As expected, Catholic High and St. Amant sit atop the team scoring after the first day of the 47th annual Greater Baton Rouge City Wrestling Championship Tournament.
Through two championship rounds and two consolation rounds, the Bears hold a slim 103-100.5 lead over the Gators.
Live Oak (74.5 points), McKinley (67) and Brusly (61) round out the top five. Live Oak and Brusly each have six wrestlers in the championship semifinals and McKinley has five.
The tournament concludes Saturday with consolation quarterfinals beginning at 9 a.m. Championship semifinals begin at 10:00, with finals scheduled to begin a 2 p.m.
Both St. Amant and Catholic seem healthy and primed to fight it out in the semifinal and final rounds Saturday, even if both coaches were ailing on Friday night. Catholic coach Tommy Prochaska was fighting the flu, and St. Amant coach Brian Hess had a splitting headache after a day of stress and noise in the Catholic High gym.
“I’m surprised that we’re only 2½ points behind,” Hess said. “A couple of guys really stepped up today. Nakie Brown (a 140-pounder) beat the third seed (Cameron Butler of Live Oak) and then went on to beat the next guy, too. Cameron Hyde (at 147) stepped up, too, and made the semifinals.”
Catholic will have a numbers advantage in the championship bracket with 11 semifinalists, while St. Amant will have eight. All the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds are still alive, and most advanced with pins, technical falls or major decisions in their quarterfinal matches.
An exception was in the 222-pound decision, where top-seeded Mason Rabel of Dunham pinned Omari Akebulan of Woodlawn, but the fourth seed, Anthony Ingram of Live Oak, was upset by Devon Clark of East Ascension, and No. 3 Chase Stuckey of Baton Rouge High barely edged Karl Mires of St. Amant 4-2.
In the tightest match of the evening, No. 2 James DeLee of Catholic needed a reversal late in the third round to defeat Silas Simonson of Zachary 8-7.
Denver Dennison, a semifinalist at 172 and one of Catholic’s five co-captains, was watching DeLee’s match.
“It made me kind of nervous, kind of made the hair stand up on my neck,” Dennison said. “We came in knowing we had tough competition in St. Amant. We knew we had to come out strong, and a lot of guys did get first-round pins and second-round pins. They’ve got a really good team, and we have to do whatever it takes to get over the top.
“We’re trying to stay close-knit, pick each other up.”
Central’s Austin Gouedy, a returning champion and No. 1 seed at 108, started his title defense by pinning Brusly’s David Kent in the second round. Kent managed a 2-2 tie after the first round before Gouedy took over and got the pin just before the end of the second.
“I just wrestled my match, tried to wrestle smart and not do anything ignorant,” Gouedy said. “I worked hard and used whatever moves I could to try to set him up (for the pin).”