Crusaders and Rebels repeat as Division I and Division II champions, Cavaliers oust Brusly in Division III
Bossier City, CenturyLink Center deliver on promise of a very successful state wrestling tournament
March 25th, 2016 | Written by: Editor


Attendance Pre-finals Ceremonies All-Academic Farewells Historical Notes Thanks

For Brother Martin, it was their fifth consecutive Division I championship and 16th overall.  For Division II's Teurlings Catholic High School, it was their third team state championship in a row and fourth in five years.  For De la Salle, it was their first since 1971.

Division I Team Champions
Brother Martin Crusaders
Division II Team Champions
Teurlings Catholic Rebels
Division III Team Champions
De la Salle Cavaliers

Division I Outstanding Wrestler
Guy Patron, Jr. of Jesuit
195 lbs. - Senior
Division II Outstanding Wrestler
Brock Bonin of Teurlings Catholic
138 lbs. - Senior
Division III Outstanding Wrestler
Gavin Christ of Basile
120 lbs. - Freshman

Bossier City's CenturyLink Center was a fantastic venue in which to have the LHSAA State Wrestling Championship.  Ten mats fit very easily on the floor and there were more than enough seats in the stands to allow team supporters to sit near each other to cheer on their wrestlers.  As the stands are located well above the floor, one usually had a very clear view of the wrestler they wanted to watch.

Running the event superbly at the "head table" were Ms. Jennifer Macha, Ms. Tracie Sonnier and Ms. Christina Doucet.  Mr. B.J. Guzzardo of the LHSAA was the tournament director, and was assisted by Mr. Cliff Strider, Louisiana's head referee, and Fontainebleau High School athletic director and former wrestling coach Rick Zimmer.

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One reason bandied about criticizing the move to Bossier City was that not enough fans would attend the event.  They were right.  According to the LHSAA the attendance for the two-day event was 13,334, which was 721 persons less than last year's record crowd of 14,055 at the Pontchartrain Center.  That's a whopping drop of 5.3 percent.  The average crowd per session was 3,334.  For the sake of argument, let's round the number for the finals to 5,000 spectators, taking into account those who arrived on Saturday and the 697 wrestlers who were not on the floor for the finals.  That leaves 9,000 open seats as the center has a capacity of 14,000.  Perhaps the amount of empty seats fooled some people.  What the arena's capacity really did was allow everybody rooting for a particular team to sit where and with whom they like.  The New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lafayette and Lake Charles fans still came in droves.  One has to wonder if those who were very concerned about the LHSAA making less money due to a lower attendance are worried about receiving a bill. 

(Left) Members of Holy Cross' Cole Clement's family as well as (center) Brother Martin alums Kenny Spellman and P.L. Williams, were easily spotted among the throngs.  (Right) Ten mats fit easily on the CenturyLink Center floor, leaving ample space between the mats and the base of the seating areas for the head table, the podium ceremonies, photographers, coaches and on-deck wrestlers.

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Pre-finals Ceremonies

The evening started with Evangel senior
Callie Ruth Opbroek flawlessly singing the
national anthem.

Ms. Jacquelyn Ann LeBeau was presented a plaque in memory of her son, Shreveport police officer Thomas LaValley (right), who died in the line of duty on August fifth, 2005, at the age of 29.  Officer LaValley wrestled for the St. Amant Gators in the early 2000s and was coached by Phil Bode, who accompanied Ms. LeBeau to the center of the mats for the presentation.
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2016 LHSAA ACADEMIC WRESTLING DIVISION I TEAM (student-athletes who carry a 4.0 average.)

Benton's Benjamin Robins Shaw's Cameron Bertot  Catholic's Davis Polito Jesuit's Joseph Dupre All four together 

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Brittany Bates Brock Bonin

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Fifty years ago - 1966
East Jefferson High School, coached by Ray Gremillion, became the first team to win a state title other than Holy Cross in a tournament in which the Tigers participated.  Of note, sitting fourth from the left, is George Trygg, a future East Jefferson coach who led the Warriors' to second state title in 1978, and for whom the Grace King Trygg Memorial Tournament is named.
35 years ago -1981
Well paid saboteurs likely cut the telephone lines between Baker High School and the Times-Picayune building, preventing the transmission of the Division II finals results after the 126 lbs. weight class.  The lines were mended in time for the heavyweights to be listed, but the omission of the 132 lbs. to 185 lbs. left wounds, some of which fester to this very day!
25 years ago - 1991
Jesuit won their 11th Division I and 12th overall team championship in behind state champions Clint Rivet, Glenn Herman and Mike Hanemann.  In Division II the Basile Bearcats denied the Buras Wildcats their fifth consecutive championship by a mere five points.  
10 years ago - 2006
At the Pontchartrain Center post-Katrina, Jesuit won their third consecutive Division I team title under new coach Carlos Bertot.  Parkway won their second Division II title and Brusly won their third in what would be a string of seven Division III championships.

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When I think back to sorting the 9,500 photos I brought back to River Ridge, and the weeks it took me to organize, choose, edit and name them for publication, I was forced to realize that I would not have have so much work to do if not for Emily Hamman.

In reality, Ms. Hamman, who attends Centenary College in Shreveport, provided a great service to me as well as to wrestling fans who read these pages.  Having two cameras with which to shoot action on 10 mats is a Godsend when before there was one lonely camera operator trying to do it all.  Ms. Hamman learned the nuances of wrestling matches, as well as of a Canon camera as opposed to a Nikon one, very quickly, and therefore she is the reason for a lot of the semifinals and Division III finals matches.  I also sent her off at times just to take random photos, and a lot of those are great.

Thanks Emily, and I hope you will be available for next year!

Thanks also go to Mr. B.J. Guzzardo of the LHSAA, Mr. Cliff Strider, Ms. Dionne Harter and to many others the editor relied upon for accuracy in the coverage of this event.

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