Crusaders take fifth straight Culotta title
St. Paul's continues to impress
January 1st, 2016 | Written by: Editor



The host Brother Martin Crusaders won their fifth straight Trey Culotta Invitational team championship on Wednesday, outpacing runner-up St. Paul's and third-place finisher Vestavia Hills, Alabama.  The Crusaders, however, did not dominate the event as they did in 2014, 2013 and 2012.  In those three events the Crusaders won by an average margin of 137 points.  More importantly, they averaged 218 points more than their closest Louisiana competition in those years.  Their 59 point margin over St. Paul's is their lowest since 2011 when the Crusaders outscored Jesuit by 53 points.  It should be noted, however, that scoring changes made in 2014 have reduced the team points awarded for falls from six points to two, significantly reducing the score totals when compared to previous years.

Nevertheless, the Crusaders are still the favorites to win a fifth consecutive Division I team championship, despite that they arguably did not do as well as they may have expected in this event.  Add to that the fact that since 2010 the winner of the Trey Culotta Invitational has won the Division I team championship all but one time.  In 2011 Rummel won the Division I team title but did not participate in the Culotta. 

More good news for the Crusaders is that Seth Gambill, the 132 lbs. champion, did not score a single point for Brother Martin.  Patrick Evans was the point-scorer for the Crusaders and with a fourth-place finish scored 30.5 points.  Had Gambill been the starter, he would have scored somewhere in the mid-40's.  Gambill lost one pool match but added three falls in his championship run.

Daniel Varnado, Gambill and Pierce Williams won championships for the Crusaders, who amassed a total of 475 points.  St. Paul's Hunter Bourgeois won a second consecutive Culotta championship to help the Wolves place second with 416.5 points.  Vestavia Hills, with championships by Bowman Hill and James Edwards, score 350 points to place third.

St. Paul's continues to be impressive and appears to be a stronger team than the one that lost to Jesuit 29-24 in the "moistened artificial turf of John Ryan Stadium," (OK - not quite Chris Berman's "the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field").  Since then the Wolves fared better than the Blue Jays at the Mandeville Open and defeated the Holy Cross Tigers in a dual meet.  The LWN editor has even picked St. Paul's to finish behind the Crusaders as the highest placing Louisiana team at the 2015 Deep South Bayou Duals, somewhere around fourth-place overall.

Hunter Bourgeois claimed his second Culotta title and was the only champion for the Wolves.  Cole Houser and Jared Thieler placed second while Brandon Stein, Sam Dufour and Colin Francis placed third.

Vestavia Hills, Alabama, behind champions Bowman Hill, James Edwards, and runner-up Hayden Hill, placed third. Rummel placed sixth and had champions in Blake Mateu and Josh Ramirez. Hahnville, with only nine wrestlers, placed eight behind champion Nicholas Lirette and runners-up Trevon Honor and Stephen Cloud.

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Eight wrestlers entered the event undefeated, but only five remained so when all was said and done.  Rummel's Blake Mateu and Josh Ramirez, Nicholas Lirette of Hahnville, Christian Walden of Airline and Shaw's Matthew Blair kept their records spotless.  Falling from that group were Brother Martin's Steven Shields and Stephen Rumney, and Teurlings Catholic's Brock Bonin.  Shields lost in Wednesday's semifinals to Comeaux's Seth Oubre and Rumney fell in the finals to Airline's Javarious Jones.  Bonin, after beating Taylor Gambill on Tuesday 5-3, lost a semifinals rematch 7-3.

Seth Oubre provided the most remarkable story of the tournament.  In Tuesday's pool round he was 3-2 and qualified as the fifth seed on Wednesday.  His losses were to Shields, who defeated him 13-8, and St. Paul's Jared Thieler, who pinned him in 4:00.  Oubre rebounded on Wednesday with a semifinals pin over Shields in 4:50 and a come-from-behind 6-5 win over Thieler in the finals.  For his accomplishment Oubre was chosen as the tournament's Outstanding Wrestler.

Outstanding Wrestler Award
Comeaux's 120 lbs. champion Seth Oubre won the Outstanding Wrestler Award for avenging pool losses to undefeated Steven Shields (BM) and Jared Thieler (StP).
Trey Culotta Heavyweight Award
Matt Blair of Shaw remained undefeated on the season by winning the 285 lbs. championship, and accordingly was presented the Trey Culotta Award.

Before the start of the championship finals two awards were presented.  At left, Master of Ceremonies James Casadaban recognized the outstanding career of Vestavia Hills' head coach Steve Gaydosh.

At right, four-time Division I state champion Paul Klein (class of 2015) is presented a framed singlet by former teammate and team captain Taylor Gambill.  Klein is currently a freshman at Arizona State University.

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