Can the Spartans or Griffins dethrone the Bears?
January 19th, 2024| Written by: Staff writer



[It is almost midnight, so this was not proofed a lot.]

The last time a team other than Tommy Prochaska’s Catholic Bears won the Greater Baton Rouge Championships was 2014, when a Brusly team with Kendon Lee Kayser and Trevor Schermer earned GBR bragging rights with a six-point win.  Before that it was a Redemptorist team coached by Guy Mistretta in 2002.

Saturday’s Greater Baton Rouge Championships might be the third time in over a score of years that the Bears do not take home the championship.  Pat Mahoney’s East Ascension Spartans should be the favorites to win their first GBR team championship.  They made their case on November 1st when the Spartans out-dueled the Bears in a dual meet 48-32.  (Did everyone see how “duel” and “dual” were used in the last sentence?)  The Spartans also scored 17.5 points more than the Bears at the Louisiana Classic (LACL). 

In their first and, to date, last competitions East Ascension beat Catholic without anyone named Maneckshaw on their teams.  The monozygotic twins, Jesse (4th in 2023 Division I) and Lucas (6th in 2023 Division I) are scheduled to compete on Saturday. 

Then, again, the Dutchtown Griffins may be a threat.  They finished only 23 points behind the Spartans at the 5-5A District Championships and finished only seven points behind Catholic at the LACL.

Things should get interesting early on.  At 106 lbs. Dutchtown’s Aidan Thai has a 3-1 record versus East Ascension’s Holden Wempren.  Thai won the first three matches 11-8 SV, 9-3 and 9-8.  Wempren won their last match convincingly, though, 13-6.

Dutchtown’s Noah Hyatt should be favored at 113 lbs. and Jesse Maneckshaw at 120 lbs.

At 126 lbs. Walker’s Kye Karcher and Catholic’s Christian Worley will be the favorites.  Worley may be the top seed as he split matches against Landon Smith of Holy Cross whereas Karcher lost his only match against Smith.  That was a 10-8 SV match, so the Worley-Karcher finals should be something worth seeing.

At 132 lbs. look to see Aiden Krass of EA seeded first with Catholic’s 2023 Division I runner-up Kristian Scott second.  Both lost close matches to Brother Martin’s Hunter Chabert, but Scott lost to Jesuit’s J.P. Webre 4-3 at the LACL.  Krass defeated Webre 6-4 to place third at that event.  I will not go into the seeding scenarios but know that it is possible that a Scott win over Krass may put Webre in the #2 spot, Scott at #3 and Krass at #4 for the state championships.  I do not believe any one of those four really cares where they are seeded.

EA’s Jamarcus Thomas is the top-seed at 138 and his main competition should be Reece Knight of Catholic.  Thomas is funky.   Not as funky as Jackson Calderaro of Jesuit, and by no means as funky as Brother Martin coach Kyle Delaune was, but he extricates himself out of bad positions quite well.

Dutchtown junior Cole Gros had great starts in the last two seasons but faltered near the end.  Not so this year, though.  He should be a solid favorite to win this event and be the #1 seed at the state championships.

Live Oak’s Kolton West technically has two wins over Zachary’s Sergio Houston.  One, however, was via a disqualification.  The other was a 10-8 decision.  Nobody should forget that the heavier Maneckshaw twin, Lucas (apparently the favorite of their parents as Lucas gets fed), is also in that weight class.

EA freshman Braylon Stewart can all but assure himself a second-seed spot at 157 lbs. with a GBR title.  He will have to get through a mass of talented seniors to do so, though.  Dutchtown’s Foster Shank, Catholic’s Gabe Cuba, St. Amant’s Korey Toney and Live Oak’s Nicholas Collier come to mind, first.  (OK, the seeding is on TW.)  There are 11 other entrants to contend with as well.

Brusly has the #1 seed at 165 lbs. in Beau Rabalais.  Rabalais pinned second-seeded Kevin West of Live Oak in November and placed fifth at the LACL.

Dutchtown’s William Mathis lost to the LACL champion from Gilroy, California last weekend, but then defeated Jesuit’s Patrick Matthews and avenged a November loss to Airline’s Ty Parker to place third.  He will face some familiar competition in St. Amant’s Bradley Anderson, though.  Mathis pinned Anderson in the Spartan Invitational but lost a 6-5 match to the Gator in the District 5-5A Championships.

EA senior Jacobi Clement has not lost a match all season.  A win at this event will lock-up a #1 seeding at the state championships.  He is 52-0 on the season, which is not too bad for a kid who did not make it on the podium in 2023.  He has a fall over second-seeded Gavin Landry of Central and two falls over third-seeded Billy Edmonston of Live Oak.  

2023 Division I runner-up Gage Kelly of Live Oak is the top-seed at 215 lbs.  He has a fall over Catholic’s Blair Rousseau, the second-seed, and a decision over the #3 seed from EA, Jase Campbell. 

At 285 lbs., put your money on Gabriel Millbern of Walker.  He has four losses this season.  One was in early November to Kelly, who is at 215 lbs. now.  Two others were to Jesuit’s Spencer Lanosga, and, well, nobody in Louisiana has figured out how to beat that Blue Jay in a few years.  His other was to Austin Young of De la Salle in the LACL consolation finals.  Millbern beat Young at the Trygg/Sara.  Lanosga and Young will not be in Baton Rouge on Saturday.  It will take a fluke of the highest magnitude to beat the Wildcat senior. 

This should be a closely contested team tournament.  The Spartans have six #1 seeds.  The Griffins have three.  Catholic only has one but a couple of third or fourth seeds may slip into the finals.  If not, Catholic should go deep into the consolation brackets.

Major decisions, technical falls and falls may be the points that win this championship.  That is true of most tournaments.  Now is not the time to forget that.


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