Like most of the 22 teams in Saturday’s Brusly Invitational, De La Salle wasn’t at full strength, whether because of injuries, attrition or sickness.
That’s not why Cavaliers coach Rod Cusachs came, though.
“We came in and we saw and that was my goal, to come in and see what was out there in Division III,” Cusachs said. “It’s the first time we’ve seen most Division III kids all season and now we know what we have to do to improve for the state tournament.”
The defending state runner-up Cavaliers, missing wrestlers in two weight classes, finished third in the Division III-only tournament, separated from second by only 19.5 points.
Though Cusachs only had one tournament champion, 182-pounder Joe Clark, he said he was pleased with his shorthanded team’s effort.
Clark needed 4:25 to dispatch of Doyline’s Chris Inocencio, getting the pin in the second round to end the day on a positive note.
“I’m excited,” Cusachs said. “I think we’ll be fine once state comes.”
Tournament host and three-time defending state champion Brusly pulled away late to take the title, though it was also without a full compliment of wrestlers.
Panthers coach Jimmy Bible said though injuries and attrition have his team’s numbers smaller than usual, the quality across his lineup is unrivaled.
“To do this with missing all these weight classes and having starters out, it was surprising to me,” Bible said.
Brusly had four tournament champions, the most of any team in the field, spearheaded by Kendon Lee, who needed just 2:24 to pin De La Salle’s Glenn Gebo.
Lee’s focus was driven by his narrow 7-5 loss to Brother Martin senior and Arizona State signee Paul Klein last week at the Deep South Bayou Duals. The two will likely meet again at next week’s Louisiana Classic, the state’s premier all-division tournament to be held at Baton Rouge Community College.
“That’s definitely fueling me,” Lee said. “I want to win that match so bad with everything I have. That’s definitely been fueling me. I’m going to go out there and give it my all next week when I wrestle him.”
Joining Lee atop the winners podium were 113-pounder Austin Franklin, 152-pounder Richard Hunter and 160-pounder Koby Mancuso.
Mancuso scored a 16-4 major decision over Evangel’s Zyare Hairston, though Bible said his strongest asset comes in his teamwork.
“Can’t say enough about Koby,” Bible said. “He’s been with me for four years, a program guy, a Brusly guy and he wants the team to win and he does what he has to do to be successful.”
Second-place finishers Basile ended the tournament with three champions and North Vermillion, the fourth-place finisher, ended with two champions.