46th Ken Cole Invitational - 120 pounds
When you least expect it...
April 14th, 2023 | Written by: Staff writer



(2) Tyson Roach
Sam Houston
2nd (1) Landon Reaux Southside
3rd Jose Rincon Jesuit
4th (3) Kye Karcher Walker
5th (5) Jesse Maneckshaw East Ascension
6th (7) Braden Lobrano Parkway

Louisiana wrestling will feel as if it had been dealt a severe injustice when Landon Reaux of Southside graduates on May 19th at the Cajun Dome.  That means there will be no more matches between him and Sam Houston's Tyson Roach.  From the 2021-2023 seasons (that is three seasons) the two warriors have met 11 times. 

In a December 2020 dual meet the sophomore Reaux pinned the freshman Roach in 1:13.  At the 2021 state championships Roach fell two matches short of the medal rounds while Reaux won his first Division I state championship. 

The two met three times in the 2021-22 season.  In Reaux's first match of the season (he must have been a very successful nose tackle on the Shark's football team to start that late) it was Roach who scored a fall in 5:45 in a dual meet.  Hence, no mathematical analyses can be made re those two matches.  Falls were not an issue in the next nine matches.  Reaux scored  reversal with 13 seconds remaining in the 2022 Louisiana Classic to escape with a 9-8 lead.  They next faced off at the Ken Cole, and, while starting with a four-point deficit to Roach, Reaux went on a tear and outscored Roach 4-0 in the first 45 seconds.  Before the first period ended, Reaux had regrouped and scored nine unanswered points.  In the next two periods Reaux outscored Roach 15-5, and he settled for a 24-9 TF.  A dominant Roach match first, followed by a last 13 second one-point Reaux win and a dominating Reaux win at the Ken Cole made the 2022 state championships a perfect scenario for one to dominate the season or for the other to square it at 2-2.  Whoever came out of that weight class with a Division I state championship would win the series.  Unfortunately, that match never had a chance.  Landon Failed to make weight on the Friday of the state championships.   Roach then cruised to an easy division I title.

In the 2022-23 season the two met each other seven times.  Roach beat Reaux 13-1 MD in the Spartan Invitational finals.  Six days later Reaux defeated Roach 16-9 in a dual meet.  Eighteen days later Roach defeated Reaux 14-5 MD in the Jacob McMillan finals.  After that, Reaux took control.  He defeated Roach 12-11 in the Trey Culotta semifinals and 26-15 in the Public-School Wrestling Championships finals.  Two weeks later Reaux won his third, and second over Roach, Louisiana Classic title 8-5.  A week later, after each scored a fall and two technical falls to reach the finals, they were to meet for the last time, as Reaux is a senior and Roach only a junior, in the Ken Cole finals. 

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Roach destroyed the senior Shark 12-2 MD.  Reaux appeared devastated after the match. 

One can only imagine what went through Landon Reaux's head at that moment.  Everything was going so well of late.  He had soundly beaten Brother Martin's Jacob Elsensohn twice since initially losing to Elsensohn in the Trey Culotta pool rounds.  He had not faced Catholic' defending state champion Watts Goodson, though, despite an attempt to manufacture that match at the LACL.  Roach, the kid he had beaten in their prior two matches, took care of Goodson in the LACL quarterfinals.  Then Roach beat the #1 seed to meet Reaux in the finals - a match Reaux won.  Reaux was all set to regain the Division I championship he won in 2021 but could not vie for in 2022 because...well...he missed weight at the Friday weigh-in in 2022.  But, it seemed after this match, something had gone horribly wrong.

It really had not.  He had lost matches before.  Generally, he came back stronger when he did.

For Roach, this was, in theory, his last tough match of his junior year and maybe the remainder of his high-school wrestling career.  With Reaux missing weight in 2022, Roach cruised to the Division I finals via three falls and scored a 16-4 MD in the finals.  This season, though, Sam Houston had moved to Division II.  Against Division II competition he was 5-0, including two first period falls over TC's defending Division II state champion.  His only losses were one to Elsensohn and the four to Reaux, both of Division I.  Barring something really unexpected, Roach could just put himself on autopilot to win a Division II title.

Reaux, though, had to be thinking about the toughest weight class in Division I this year, despite the fact that two strong competitors moved out of it earlier in 2023.  Reaux would be seeded first and Goodson possibly second.  Elsensohn, though, was a wildcard.  He could be seeded second as he had defeated Goodson 1-0, or he could be seeded fifth, in Reaux's side of the bracket, if one counted the two forfeits he was forced to take after being injured at the LACL.  Walker's Kye Karcher was there, as was East Ascension's Jesse Maneckshaw and Landon Smith of Holy Cross.  Then there was this upstart Jesuit kid who beat Karcher to place third at this event.

Reaux had a lot of work to do.  But 'tis often said it is better to lose in January than in February.  It is particularly true when such a loss would not affect one's state seeding.

Event Reaux Roach Difference Standard Deviation
Spartan Invitational Finals 1 13 -12  
Dual Meet 16 9 7  
Jacob McMillan Finals 5 14 -9  
Trey Culotta Semifinals 12 11 1  
Public-School Wrestling Championship Finals 26 15 11  
Louisiana Classic Finals 9 5 4  
Ken Cole Finals 2 12 -10  

I did some more math, just for fun.  (OK, I typed in the numbers and let Excel do the math.)

Look at the 2013-14 season.  The two best wrestlers at 132 lbs. were two-time Division I state champion Paul Klein of Brother Martin and Holy Cross' George Benoit, twice a Division II bridesmaid.  Their first match was in the Ken Cole finals, and Benoit handed Klein his sole loss of the season 3-1.  Nine days later Klein recorded a 3-2 win over Benoit in a dual meet.  The two met in the Division I finals and Klein prevailed 3-1.

Standard deviation is a measure of the amount of variation of a set of values.  For Klein and Benoit, that value is 2.08.  Keep in mind that the figure entails the four-point swing of the match each won 3-1.  That is something on which Las Vegas could make a feasible betting line.

Look at the Reaux-Roach scores, though.  In their first two matches there was a 19-point swing, via Roach winning by 12 and then Reaux winning by 7.  The standard deviation in their matches is 9.15.  It means one just cannot predict with anything remotely construed as certainty what one will do to the other that is worthy of a Vegas betting line.  The matches defy logic when one speaks of the two best wrestlers in a weight class.  The scores should  be very close, yet they are not.

For all of those who think advanced math like algebra, geometry and statistics are generally useless, I just used it to prove something that makes no sense whatsoever.  Contemplate that while you forget the Pythagorean Theorem.

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Wrestling fans should not feel as if they have been dealt an injustice.  They should feel honored to have witnessed more than just the stark enthusiasm that these two young men bring to the mats.  They should appreciate the chance to see the off-the-mats camaraderie between the two.  At any event in which they are competing, when they are not "between the whistles," one has a 50-50 chance of finding one with the other, along with Dutchtown's Cole Mire and/or Walker's Kye Karcher.

Prior to the Ken Cole finals Roach came up to me to ask if I would take a photo of him and Reaux, no matter what happened during the match, immediately afterward.  I took a 15-second break when the match was over and, when I looked up, Roach and Reaux were in the center of the mat waiting on me.
Goofballs Reaux, Roach and Mire at the PSWC Long ago in a galaxy far away (Reaux far left, Roach far right) A glimpse into the future (with TC's Brennan Boyer)

What Reaux and Roach have done over the years is the best we can hope for out of wrestling.  It transcends state championships or tournament titles.  It is the epitome of "respect your opponent" to the point of, heck, why not, even like your opponent.  Help each other get better and help others as well.  "Between the whistles" forget you know the other ki'ds name.  After the final whistle, though, it is now that you win or lose, it is how you win or lose.  Coaches can and often do try to teach this.  But learning it is another matter.  It is a self-honed trait.

Unless I develop cardiac problems I will miss seeing these two competing against each other.

Yes, there were others in this weight class.  The Blue Jay upstart mentioned above probably wrestled himself onto the state championship roster for the Blue Jays with an 8-4 win over 2021 Division III state champion Luke Caballero of St. Louis, with a 6-2 win over #5 Jesse Maneckshaw of East Ascension and an 11-6 win over #3 Kye Karcher of Walker to place third.  Maneckshaw took 5th-place with a 2:06 fall over Parkway's Brayden Lobrano.

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Preliminary Rounds

R1: (5) Jesse Maneckshaw (EA) pinned Brayden Turner (ACA) in 0:41
(3) Kye Karcher (WLK) pinned Baylor Terrell (ND) in 0:45
Gavin Ohlmeyer (RUM) defeated Loren Stockman (HC) 6-4

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(1) Landon Reaux (SS) defeated (5) Jesse Maneckshaw (EA) 18-2 TF
(2) Tyson Roach (SH) defeated (3) Kye Karcher (WLK) 17-2 TF

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Third-Sixth Place

Jose Rincon (JES) defeated (3) Kye Karcher (WLK) 11-6 to place 3rd
(5) Jesse Maneckshaw (EA) pinned (7) Braden Lobrano (PKY) in 2:06 to place 5th 

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(2) Tyson Roach (SH) defeated (1) Landon Reaux (SS) 12-2 MD


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