Fresh off the program's first team district championship Versailles won on its own mats, the Tigers brought eight total wrestlers to the final rendezvous of the season and only one would reach the podium.

Versailles came to state with numbers and momentum.

Fresh off the program’s first team district championship Versailles won on its own mats, the Tigers brought eight total wrestlers to the final rendezvous of the season in Columbia to take on the best wrestlers in the state of Missouri over the weekend.

Ultimately, only one of those Tigers would reach the podium reserved for the six best wrestlers of any weight class and come back home from Mizzou Arena with a medal. It just goes to show how tough the state tournament can be.

“Obviously, this didn’t end up like we wanted or hoped. We were thinking we could have as many as three medalists, maybe a finalist, and things just did not work out for us in the end,” Versailles coach Shawn Brantley said. “It is all still part of the process and we learn from it, we grow and hopefully the kids figure out what they got to do to get better and we’ll be better next year from it.”

Well, the coach already has one idea of how to make that happen and it starts with the weight room.

“The number one biggest thing for us, not just in wrestling but for Versailles sports in general, is the weight program,” Brantley said, adding that there are people already in charge working hard to remedy the issue. “When you look out here at one of our kids compared to these other kids you’ll think they can’t ever win a match. We can outwrestle everybody but we got to fix some things physically to get where we need to be.”

Robert Silvey (10-22) dropped his first two matches of the tournament at 106 pounds, losing by pin fall to Whitfield's Alexander Rallo (40-7) and Albany's Gavin Shoush (23-6). Connor Lehman (20-11) suffered the same fate at 170 by pin fall to Lafayette County's James Wilkson (40-15) and a 2-0 decision against North Andrew's Coby Etheridge (27-9). Mason Hibdon (27-21) also dropped his first two matches at 220 against Lathrop's Quinton Wolfe (16-7) in a 4-0 decision and Central New Madrid County's Quazavion Jackson (28-5) by a 5-3 decision.

Kannen Wilson (38-10) won a 7-5 sudden victory over Centralia's Gabe Maenner (33-7) in the first round at 113 and lost to North Andrew's Dawson Fansher (442-3) in the quarterfinals by pin fall. Up against Wyatt Cunninham of Mid-Buchanan (18-11), Wilson's tournament ended with another pin fall defeat.

Zachary Radefeld (29-13) lost his first bout at 152 to Palmyra's Ross Arch (40-3) by pin fall, bounced back with a pin over Gateway Science Academy's Marlon Davis (20-19) and a 6-4 decision against Matt Wuntke of Knob Noster (44-5) brought his tournament to an end in the second round of consolation.

There were also a pair of seniors who nearly medaled, but came up just one win shy.

Gage Tessier (27-9) pinned Maplewood Richmond Heights Collin Skaggs (29-10) in the first round at 182, lost a 6-0 decision in the quarterfinals to St. Pius X's Eddie Omecene (45-2) and bounced back with a pin over Father Tolton's Conner Fogue (20-12). Mark Trump of Trenton (41-9) then managed to win by pin fall to advance to the podium.

Alana May (13-3) was a returning state finalist for the Tigers and a first round loss to Ronesha Poke of Francis Howell (18-7) at 235 forced her to win her next three matches. May took care of the first two winning by pin fall over Eureka's Mari Lopez (8-9) and Staley's Remy Asta (8-6), but Kyla Cornine of neighboring Tipton (29-5) ended her tournament with a pin fall victory.

So, some work is in order for the future for those who return but there was one Tiger wrestling in his final tournament who made sure not to go home without some hardware.

Versailles senior Riley Rademann, a returning sixth place state medalist, moved up one spot on the podium finishing fifth in the Class 1 bracket at 195 pounds.

His tournament began with a pin fall over Brentwood’s Anthony Garrett (14-10) and the senior suffered his first loss in the quarterfinals when he lost a 3-1 sudden victory to Penney’s Elijah Harper (36-7).

Needing to win his next two matches to guarantee a medal, Rademann won by pin fall over Mid-Buchanan’s Seth Cruz (28-23) and found himself in a battle in the next round where he edged out Richmond’s Ryker Plymell (33-10) with a 3-2 decision.

“I did not want my coaches to go home empty-handed without a medal or anything,” said Rademann who had become the program’s final hope for a medal by that point. “I was pretty confident. I never lost to that kid so there were no worries or anything, no pressure.” 

Trevor Bodine of Centralia (50-2) managed to earn a 4-2 sudden victory over Rademann in the consolation semifinals, but the senior who previously earned his 100th career win earlier in the year walked out on top with a pin fall in the final match of his Tiger career. Rademann wrapped us his final season 41-9 with a pin fall over St. Paul Lutheran’s (Concordia) Samuel Long (30-8).

“It is fun getting your hand raised an getting all those wins,” Rademann said looking back, “but there is more to the sport than just the wins. It is the relationships and friendships you build with everyone around you, seeing kids get better and everything like that.”

Like others who have gone before the senior, Brantley said Rademann is an example and representation of what wrestlers in the program should be.

“He came in his freshman year and I think he was 9-12 or something and we were wondering if he was ever going to be a contributor,” the coach recalled. “He ended his career a two-time medalist and that win put him fifth on the career wins list for us. He has done some huge things in the last three years.”

The coach also noted that Rademann has advocated that same message to his teammates and Rademann said if there was anything he learned from Versailles, it was to never let anyone tell him he couldn’t do something.

“We got kids that need to come in and work hard and keep getting better. They just got to see they can be good and eventually that is what I realized,” the senior said. “I was like, ‘Dang, I can hang with the good guys. I can beat the good guys.’”

Brantley said wrestlers will have the week off, but he expects to see some wrestlers back at it next week.

“I’ll expect to see them in the weight room and we are going to figure out some things to do to continue to get better,” he said. “We’d like to be relevant again and be in that trophy hunt. We’ve got some kids that can do that if they’ll put the time and effort in.”