By Ben Robinson
COLUMBUS —- The 82nd annual State Wrestling Individual Tournament couldn’t have started any worse for the Versailles Tigers as junior 195 pounder Isaac Grilliot (40-10) was forced out of the tournament before it ever started due to a skin condition.
“You know, that’s a tough situation,” said Versailles coach AJ Bey. “Especially when you see kids out here wrestling who had worse stuff on their face.”
And Bey felt Grilliot had a great chance of finishing on the podium.
“I think he had a great shot of getting on the podium,” he said. “I watched the match with the the West Liberty-Salem kid who took his spot and he was up by four before he got caught. I definitely think Isaac would have been right there (on the podium) if he was permitted to wrestle.”
To make matters worse for Versailles, the three remaining Tiger wrestlers all dropped their opening matches of the tournament.
Jacob Poling (126) dropped a 9-3 decision to Kyle Keenan of North Lima South Range, Cael Bey (152) lost 16-1 to returning state placer Kevin Contos of Genoa Area, and then Tyler Gigandet (170) fell to another returning state placer in Rittman’s Sevi Garza, 16-2.
But Jacob Poling was able to rebound with a big win in the wrestle-backs – beating Tyler Banta of Malvern 7-5.
“Jacob wrestled a little timid in his first match, which is understandable in this environment,” Bey said. “But I think he settled down and wrestled very well in his second match. Hopefully it builds his confidence a little bit and he can come back tomorrow (Friday) and get on the podium.”
Cael Bey ran into a buzzsaw in his consolation match, losing 16-4 to Andrew Knaup of Janesville West Muskingum.
But the fact that Cael qualified for state was impressive as he battled through the consolation rounds at the district tournament after losing his open match.
“He just battles,” Bey said of his nephew, Cael. “That’s what he does. He gets after it and wrestles hard from start to finish.”
And with state experience under his belt, Bey hopes to see his nephew take his game to another level next year as a senior.
“Absolutely,” he said. “It’s tough when it’s your first time here and now that he has some state experience, hopefully it helps him build for next year.”
Tyler Gigandet also wrestle hard, but came up on the short end against Caden Brown of Defiance Ayersville in his consolation match.
“In his first match he sort of had the deer in head lights look,” Bey explained. “He wrestled well in his second match, but that kid was really good at defending our stuff.”
Trailing 3-1, Gigandet attempted a barrel roll and appeared to have it locked up for a possible takedown, plus back points. But Brown was able to slip his way out of trouble forcing a stalemate.
“Tyler almost hit the big move, but that kid was solid defensively.” said Bey.
The fact that Gigandet finished his career in Columbus on the biggest stage of high school wrestling is something Bey is proud to see from his senior wrestler.
“I know he’s disappointed, but he had a great career at Versailles,” Bey said. “I’m so proud of him.”
While three Tiger wrestlers saw their seasons end at state, Poling looks to finish his career on the podium.
He will continue his quest Friday in the consolation rounds at 12:10 p.m.