Walker: Brother Martin’s Paul Klein wins fourth state wrestling title _lowres

Advocate staff photo by RUSTY COSTANZA -- Brother Martin's Paul Klein Martin, front, defeated Holy Cross' Joey Foret in the Division I 132-pound weight class at the LHSAA State Wrestling Tournament on Saturday at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner. It was Klein's fourth state championship.

So just how good is Brother Martin wrestler Paul Klein?

Well, check out this résumé.

It pretty much speaks for itself.

On Saturday night, he won the 132-pound weight class, marking his fourth straight individual LHSAA state championship.

He became the first wrestler to do that in Division I, the big boys of LHSAA wrestling.

He went undefeated this season, winning 45 matches with no losses.

Still not impressed?

I bet this next tidbit will.

He wrestled his entire senior season after completely tearing the ACL in his right knee during the summer. He also partially tore his lateral cruciate ligament and had a torn lateral meniscus.

Basically what that means is Klein was better on one leg than most folks are with two.

“At first, it was really tough because my knee kept popping out,” Klein said.

But he wasn’t going to let that prevent him from chasing a milestone that nobody else had done in LHSAA history.

“I wasn’t going to miss this season,” he said.

So he did what he has done all season before every match: Prayed with his team; prayed by himself, strapped on his black knee brace, ate his oatmeal, protein bar and peanut butter and jelly sandwich and beat every opponent he faced.

Saturday night, it was his left knee that he felt pop out late in the match. Of course, that wasn’t going to stop him either.

He went on to claim a 10-5 victory over Joey Foret of Holy Cross.

He then flashed four fingers and flexed his muscles toward the throng of Brother Martin fans among the announced crowd of 3,972.

Klein won the 106-pound weight class as a freshman, the 120 as a sophomore and repeated as 132-pound champion to stake his claim as one of the best LHSAA wrestlers ever.

You won’t get any argument from his coach.

“I think Paul is the best wrestler to ever come through the LHSAA because he is a four-time state champion,” Brother Martin coach Robert Dauterive said. “I know he is the best wrestler I have been around.”

Klein was pretty much born to wrestle.

His father wrestled at Holy Cross.

Klein started the sport when he was 5, wrestling with a local Olympic facility started by Jim Ravannack.

Years later as a kid, he would help at the state championship matches and dream of winning four straight titles.

He was nervous Saturday night, as nervous as he has ever been, he said afterwards.

“Coach always tells me to go out there and have fun and don’t worry about the stuff I can’t really control, so that’s really it,” he said.

He got an early takedown to set the tone and was on his way into the history books.

Next season, he’ll head to Arizona State, where Dauterive expects even bigger things from him.

“The next time I go into a big arena and watch Paul wrestle, it will be in the NCAA tournament,” Dauterive said. “He is just a sponge, a student of the sport.”

But before he heads off to college, he’ll first go under the knife.

He has knee surgery scheduled for Wednesday.

He had put it off all season to go for championship No. 4.

“What he’s done is simply incredible,” Dauterive said. “We don’t know how incredible it is because he hasn’t said a word about it. I don’t know if a normal kid could do what he did.”

But Paul isn’t your normal kid is he coach, I asked?

“No, he’s not,” Dauterive answered. “He’s Superman.”