Zachary High wrestling coach Mark Moreau is looking for a few good men.
The Broncos have admittedly struggled this season, not because they lack quality athletes, but because they just don’t have enough of them.
“We don’t have as many kids as we’ve had in the past,” said Moreau, who is in his 11th year as wrestling coach. “We have more boys at Zachary than ever, but we don’t have the numbers coming out for our team. We need to get more publicity and get little kids involved in the sport earlier. There’s a lot of room for wrestling at Zachary.”
Low participation hurts in team competitions, especially against opponents who have depth.
“Our weakness is we don’t have as many people out there as some of the other teams we’re facing,” Moreau said. “We have three weight classes where we have to forfeit because we don’t have anyone to fill the slots. Our biggest weakness is we’re missing kids.”
Moreau acknowledges wrestling is not an easy sport, and it demands a lot from competitors for them to do well. It’s also not high profile like football, baseball or basketball, but he said the flip side of that is kids will have an opportunity to compete right away and they’re not going to get cut from the team.
The Broncos were 13th in the state last year in Division I and placed third at the state meet. He’d like to see at least two of his top wrestlers place this year.
Moreau sings the praises of his seniors, particularly Kennan Tate and Payton Wicker. Tate wrestles in the 195-pound classification while Wicker competes at 182. Entering this week, Wicker was 15-3, having lost to one competitor twice.
Until a month ago, Tate was busy helping the Broncos win their first state football title, playing starting linebacker and nabbing a key interception for coach David Brewerton’s team in the championship game.
“They’re two good leaders, and they lead by example for the other kids,” Moreau said of Wicker and Tate. “I can’t tell you how good of leaders they are, and they’ve stayed the course. They made themselves good athletes by working hard, and they’ve gotten good.”
The Broncos have two other seniors — Silas Simonson at 220 and Ty Depew at heavyweight — who contribute effectively.
“Everybody else is doing a good job, they get out there and do their best,” Moreau said. “They’re improving. We’ve got six or seven ninth-graders, and they’re trying to do the best they can, too. We have a chance to be good in the future.”
His assistant coach, Steven Thomas, is a defensive coordinator for the football team and encourages players to come out for wrestling.
“Tate’s been wrestling for us for four years,” Moreau said. “It’s paid off for him because he hung with it and has been working hard. He’s a star on the football team and a good wrestler, and the two go hand in hand. Wrestling also teaches discipline and hard work.”
One way Moreau’s been trying to recruit wrestlers is by attracting middleschoolers to the sport. He said they get the opportunity to go to tournaments and practices and see what it’s like to be part of the team.
Moreau’s squad will be busy for the next month or so, with dual meets at St. Amant and Live Oak this week; the Ken Cole Lafayette Invitational on Jan. 22-23; a dual meet with Catholic High on Jan. 27; the Baton Rouge City Championships at Catholic, Jan. 29-30; and the Division I State Championships at the CenturyLink Center in Shreveport, Feb. 12-13.
A big upcoming highlight is USA Wrestling, which hold its first tournament of the year at Zachary High from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 20.
Moreau expects about 200 to 300 athletes to compete at the event and encourages the community to attend.
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