Pre-state tournament ramblings...
February 13th, 2020 | Written by: Editor



 I probably will not miss the 2020 state championships much as I do not think I will have many reminders of it and the cenilitee is always luming.  But until it takes a firm grasp, I'll put in my two cents (or mayhaps I should give it to the photographers?).

NOTE: I did not mention most fourth-and fifth seeds as they are the ones deemed closest to each other in their abilities, and it is not rare at all for fifth seeds to beat fourth seeds.

Division I

The Crusaders remain the team to beat.  They have defending state champions in Alex Duncan and Mason Massicot, and a 2018 state champion in Connor Hoffman.  Those, however, are their only #1 seeds.  Mason Elsensohn, Ken Burandt, Ethan Castex, Riley Horvath and Cameron Frederick are #2 or #3 seeds, but they will have some tough semifinals matches should the seeds remain true.  Brother Martin has proved they can win tournaments without winning any titles.  They did so at the Billy Duplessis Invitational, yet more importantly they did it at the Trey Culotta Invitational.  And they placed second in a very tough Gulf Coast Clash, losing to an always very tough team from Thompson, Alabama.

St. Paul's has top seeds at 152 lbs. in Peyton Ward and 220 lbs. in defending state champion Cole Ulfers.  The Wolves' #2 and #3 seeds include Jacob Houser, Carter Duet, Ben Davidson, Blain Cascio and Evan Ulfers.  On December 14th St. Paul's defeated the Crusaders 34-29 in a dual meet.  Aside from at 113 lbs., where freshman Bryce Dupre will compete instead of sophomore Trey Faherty, whose season ended via an injury at the Trey Culotta, the Wolves are putting forth exactly the same lineup.

The Crusaders have altered their lineup, although much of that was seen at the District 9-5A championships.  Castex and Hoffman went down a weight class, leaving 138 lbs. to Quinn Williams.  At 113 lbs. they will have Kent Burandt and at 120 lbs., probably dangerous even though he has not competed since January 4th, is Chase Scott.

Just that much parity between the state's two early season Division I favorites is more than enough for Holy Cross to put up their ante and play.  In dual meets St. Paul defeated Holy Cross 45-18 and the Crusaders defeated the Tigers 49-21.  Yet Holy Cross finished as the Louisiana Classic runner-up with only 12 wrestlers.  Granted, St. Paul and Brother Martin were not at full strength either.  First for the Tigers, of course, are the Frost twins, Evan and Jacob, seeded first at 113 lbs. and 120 lbs.  Seeded third are Charles Sauerwin, III and Caruso Signorelli.  Among the lower seeds at 285 is Cole Baiamonte, fresh off of a District 9-5A championship, the sophomore has one loss to a Louisiana wrestler, and that was to Comeaux's #2 seed Donald Paul in a 1-0 match.  (He lost a match due to an injury in the Battle of New Orleans, yet after he was injured, he continued wrestling but could not fend off a fall.)  To make a full roster senior Collin Clement went back to the mats after a bit of a hiatus.  Collin is one of THOSE Clement brothers, should anyone ask.

Let's throw in the wildcards that could make this a very tight team championship which could vault Catholic higher than expected.  The Bears have their own in Louisiana Classic champion Peter Kelly, the second seed at 132 lbs., and undefeated and top-seeded Connor Finucane at 285 lbs.  Ian Wyble has wrestled Massicot well and is seeded third, as is Ethan Ourso and Macullen Mire.

And from other teams there are top-seeds Ernie Perry, III of Airline at 106 lbs., Joshua Keeler of Parkway at 126 lbs., Demetri Teddie of Byrd at 132 lbs., Trent Mahoney of East Ascension, vying for his third consecutive Division I championship, at 170, Jarin Meyer of Baton Rouge at 182 lbs. Christopher Allen of Covington at 195 lbs.  Second and third seed troubles exist in Comeaux's Reed Bergeron and Donald Paul, Live Oak's 2018 Division II state champion Clayton Hill of Live Oak, Corey Brownell of St. Amant, Jacob Yawn of Byrd, Brad Mahoney and Gavin Soniat of East Ascension, Luke Battaglia and Charlie Cyrus of Jesuit, Caleb Garcia of Parkway, Logan Brimmer of Hahnville and Ashton Freeman of Zachary.

As for initially thinking Jesuit merited a 13th spot when it is over, I'll put them in the top eight now.

Division II

After placing second twice, third once and fourth once since 2015, Dustin Burton's North Desoto Griffins won their first Northwestern Louisiana Regionals tournament, scoring 203 points to Parkway's 197.5.  C.E. Byrd placed third with 130.5 points.

Coach Dustin Burton's North Desoto Griffins won the Louisiana Northwest Regional for the first time, defeating perennial favorites Parkway and Airline. Senior Richard Mack, III was 41-2 this season, with his only two losses coming at the Beast Of the East tournament in Delaware, one of the nation's most prestigious high school events.

Griffin champions were defending Division II state champion Joshua Sarpy, Lance Ferguson, Logan Ferguson, 2018 Division II state champion and Louisiana Classic winner Richard Mack, Andrew Gonzales and Dylan Oliver.  Placing second were Isaac Dees and Hunter Addison.  Hunter Hanson and J'on Tavius Thomas placed third while Curtis Brandtley and Jacob Freeman placed fourth.

The Griffins next have their sites on the Division II team championship, held this Friday and Saturday at the CenturyLink Center.  Though the Griffins are probably the favorites, they cannot afford anything less than their best performance.

Sarpy (120 lbs.), Mack (152 lbs.), Gonzales (170 lbs.) and Olivier (195 lbs.) are seeded first for the state championships.  Dees (106 lbs.) is seeded second, as are Lance Ferguson (126 lbs.), Logan Ferguson (138 lbs.) and Hunter Hanson (160 lbs.).  North Desoto has one fourth seed, Addison Hunter (132 lbs.) and one fifth seed, Isaiah Cates (145 lbs.).

Four #1 seeds is a good start, as are fourth #2 seeds and a fifth seed. 

Teurlings Catholic should not be left out of this competition at all.  All 14 are seeded.  Six are seeded 4th or higher.  They have #1 seeds in Ethan Boudreaux (106 lbs.), Matthew Carrier (126 lbs.) and Charles Travasos (160 lbs.) 

Of their second seeds, Charles Hale (152 lbs.) and Vaughn Romero (170 lbs.), neither have competed against their North Desoto counterparts.  A head-head match with Terrance Murray of Parkway seems to be the seeding difference between Gonzalez and Romero.  Murray beat Romero 10-7 in December.  Gonzales pinned Murray in the Louisiana Classic.  Romero, however, placed second at that event while Gonzales placed first.

Consolation round performances should decide the winner. Coach Dustin Burton likes taking his kids to out-of-state events in Arkansas, Delaware, Texas and Oklahoma, which is fine.  Griffins fans have to hope that pays off as North Desoto only started their best wrestlers against the better Louisiana opponents at the Louisiana Classic.

Division III

The surest bet in all three divisions is Basile to repeat as Division III champions.  They have six #1 seeds:  Andre Johnson (106 lbs.), two-time defending Division III state champion Alex Menier (120 lbs.), defending Division III state champion Blake Menier (132 lbs.), Ethan Bazinet (160 lbs.)  and two-time defending Division III state champion Isaac Cortez.  Of their second seeds, Hunter Langley (152 lbs.) will try to reverse the outcome of the 2019 finals match against Brusly's Andrew Trahan (seeded first).  Defending Division III state champion Logan David is seeded second behind St. Michael's Shad Sheffie.  Logan was seeded second in 2019 also.  Third seeds are Luc Johnson (113 lbs.), Ethan Langley (138 lbs.) and Gabe Duplechin (220 lbs.).  The Bearcats' remaining wrestlers include a fifth seed and two seventh seeds.

Brusly can put some pressure on Basile, but perhaps not enough.  Defending Division III state champions Calep Balcuns (138 lbs.) and Andrew Trahan (152 lbs.) could face Bearcats in the finals, as might top seed Brian Amis (220 lbs.).  Three Panthers are seeded in the second-fourth spots.  Marc Martinez is seeded second (132 lbs.).  Kaul Kayser is the third seed at 120 lbs. and Josh Westly (160 lbs.) and Matthew Anderson (170 lbs.) are both fourth seeds.  One Panther each is in the 6th, 7th and 8th spots, giving them a total of 10 seeded wrestlers.

St. Louis also has six wrestlers seeded in the top four places.  Alex Yokubaitis is looking for his fourth consecutive Division III title and is the Saints' sole #1 seed at 126 lbs.  Dohnavan McMichael (113 lbs.) and Kemal Robinson (195 lbs.) are seeded second while Keyshawn Jones (132 lbs.) is seeded third.  St. Louis' remaining seeds consist of one in the five spot and two in the six spots.  The Saints have eight seeded wrestlers.

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