2024 LHSAA State Wrestling Championships
February 10th-11th, 2024
Brookshire Grocery Arena - Bossier City, Louisiana

Blue Jays, Rebels and Eagles win 2023 LHSAA State Wrestling Championships
August 20th, 2023| Written by: Staff Writer




Ernie Perry, III Rocket Scientists Notes Candids Team Contingents Louisiana Wrestling News

The 2023 LHSAA State Wrestling Championships were held at the Brookshire Grocery Arena in Bossier City, Louisiana, on February 10th and 11th, 2023.  Coming away with top honors were Jesuit High School in Division I, Teurlings Catholic High School in Division II and Archbishop Shaw High School in Division III.  Anyone not allowed inside the barricades should agree that the Brookshire Grocery Arena is by far a superior venue for the event than the River Center in Baton Rouge.  It is larger, which means there is plenty of room outside of the barricades for people with no business being inside of them.  Sigh...

That Teurlings Catholic won Division II was not unexpected.  Shaw winning Division III was expected, but that it was more difficult than many may have expected was not expected. 

But nobody knew what to expect in Division I.

Brother Martin and Jesuit were expected to vie for the Division I team championship.  The Crusaders defeated both the Blue Jays and the Teurlings Catholic Rebels 36-33 in February.  Yet there was a wild card nobody expected.  Despite having lost dual meets to the Crusaders and the Blue Jays, the Catholic Bears came out of nowhere to win the Louisiana Classic.  The Bears did not just win the event, they dominated it, winning by 45 points over not Brother Martin or Jesuit, but Teurlings Catholic.  And they did so without winning any of their four finals matches. 

The Louisiana Classic Bears were the ones who showed-up in Bossier City.  Jesuit and Catholic flip-flopped leads after the semifinals while the Crusaders fell out of the hunt.  The Bears, though, could only "convert" one of five finals matches in their favor.  Even though the win was against a Jesuit opponent, it was not enough to carry them through the last match of the evening.  The four-point Jesuit win was the closest Division I race since 1988 when Bonnabel, Holy Cross and Jesuit tied for the Division I championship.

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Division I Champs
Jesuit Blue Jays

Division II Champs
Teurlings Catholic Rebels

Division III Champs
Archbishop Shaw Eagles

Division I Runners-up
Catholic Bears

Division II Runners-up
North Desoto Griffins

Division III Runners-up
Basile Bearcats

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Ernie Perry, III

One thing was expected, though.  Bossier City was the perfect venue for this particular state championship tournament.  Bossier City's Airline High School can boast of being the first public school to produce a four-time Division I state champion.  Senior Ernie Perry, III cannot only claim the honor of being the first public school wrestler to achieve the event, but also the first to do so without ever losing to a Louisiana wrestler, compiling a four-year 99-0 record against in-state competition.  Only Brother Martin's Paul Klein (2012-2015) and Stephen Shields (2014-17) can boast winning four consecutive Division I state titles. 

Ernie Perry, III
Division I
Outstanding Wrestler
Perry also became only the third wrestler to win four-consecutive Louisiana Classic titles, joining Korey Miller of St. Paul and Airline alumnus Matt Rabinowitz
In this tournament Perry scored falls in 1:12, 0:36, 1:18, 4:00 and won his fourth state finals match via a 13-1 major decision.

Rocket Scientists

The 2023-24 Wrestling All-Academic Composite Team
(Apians need not apply)*

The 2023-24 Wrestling All-Academic Composite Team, consisting of student-athletes with 4.00 GPAs, are, from left to right:
Ephraim Craddock: St. Amant; Hunter Addison: North Desoto; Neil Muralles: Love Oak; Lian Palermo: Dutchtown; James Reina: St. Louis Catholic; Caleb Andrews: Belle Chasse; Jason Brown: Shaw; Mohammed Jamhour: Airline

If a student forgot to bring a #2 pencil to an exam or left a hanging chad, resulting in a GPA from 3.5 to 3.99, the student made this list:

2023-24All-Academic Team by Divisions 

*  Really?  No B's allowed!

(FYI - these are the guys you should ask if you wonder why some pages are a lot more detailed than others.  Hint:  It is August!)

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Division I

Holy Cross came in fourth with a squad comprised of only three seniors.  Two of them placed third while the other did not score any points.  In the 2023-24 season they will have a junior defending state champion, a junior 2023 runner-up, two 2023 third-place winners and two 2023 fourth-place winners.  Add a 2023 sixth-place winner and this will be a team to reckon with.

The third-place Brother Martin Crusaders will also have juniors including a defending state champion and a 2023 runner-up.  But they graduated six seniors who accounted for 91.5, or 38% of their team points.  That may not sound like too much, but two of the returning placers were runners-up and two others placed third and fifth.  There is not a lot of room for improvement on the team and they were 19.5 points behind Jesuit.  The return of Jacob Elsensohn, however, should keep the Crusaders very viable contenders.

Catholic, who placed second, might have a harder time matching their 2023 performance.  The Bears lost nine wrestlers to graduation.  Those wrestlers scored 176.5 or 68% of Catholic's points.  That is a lot of points to makeup.

The champion Blue Jays are losing five seniors but they combined to score only 76.5, or a mere 29% of Jesuit's points.  Jesuit will have two state champions, two runners-up and four other state placers returning.  Suffice to say that Jon Orillion's squad looks, for the moment, like a team that can defend their Division I title.

Division II

Teurlings Catholic is losing six seniors, three of whom were state champions.  But the Rebels are returning three state champions and five runners-up. 

Is North Desoto catching up?  Well, they did quite a bit in 2023 compared to 2022, and they only lost five to graduation.  Two state champions and three runners-up are returning, but they will need some more to seriously challenge the Rebels.

Division III

Can Shaw repeat their first team state wrestling championship?  Yes, they can, and they probably will.  They lost four wrestlers to graduation who scored only 27% of their championship total.  Basile lost six seniors who combined for 58% of their total points.  That represents a huge gap, and may lead to a team like Evangel, who only entered 11 wrestlers, lost none to graduation, has two returning state champions, two returning runners-up and three other placers, taking home the runner-up plaque.


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75 Years Ago - 1948


February 27th February 28th
A final article of this event did not make itself readily available, but Coach Bill Bofinger did not let that stop him in his book "Ready...Wrestle."  Brother Melchior Polowy's Holy Cross Tigers had nine state champions and 10 runners-up in the event.  Of interest is Byrd's Ray Kightlinger, who placed second, as he did in 1947.  Kightlinger would win the title in 1949.  Edwin Stacy of Jesuit won his first of two titles, and three years later, in 1951, would lead Jesuit to their first team championship.  Sure, Holy Cross was not there as Brother Melchior was ill, but one can only wrestle who shows up, right?

50 Years Ago - 1973

February 16th February 17th February 18th February 19th
Coach Surachai "Sam" Harnsongkram won his second Louisiana Interscholastic Wrestling Championship by 12.5 points over Holy Cross.  Among the individual champions were Brother Martin's Scott Oswald, who later in life took please in tying at least one sophomore in knots at Jesuit summer workouts, and Louisiana Wrestling Hall of Fame member Mike Gaffney of Jesuit.

25 Years Ago - 1998

February 12 February 13th February 13th February 14th February 14th February 14th
February 15th February 15th February 15 February 15th February 16th February 16th
1998 marked the 18th and last title for Coach Sam, as the Blue Jays outscored the Brother Martin Crusaders 240-245. 

15 Years Ago - 2008

February 8th February 10th February 10th February 10th February 10th
Catholic High School won its second Division I team championship and first under Coach Tommy Prochaska.  Ironically, the Bears outscored Jesuit by four points to win the title.

Team Contingents


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Louisiana Wrestling News

The LHSAA allowed the Louisiana Wrestling News three press credentials for this event, for which the Louisiana Wrestling News is very appreciative.

Emily Hamann (far left) was the first photographer to help me back in 2016.  She was there in 2017, 2018, 2019, was available in 202 and offered to come to Baton Rouge in 2022.  Jonathan Belaire covered the 2019 event, was available in 2020 and did come to Baton Rouge in 2021.  Anna Tedesco started in 2017, was there in 2018, 2019, was available in 2020 and also came to Baton Rouge in 2022.

Jonathan, Emily, Anna and some random corpse at Red Lobster.  Anna's Lobsterita.  Emily preventing a crisis.  Two-time LWN photographer Anthony Benedetto.  Emily in a position of which the editor is not familiar (plus, I was wearing a tux!).  A "monster cab" at the Outback Steakhouse across from my hotel, which will definitely supplant Red Lobster for the Thursday night dinner.

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