Versailles wrestling boys sweep, girls split in triangular at Eldon with Boonville
Versailles coach Shawn Brantley knew there was not much room for error when his team traveled to Highway 52 neighbor Eldon for a Tri-County Conference triangular with the Mustangs and Boonville.
Injuries or illnesses- nothing COVID-related, the coach pointed out- left the Tigers with a different kind of lineup and they found a way to come through and cross off a pair of checkmarks in an ongoing pursuit of a conference title.
“Just pick up where we left off before Christmas, that was the big thing. A couple of those guys were junior varsity guys who got a couple of matches in during the break, but the varsity guys had not so we could not have a let-up and lose some matches we shouldn’t,” Brantley said of the night. “We knew we were short-handed and all of a sudden those duals are a whole lot closer than they are supposed to be.
“Some guys stepped up and we took care of business.”
The Versailles boys swept their conference foes, beating Boonville 54-30 and Eldon 45-30, while the girls topped Boonville 24-18 and came up just short in a 24-18 defeat to the host Mustangs.
While Brantley gave his wrestlers credit for doing what they needed to Thursday night, the wrestlers also pointed to their coaching staff.
“Honestly, I think it is the coaches,” said Versailles wrestler Tres Powers who won both of his matches. “We have a great coaching staff and they do a great job. I could not ask for better coaches- they teach us everything, get us conditioned and we go out there and kick butt.”
Maris Ollison, who also went 2-0 in her matches, is a dual-sport athlete this winter who also plays basketball for the Tigers when she is not on the mat. It is a choice she was glad to make.
“It feels pretty great. I’m still new to this so I stick with what I know, which isn’t a lot, but it works,” she said.
“This summer I was in the weight room a lot and a bunch of the coaches told me I’d probably be really good at it so I decided to give it a try and it is working out pretty well.”
Ollison earned a pair of pins in her bouts at 195 pounds and was the lone Tiger in a contested match against Boonville while Serenity Keeter (112), Ella Dunklee (122) and Sarah Huffman (235) all went uncontested. Facing Eldon, there were a few more showdowns with their neighbors down Highway 52. Huffman (235) was able to pin Eldon’s Sydney Searcy in addition to Ollison’s pin over Mackenzie Blankenship and Dunklee went uncontested. The rest went to Eldon as Addyson Gerber (112) pinned Keeter and Vivian Wester (117) went uncontested along with Anmarie Dillon (132) and Olivia Chapman (151).
The Eldon girls enjoyed a sweep after also knocking off Boonville as Dillon (137), Chapman (159) and Blankenship (195) all earned pins in the first round while Gerber (112), Wester (117) and Searcy (235) all went uncontested in a 36-6 win over the Pirates. Meanwhile, the boys came up just short in a 42-36 loss to Boonville while also falling to Versailles, but the Mustangs did not have a full lineup and came out ahead in their contested matches. Not a bad effort for spotting 24 points as the boys finished 5-3 in contested matches against Boonville and 4-3 with the Tigers.
“We are not going to win many, but we talk about that every time before a dual- we need to win more than we lose,” Eldon coach Ryan Bird said of the encouraging results.
“We bumped some kids around to try to win that dual and it backfired,” he continued, describing the showdown with Boonville, “but it is what it is. We took a chance and it was the only way we had to win it… Those are the best two days we’ve wrestled all year and we did not win them, but man, we went out and battled.”
Aidan Gerber secured a pin for Eldon at 126 pounds against Boonville and he was joined by Tevin Eldridge (132), Jonathon Etzel (138), Ian Birdno (182) and Jasper DeGraffenreid (285) in the winner by fall category while Maddox Berliner (120) went uncontested. Evan Birdno (145) dropped his match by fall along with Dakota Collins (152) and Sam Coppock (182).
Both the Mustangs and Tigers left the 106-pound class open in their conference battle and Gerber was the first Mustang to secure a win against the Tigers with a pin fall over Benjamin Dornan at 126. Etzel (132) went uncontested along with Samuel Simmons (132) and the Mustangs also picked up wins with Collins’ pin over Houston Fahrenbocker at 152, Coppock’s pin over Gabriel Lehman at 182 and Jasper DeGraffenreid’s pin over Tristan Gavette at 285.
“How about Jasper DeGraffenreid? The kid is finding some offense,” Bird pointed out. The kid from Boonville is a state qualifier who pinned him earlier in the season and the kid from Versailles has beat some state qualifiers. We are getting better and the kids are doing good things.”
The Mustangs were scheduled to wrestle in the Monett Tournament over the weekend and will return to action against Blair Oaks and Osage in another pair of conference battles on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. Bird had given his wrestlers five days off over the holiday break in order to recuperate and now it is time to get back to the grind healthy as can be.
“These kids come to practice ready to work and it is really refreshing. We are young and inexperienced, but we are getting experience and they are soaking up stuff like a sponge so it has been real fun. The season has been fun and I was telling the coaches tonight, I love this stuff.”
Versailles cruised past Boonville and Dornan helped make that happen with a pin at 126 along with Powers (138), Alex Radefeld (145), Kyle Flieger (160), Lehmen (182), Gavin Brantley (195) and Gavette (285) while both Kannen Wilson (113) and Matthew Radefeld (120) went uncontested. Fahrenbocker (152) lost his bout by pin along with Lehman (170) and Dylan Davis (220). Facing Eldon, Radefeld started the Tigers out with a 5-2 decision over Berlener in the first contested match at 120. Powers (138) pinned Waters, Lehman (170) pinned Birdno and Wilson (113), Radefeld (145), Flieger (160), Brantley (195) and Hibdon (220) all went uncontested.
Up next for Versailles is a tournament at Butler over the weekend and the Tigers will take on Osage and Southern Boone this Thursday for the next pair of conference battles at 5:30 p.m. Brantley noted that a commitment to keep improving can pay dividends down the road.
“We are going to be wrestling a whole lot more after break, hopefully, if COVID does not fight us too much. It should be a little easier to stay sharper if we can avoid the injury bug and just keep improving,” Brantley stated. “It does not have to be big improvements, some of these guys just need to make small improvements and it will make huge strides in the end and I think we’ll be ok.”
Michael Losch is the Sports Editor at the Lake Sun. He can be reached at email@example.com or 573-346-2132