2014 LHSAA State Wrestling Championships: 145 Pounds
Editor: March 39th, 2014 | Contributor: Bryce Ballas

145 Pounds

Catholic's defending 138 lbs. state champion James Claitor en route to his second title against Dutchtown's Brandon Cowell.

Division I
1st (1) James Claitor Catholic
2nd (4) Brandon Cowell Dutchtown
3rd (3) Rick LaCava Rummel
4th (1) Danny Evans Brother Martin
5th (6) Griffin Mason Jesuit
6th Clint Brownell St. Amant
Division II
1st (2) Zach Funderburk Parkway
2nd (1) Bryce Ballas Shaw
3rd (4) Austyn Hodge Live Oak
4th (5) Dante Hebert Teurlings Catholic
5th (6) Ryan Huffy Central
6th (7) C.J. Hillard Pearl River
Division III
1st (2) Koby Mancuso Brusly
2nd (1) Benjamin Kirkiksis Evangel
3rd (4) James Davis Episcopal
4th (3) Dominic Bioc De la Salle
5th (5) Trey Fontenot Basile
6th (8) Alonzo Zachary, Jr. Loyola

Division I

Seeded Wrestlers
Seed 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Wrestler Danny Evans James Claitor Rick LaCava Brandon Cowell Hunter Dempster Griffin Mason Kole Miller Thaquan Priestley Benjamin Rogers
School Brother Martin Catholic Rummel Dutchtown Hahnville Jesuit Comeaux Lafayette Acadiana
Place 4 1 3 2 DNP 5 DNP DNP DNP

Twenty-five wrestlers competed in the Division I 145 lbs. state championships.


Brother Martin junior Danny Evans had a tremendous year as a first time starter for the Crusaders, although that designation was not finalized his until Crusader teammate and sparring partner, sophomore Pierce Williams, suffered a season ending leg injury in a Tennessee tournament.  Evans was 27-0 against Louisiana competition and his only blemish all year was a one point loss to South Walton's Cody Pickren in the Trygg Memorial finals.  Evans defeated Rummel's #3 seed Rick LaCava (27-6 and the Louisiana Classic and St. Paul's Invitational champion) in a late season dual meet, and decisioned the 4th seed, Brandon Cowell of Dutchtown (49-8) twice by scores of 4-2 and 3-1.  Evans won the Mandeville Open, the Griffin Open, the Trey Culotta Invitational and the Ken Cole Invitational.  To his credit Cowell had won championships at the Wildcat, Istrouma and Zachary "Big Horse" tournaments.

The only top-four wrestler he did not face during the season was defending 138 lbs. champion James Claitor of Catholic, who due to an unexpected loss to Shaw's Bryce Ballas in the Louisiana Classic, was seeded in the second spot Evans also defeated Ballas during the season).  Claitor's record in Louisiana was only 14-2 (he suffered his other Louisiana setback against Brusly's Trevor Schermer) but he won the Scott Rohrer Hoover Invitational in Alabama as well as the Greater Baton Rouge Championships.

Rounds 1 and 2

In the first two rounds two upsets were had.  Fifth-seeded Hunter Dempster of Hahnville lost in the second round to Preston Robichaux of Holy Cross by a major 14-4 decision and #8 Thaquan Priestly lost to #9 Benjamin Rogers of Acadiana. 


The quarterfinals went as the seeding committee predicted.  Evans scored a major decision over Rogers 16-5.  Claitor pinned #7 Kole Miller of Comeaux in 3:23.  LaCava won a seven point decision, 12-5, over #6 Griffin Mason of Jesuit and Cowell scored a major 11-1 decision over the unseeded Robichaux.

Semifinal #1

(1) Danny Evans (Brother Martin) vs. (4) Brandon Cowell (Dutchtown)

After scoring only three points in two prior matches against Evans, and only losing those two matches by an aggregate three points, Dutchtown junior Brandon Cowell decided just having great potential was not sufficient.  He was very aggressive, and while Evans had a great defense, Cowell was able to infiltrate them in this match, so much so that he was able to score a fall over the Crusader in 4:57 and earn a trip to the finals.

Semifinal #2

(2) James Claitor (Catholic) vs. (3) Rick LaCava (Rummel)

Rummel's Rick LaCava was a state runner-up in 2013 with an excellent 26-2 record, but he was in the same weight class as the undefeated Connor Campo of St. Paul's.  In 2013-14 LaCava started at 138 lbs., which was a "meat grinder" of a weight class.  Aside from LaCava it had Catholic's defending state champion Brennan Taylor, Brother Martin's 2013 runner-up, Austin Meyn of Brother Martin, and Holy Cross' two-time runner-up George Benoit.  If moving back to 132 lbs. was even an option it did not seem a great one as that weight class was dominated by two-time Division I state champion Paul Klein of Brother Martin.  So LaCava opted to move up a weight, and he did well at 145 lbs., particularly in winning the Louisiana Classic.  A late season loss to Evans placed him in the third spot at the state championships and he met Catholic's James Claitor in the semifinals.  LaCava wrestled a tough match, but the defending state champion outlasted him 11-8 to advance to his second Division I finals.

Consolation Rounds

St. Amant sophomore Clint Brownell lost a second round match to LaCava and hence had a long trip to make the consolation semifinals in which every match seemed to be harder than the last.  First he scored a fall in 39 seconds, which he followed with another fall in 4:14.  Against #9 Benjamin Rogers he won a 4-3 decision, and in his next match against #5 Preston Robichaux of Holy Cross, he "pushed the envelope" even farther, requiring a Sudden Victory period to advance 4-2.  At the rate at which his match difficulty was increasing something beyond an Ultimate Tie-breaker would be required in his rematch with LaCava.  He wrestled LaCava well in the second round, falling only by an 11-9 score, but by this time, after his sixth match of the weekend, he was understandably exhausted, and LaCava was able to advance to the consolation finals with a fall in 3:23.  On the other side of the bracket #6 Griffin Mason of Jesuit used a fall in 2:48 and a major 11-3 decision to meet the top-seeded Danny Evans of Brother Martin for the right to compete for third place.  Evans shattered those dreams with a major 11-2 decision.

Mason came back to win fifth by defeating Brownell via a 9-0 major decision.

The consolation finals was a rematch of a January 30th dual meet match between Evans and LaCava, which was won by Evans 8-5.  But just as he exhibited after a loss to Holy Cross' George Benoit at the Spartan Open, LaCava proved he could rebound, and he did with a 7-2 victory over Evans and a third place finish for the Raiders.

Finals: #2 James Claitor (Catholic) versus #4 Brandon Cowell (Dutchtown)

Claitor and Cowell met three times during the regular season, and none of the matches went well for the Dutchtown junior as Claitor won 11-3, 7-6 and 10-1.  This match had all of the potential to be like the 7-6 match between the two, in the first period at least.  Claitor scored on an ankle-pick in the first 10 seconds to take a 2-0 lead.  Cowell managed an escape but Claitor took him down again for a 4-1 lead.  Cowell escaped again to cut Claitor's lead to two points, and then it was Cowell scoring a takedown to tie the match 4-4, which is how the first period ended.  Starting the second period on the bottom, Claitor reversed Cowell and then put the Griffin on his back for two nearfall points.  With about 30 second remaining in the second Cowell was able to escape, but Claitor again took him down and the Catholic Bear enjoyed a 10-5 lead upon entering the third period.  Cowell escaped from the bottom position in the first 10 seconds, but before Cowell had any time to mount an offense Claitor took him down again to increase his lead to 12-6.  This scenario played itself over two more times, and by the time the third period ended Claitor had a 16-8 major decision and his second Division I state title.


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Division II

Seeded Wrestlers
Seed 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Wrestler Bryce Ballas Zack Funderburk Tre` Pugh Austyn Hodge Dakota Hebert Ryan Huffy C.J. Hillard Pearson Harbour
School Shaw Parkway Benton Live Oak Teurlings Catholic Central Pearl River Haughton
Place 2 1 DNP 3 4 5 6 DNP

Seventeen wrestlers competed in the Division II 145 lbs. state championships.


Shaw's Bryce Ballas had a very good year.  The senior won championships at the Jefferson Invitational, the Greater New Orleans Championships, the Jefferson Parish Championships and the Skipper Last Chance.  He was the only Louisiana wrestler, aside from Brusly's Trevor Schermer, to defeat Catholic's James Claitor, which he did in a 9-7 Sudden Victory match en route to a runner-up spot at the Louisiana Classic.  Ballas was 36-7 on the season and also had a 3-2 win over Dutchtown's Brandon Cowell.  Ballas was the top seed at 145 lbs. in Division II.

With a similar resume Parkway's Zack Funderburk had a record of 32-6 with wins at the Airline Invitational, the Evangel Holiday Classic and the Parkway Division II Lone Survivor tournament.  But he had a loss to Cowell which placed him in the second spot.  Benton's Tre` Pugh, with a 29-7 record, won the ARK-LA-TEX Regionals but suffered a loss to Funderburk, meriting a third seed.  The fourth spot went to Live Oak's Austyn Hodge whose 39-19 record included a loss to Pugh. 

Round 1 and Quarterfinals

The first two rounds went exactly as predicted by the seeding committee.

The quarterfinals provided two upsets.  Fifth-seeded Dakota Hebert of Teurlings Catholic defeated #4 Hodge 7-3 and #6 Ryan Huffy eked out an 8-7 victory over #3 Pugh.  Ballas continued winning with a 3:19 fall over #8 Pearson Harbour of Haughton and Funderburk made short work of #8 C.J. Hillard of Pearl River in 1:17

Semifinal #1
(1) Bryce Ballas (Shaw) vs. (5) Dakota Hebert (Teurlings Catholic)

Ballas defeated Hebert in a November dual meet via a fall in 5:00.  But Hebert had other ideas for this match and came close to the upset, yielding only by a 3-1 score in a Sudden Victory period.

Semifinal #2

(2) Zach Funderburk (Parkway) vs. (6) Ryan Huffy (Central)

Funderburk had a little trouble with Huffy on the other side of the bracket.  Owning a previous 9-4 decision over the Wildcat from the Lone Survivor finals, Funderburk used his riding to control Huffy and manage a 7-4 victory.  

Consolation Rounds

After his quarterfinals loss Live Oak senior Austyn Hodge used falls of 3:22 and 2:30 to meet Central's Ryan Huffy in the consolation semifinals.  Hodge continued his run with a 12-3 major decision to advance to the consolation finals match.  On the lower half of the bracket Pearl River's #7 Hillard won by a 10-3 decision and a fall in 4:15 to face Dakota Hebert. But the Teurlings Catholic junior got the best of Hillard via a 12-6 decision.

Huffy took fifth place for the Wildcats with a 14-8 defeat of Hillard.

Hodge kept the Live Oak championship hopes alive with a 7-6 win over his Teurlings Catholic rival Hebert.

Finals: #1 Bryce Ballas (Shaw) versus #2 Zack Funderburk (Parkway)

Ballas and Funderburk did not meet in the regular season yet had similar records.  Ballas started the scoring with a takedown and let Funderburk escape to attempt another one.  Near the end of the first period, though, it was Funderburk who managed a throw against Ballas as time ran out, but it was enough for a takedown and a 3-2 lead.  In the second period Funderburk rode Ballas very well until the end when Ballas managed a cradle position but had not yet achieved enough control to merit a reversal, and the match remained 3-2 with Funderburk in the lead.  Ballas let Funderburk go in the third period but the two could not score against each other in the third.  A desperation shot by Ballas with time running out put the Eagle on his back, but time had run out, no points were scored, and Funderburk garnered the title.

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Division III

Seeded Wrestlers
Seed 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Wrestler Benjamin Kirkiksis Koby Mancuso Dominic Bioc James Davis Trey Fontenot Ryan Hamrick Cameron Johnson Alonzo Zachary, Jr.
School Evangel Brusly De la Salle Episcopal Basile John Curtis North Vermillion Loyola
Place 2 1 4 3 5 DNP DNP 6

Fifteen wrestlers competed in the Division III 145 lbs. state championships.


Evangel's Benjamin Kirkiksis was a Division III runner-up in 2013 and had a strong 2013-14 season with 33 wins against losses only to Andrew Pousson of St. Louis and Brusly's Trevor Schermer.  Kirkiksis won the Evangel Eagle Open, the John Curtis tournament, the ARK-LA-TEX Regionals, the Shreveport City Championships and the Northwest Louisiana Regionals and was the top seed.  Brusly's Koby Mancuso was seeded second by virtue of a 25-6 record and a Greater Baton Rouge Championship.  De la Salle senior Dominic Bioc who won the GNO Division III Championships but had a loss to Mancuso, was seeded third.  Episcopal's James Davis, at 22-11, was the fourth seed.

Round 1 and Quarterfinals

The first round provided one upset when Grand Lake freshman Anica Logan scored a fall in 4:41 over #8 Alonzo Zachary, Jr. of Loyola Prep.

Kirkiksis stopped Logan in the quarterfinals at 3:03 and Mancuso scored a 21-4 technical fall over #7 Nicholas Arruebarrena of Thomas Jefferson.  The third-seeded Bioc scored a fall in 1:59 over #6 Ryan Hamrick of John Curtis.  Davis required a little more time but also scored a fall in 5:03 over #5 Trey Fontenot of Basile.

Semifinal #1

(1) Benjamin Kirkiksis (Evangel) vs. (4) James Davis (Episcopal)

Kirkiksis and Davis had an epic semifinals match.  They were tied at the end of regulation and neither could score in the Sudden Victory round.  In the second 30-second tie-breaker, though, it was Kirkiksis who finally advanced with a fall in 6:36 to earn a second trip to the Division III finals.

Semifinal #2

(2) Koby Mancuso (Brusly) vs. (3) Dominic Bioc (De la Salle)

The second-seeded Mancuso had a little easier time with #3 Bioc, but not by much.  Fresh off of his Greater Baton Rouge Championship, Mancuso scored a fall with only 10 second remaining in the third period (5:50).

Consolation Rounds

The 8th-seeded Zachary received a bye in the first consolation round and then scored decision of 5-2 and 10-5 to advance to the consolation semifinals.  But the Episcopal senior Davis put an end to his run via a fall in 4:09.  Fontenot scored a fall in 33 seconds and followed that with a 4-3 win over Grand Lake's Logan to make the consolation semifinals.  Bioc put an end to Fontenot's run quickly, in 49 seconds.

Fontenot came back strong though with a 6-0 decision over Zachary to place third for the Bearkats.

Davis and Bioc wrestled a good match but it was the Episcopal senior who prevailed 5-3 to place third.

Finals: #1 Benjamin Kirkiksis (Evangel) versus #2 Koby Mancuso (Brusly)

Mancuso dominated this match, although it was close at the start.  With 20 seconds elapsed in the second period Mancuso led 4-0.  By the end of the period he was ahead 6-1, and then he shifted gear.  With a minute remaining in the match he led 10-3 and he only allowed one more escape point for Kirkiksis while scoring four more of his own for a 14-5 major decision and Brusly's seventh championship in a row.

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