Four events to provide bragging rights for a year
Recap of last week's events
January 29th, 2016| Written by: Editor



Although it is not the last week of wrestling this season, this weekend's event will define bragging rights for the next year in Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles and northwest Louisiana.

Greater Baton Rouge Championships

Brusly upset the 11-year defending champion Catholic Bears by six points in the 2014 Greater Baton Rouge Championships, earning the right to host the event in 2015.  Catholic took it back with a vengeance in 2016, winning the event by 78.5 points over the runner-up St. Amant Gators.  The 2015-16 Bears are tasked with keeping the event in their gym for 2017.  To do so, they will have to again outscore a Gator squad which placed higher than the Bears in the Central Wildcat Invitational and the Louisiana Classic.

Friday evening the Bears put themselves in a position to do just that.  While they hold only a precarious 2.5 point lead after the first day's action, the Bears have 11 semifinalists to St. Amant's eight.  In four of those brackets the Catholic wrestlers are seeded higher than the St. Amant ones: Cameron Carpenter (#1 at 120 lbs.), Davis Polito at 138 lbs., Brent Torres (#1 at 145 lbs.) and Jacob Fereday (#1 at 160 lbs.).  St. Amant has two wrestlers in the semifinals seeded higher than their Catholic counterparts: Clint Brownell (#1 at 152 lbs.) and Sage Nugent (#2 at 170 lbs.).

Catholic's total of five #1 seeds who are still in the championship bracket gives the Bears a substantial advantage.  But St. Amant has a few factors in their favor.  First, at 170 lbs., second-seeded Sage Nugent of the Gators will meet fifth-seeded Denver Denison in the only semifinals match between the two top schools.  The two have not met each other this season but Nugent has a much better record against common opponents (Pierce Williams of Brother Martin in particular).  Second, while each team filled all 14 weight classes, three Catholic wrestlers are out of the tournament, while only one Gator has been eliminated.  This leaves the Gators with more wrestlers scoring points on Saturday.  A third factor in St. Amant's favor is that at 132 lbs. fifth-seeded Lance Blanchard of Catholic, who upset fourth-seeded Jesse Braud of St. Amant, will meet top-seeded Austin Franklin in the semifinals.

If seeding holds true for the semifinals the Bears will have eight finalists to the Gators' four.  The Gators will not only need a few semifinals upsets but will also need stellar efforts in the consolation rounds if they are to host these championships in 2017.

The finals are slated to begin at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday.

Lafayette Metro Championships

Comeaux, Lafayette and Teurlings Catholic should vie for the top spot in the greater Lafayette area in the Lafayette Metro Tournament.  Comeaux will be favored as in competitions against its two in-town rivals the Spartans have won two regular tournaments (the Jacob McMillan and the Ken Cole) as well as the Greg Lavergne Lafayette Parish Duals.  Lafayette, behind undefeated Rodrigo Diaz at 220 lbs., surprised Teurlings Catholic to place second at the Parish Duals, but placed fifth in the recent Ken Cole Invitational, 48.5 points behind fourth-place Teurlings.  The Rebels may be even stronger than last week if three-time defending Division II state champion Brock Bonin returns to the line-up.  Basile and North Vermillion may be big factors in which teams place second and third.

Jesse James Southwest Shootout

Host Sulphur will be looking to win their first Jesse James Southwest Shootout.  Led by senior Kiefer Fuselier at 106 lbs., the Golden Tornadoes' Dustin Doucet, Coby Little, Jude McNicol, Matthew Caswell and Brennan Broussard are also having outstanding seasons with 18 or more wins apiece.  Barbe's Darian Mitchell and Sam Houston's Andrew Aucoin should be favored in their weight classes.  Alex Verrett should be watched for St. Louis Catholic as should Anica Logan of Grand Lake.

Northwest Louisiana Regionals

Airline High School should be the prohibitive favorite at the Northwest Louisiana Regionals held at North Desoto High School on Saturday.  A list of the Viking wrestlers not to watch in this event would save time and space, but might be deemed unfair to Dakota Brace, Tucker (yes, Tucker) Almond, Thomas Barringer, Javarious Jones, Josh Partin, Antonio Lococo, Christian Walden, Darrell Evans and Keegan Gilligan.

Parkway, according to the Shreveport Times, will not send all of its starters.

Recap of last week's events

Brother Martin 52 - Holy Cross 18

Held at Brother Martin on January 27th, there were no upsets in this match to speak of, although one match had very important seeding implications.

As expected, Jake Rando, Joey Foret and Randel Amos won matches for the Tigers worth 15 points.  Before those matches, however, was the match everyone wanted to see - the first only meeting prior to the state championships between Holy Cross' Cole Clement and Brother Martin's Seth Gambill at 132 lbs.  The match in all probability would decide who the Division I #1 seed would be in the state championships in Bossier City.

Gambill started the season strong by winning the Mandeville Open and the Trey Culotta Invitational.  After an unexpected loss in the Spartan Open he came back to place third, which he also did at the Blackhorse Invitational in Germantown, Tennessee.  Perhaps most impressively, Gambill won Prep Slam VII in Atlanta, Georgia on January 2nd.

Clement also had a strong start to his season by winning the Raider Invitational and the Spartan Invitational, and by placing second at the South Walton Border Wars. 

At the Louisiana Classic Gambill was the #1 seed while Clement was seeded second.  Gambill did not have the tournament he expected and placed fourth.  However, his losses came to opponents from Division III and Division II - not hurting his chances at all in Division I.  Clement did that for him by winning the event with a 6-3 win over Brusly's Austin Franklin.  But, although Clement placed higher at the Classic than Gambill, a head-to-head meeting supersedes that re seeding purposes.

Gambill scored first for a two-point lead, but after that Clement, using strong double-leg shots, racked up nine points to only three for Gambill, leading to a 9-5 decision and putting Clement atop the Division I state tournament bracket at 132 lbs.

As expected, the Crusaders had wins by Daniel Croy (subbing for Daniel Varnado), Luke Cotton, Steven Shields, Stephen Rumney, Taylor Gambill, Brad Guidry, Pierce Williams, Travis Viener, Cole Alphonso and Jacob Clapp.

Dale Ketelsen Memorial

St. Paul's won the inaugural Dale Ketelsen Memorial Tournament held at St. Paul's in Covington on January 23rd.  The Wolves amassed 253 points, defeated a game Brother Martin squad by 50.5 points.

Cole Houser (113 lbs.), Jared Thieler (120 lbs.), Shane Ulfers (126 lbs.), Seth Dragon (152 lbs.), Sam Dufour (160 lbs.)and Colin Francis (220 lbs.) won championships for the Wolves.

Daniel Croy (106 lbs.), Patrick Evans (132 lbs.), Paul Elmer (145 lbs.) and Brendon Brown (a non-scorer) placed first for the Crusaders.

The remaining four weight classes were won by Hahnville's Nicholas Lirette (138 lbs.) and Blade Rager (285 lbs.), Chase Menendez of Destrehan (170 lbs.) and Dakota Brogden of Covington (182 lbs.).

One fairly scary statistic can be gleaned from this event - scary for all but Crusader fans.  St. Paul's entered a team that is considered to be the second or third best Division I team in Louisiana.  The average grade of the St. Paul's scorers was 11.2.  The average grade of the Brother Martin scorers was 10.3.  The St. Paul's scoring team will lose seven seniors to graduation.  The Brother Martin scorers will lose only one.  Yet these Brother Martin wrestlers, who are not first team starters, will, on average, have almost a full two years of wrestling left in their high school carrers.

Rayne 39-Teurlings Catholic 37

In what many may consider a Division II upset, the Rayne Wolves defeated the Teurlings Catholic Rebels 39-37 on January 27th.  Rayne did get the benefit of a forfeit at 182 lbs. and that Brock Bonin was not available for the match, but the Wolves proved they should not be overlooked for a very good showing in Division II in Bossier City.

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