The Catholic High Bears took advantage of playing at home Saturday by taking the championship trophy at the conclusion of the 47th Greater Baton Rouge City Wrestling tournament.

Twelve teams and their wrestlers made it into the championship round. The Bears won four of the individual titles and held off the St. Amant Gators for the team championship by the score of 263-228.

It was no surprise that at the end of Friday’s competitions the Bears and the Gators were No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, and that Catholic held a very slim lead (103-100.5) over the Gators. St. Amant and Catholic were ready to give it an old-fashioned duke-it-out in the semifinal and final rounds Saturday.

Two of the Gator wrestlers really stepped things up on Friday. Sophomore Nakia Brown in the 140-pound class took on the third-seeded Cameron Butler, of Live Oak, for a win and then went on to beat his next opponent as well. Junior Cameron Hyde in the 147-pound class made the semifinals, along with Brown.

The Gators had three champions for the event: Clint Brownell in the 154-pound class, Sage Nugent in the 170-pound class and Jordan Averett in the 182-pound class. Nugent also was named Outstanding Wrestler at the Louisiana Classic Tournament earlier this month. He repeated his effort and took home the outstanding wrestler award for the upper weight classes from this tournament.

This was Averett’s first city title after finishing third the past two years. Averett has put in a lot of work in the past four years to overcome some very difficult circumstances. He’s made it through a broken back, foot surgery, knee injury and shoulder injury to finally accomplish his dreams.

Team scores are as follows: 1. Catholic High, 263. 2. St. Amant, 228. 3. Live Oak, 172. 4. McKinley, 133. 5. Brusly, 132.5. 6. Dutchtown, 109.5. 7. Zachary, 90. 8. Central, 89. 9. East Ascension, 69.5. 10. Episcopal, 64. 11. St. Michael, 59. 12. Dunham, 57.5. 13. Baton Rouge High, 35. 14. Tara, 14. 15. Woodlawn, 9.

In the finals matches at 122 pounds, Brier Babin, of St. Amant, lost to Cameron Carpenter, of Catholic, (9-6). At 134 pounds, Landon Wheat, of East Ascension, lost to Austin Franklin, of Brusly, (7-2). At 140 pounds, Brendan Warner, of Dutchtown, lost to Davis Polito, of Catholic, (9-7). At 154 pounds, Brownell, of St. Amant, pinned Andrew Messina, of Catholic, at 1:10 of their match. At 172 pounds, Nugent, of St. Amant, defeated Richard Hunter, of Brusly, (11-9). At 184 pounds, Averett, of St. Amant, defeated Ellis Herring, of Episcopal, (4-3). At 287 pounds, Jordan Campbell, of East Ascension, lost to K.J. Wilson, of Catholic, pinned at 2:55.

Soccer district titles

In Gonzales, two hard-fought rivalry teams were hoping for a sweep in soccer district championships. As fate would have it, a split of the two title games was in store as the St. Amant boys and the Spartan girls took the district titles.

The boys’ game came down to last-minute heroics from the Gators as they were down by a goal with two minutes left to play. Against all odds, St. Amant (15-2-1) pulled off a highlight reel comeback victory on Thursday night. The Gators stormed back and snatched a 2-1 win from the clutches of the Spartans (11-4-5) with a pair of last-minute goals. The come-from-behind victory clinched the Gators’ first district title since 2002.

In the 78th minute of the match, freshman Henry Ecker started the rally with a goal. Spartan goalkeeper Dohnovan Aguilar kept the Gators from the goal with many clutch saves and aggressive tackles on breakaways. But Aguilar couldn’t keep senior Seth Benoit away as he scored the game-winning goal just at the end of time when he picked up a rebound in front of the net. Aguilar made a save on Benoit’s original shot but couldn’t get back in time to stop Benoit’s game winner.

EA 3, St. Amant 1

The Spartan girls went into their match with St. Amant needing only a tie to secure their first district title in three years. They did a little better than a tie, posting a 3-1 win over the Gators.

The Spartans were ranked ninth in the latest LHSAA power rankings. St. Amant was ranked sixth going into the contest, but East Ascension still managed the victory, taking advantage of senior forward Blaire Laiche’s two goals even while she endured leg cramps through the match.

It would have been tempting to sit on the 1-1 tie at halftime, but the Spartans couldn’t take that chance with St. Amant’s potent offense. East Ascension (17-2-3) took it to the Gators (9-3-5) from the start of the second period, outshooting them 9-2. None of those nine shots was more important than Laiche’s 68th-minute game-winner.

Laiche capitalized on her speed, taking a 40-yard through ball from Dari Johnson into open space and slotting it in the goal. The Spartans’ Maylen Mire put on the finishing touches with a stoppage-time. Jacie Dencausse put in St. Amant’s lone goal in the eighth minute.

Richardson is head coach

Eighteen people were in the running to take over as head football coach and athletic director at Donaldsonville High School. Some of the applicants were from outside the Baton Rouge area, signifying the interest in this position. Donaldsonville Principal Marvin Evans chose to stay close to home, tapping former Tigers player and 15-year assistant coach Brian Richardson to take the reins.

Richardson graduated from Donaldsonville in 1992 and went to Southern University, where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He spent only one season in his coaching career as an assistant with Eric Randall at Southern Lab and the next 15 years at his hometown alma mater, Donaldsonville High. Along with his duties as the assistant football coach, Richardson also has put in time as the head coach for the girls and boys track team as well as an assistant basketball coach.

Richardson takes over for Benny Guilbeau, who resigned after this past season. The Tigers went on to finish 3-7 for the season and a 3-4 record in District 6-3A. The upcoming football season will pose somewhat of a challenge for Richardson as the Tigers have some of their top seniors leaving, including Stephen Sullivan, the DHS star wide receiver who already has enrolled at LSU.

Richardson is ready, willing and able to take on the new position as defensive coordinator Jay Dykes and offensive coordinator Hebert Washington are set to return to the staff.

State of the Pier Address

About twice a year, I like to give a State of the Pier Address to let my constituents (fellow outdoor enthusiasts) know how things are going around our area. I am pleased to announce that things are going as good as could be expected.

The first area I’d like to address is the catfish. Late winter starts the catfish run as they are feeding in preparation of the annual spawning ritual. The fishing is usually good this time of year, and it’s living up to expectations as they are biting.

Adding to the anticipation of just how good it’s going to get, as this event usually lasts to mid-May, is the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway. The influx of Mississippi River water that ends up in Lake Pontchartrain comes with tons of catfish, among lots of other fish. These fish will end up our way through Lake Maurepas, then the Amite and Blind rivers.

That usually ends up doubling the amount of catfish available to any angler who might want to invest a little time and effort for some great eating. Catfish are easier to catch than most of the other species as they are on the move constantly, hence the need to feed more.

For the average angler, a rod and reel is all you need for tackle. Good bait to use is night crawlers (easy to get) or small crawfish that can be caught in any ditch that holds water most of the year. With all the warm weather we’ve had, they are in abundant supply. I’ve been able to get them easy with a dip net.

The bream are biting, as well. They are not in the abundance as when the weather is a little warmer, but the larger ones are what you catch in the cold water. The flavor of that sweet flesh is at its peak. Night crawlers will work fine on these, but if you dip for some crawfish and you catch some small ones, which will work best, they can’t resist them.

The bass are spawning a little earlier as the temperature has been a little higher than usual. Top water baits such as a rogue along with plastic lures or jigs are key offerings at this time of the year. But fishing is fishing and not catching. It might take a little experimenting and patience to figure them out, but this is the best time of the year to give it a try. The State of the Pier is good.

Lyle Johnson covers sports for The Ascension Advocate. He can be contacted at reelman@eatel.net or ascension@theadvocate.com.