Vermilion senior Tyler Bath has been making a splash — everywhere — the last year or so.
After battling his way to the Division II state tournament last March during his junior wrestling season, he landed on the Division IV All-Ohio second team this fall as a defensive lineman for the Sailors.
The two-sport standout doesn’t believe it’s a coincidence that he’s found success on the field and the mat.
“I think both of those sports help each other out in many ways,” said Bath, who’s ranked No. 8 in the state at 220 pounds by Intermat. “Hustle — you’ve got to be there in football just as much as in wrestling — effort, obviously, competition … the only part that’s different is the individuality that comes out in wrestling more so than football.”
The football field is where Vermilion wrestling coach Brandon Gilbert first found Bath some five years or so ago.
“I actually started with Tyler in (middle school) football,” Gilbert said. “I was new to the area and when I got there I see this monster child. He’s out there just reckless as can be, no concern for himself, and I’m just like, ‘Hey, this is going to be fantastic.’
“The maturity, even at that stage, was head and shoulders above the other kids. I knew I had something special. Then we finally got him on the mats.”
Bath had participated in the local biddy program when he was in grade school … and hated it.
“I just wasn’t really that coordinated,” he said. “I was falling all over myself, I didn’t really know what was what, I didn’t understand it. But as I grew into my body, I was like, well, this is for me. This is awesome.”
Bath gave wrestling a second shot in seventh grade. He was bigger, stronger and way more successful. Then he got serious.
“I just tried to put in more work than I thought anybody else would,” he said. “In the offseason I’d go to practice every day with BTW (Burnett Trained Wrestling). I’d work my tail end off. Every weekend I was going to tournaments, so I got over 150 matches my eighth-grade year.”
Bath had a tough debut season in high school, going 17-12 before missing the second half due to ineligibility. But he salvaged the year by competing in a special event — the Freshman Nationals in Virginia Beach.
“That was awesome,” he said. “I always did offseason events. Through that people invited me to go to Virginia Beach. The competition was awesome. It was the size of Wal-Mart. Mats everywhere you looked, hundreds of wrestlers. My dad still has videos of him watching it on TV. It’s definitely something that I’m never going to forget.”
The pain of not wrestling in the postseason as a freshman wasn’t forgotten, either. It fueled him to a district appearance as a sophomore and then he broke through for a trip to Columbus last season.
The rise wasn’t unexpected, at least from his coach. Bath had that something special that Gilbert knew would translate into success.
“Him and (fellow senior) Trevor (Boyd), they’re just special,” Gilbert said. “In my career, I don’t know that I’ve enjoyed young men more than these two guys. They get it. I can have adult conversations with them. It’s more than just that coach-wrestler relationship. I enjoy them as human beings.”
While success this season wouldn’t be a surprise, Bath has a little extra inspiration left over from the football season. He will be carrying the memory of Sailors football coach Matt Kobal, who died unexpectedly last month, and the words that drove him to be one of the state’s best.
“Coach Kobal was huge in believing in all you’ve got, all the time,” Bath said. “An all-out effort. And it’s the same with wrestling. You have to put all the effort you have into it if you want to be successful at it.
“I’ve been pushing myself this year more than I ever have before. If I want to get back there I’ve got to put even more work in because I have a target on my back.”
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