BRUSLY — The more things change, the more they stay the same.
After all the talk of parity and a wide-open scramble for the team championship, it was once again Catholic High finishing on top at the Baton Rouge City Wrestling Tournament at Brusly on Saturday. It was Catholic’s 26th title and 12th in the past 13 years.
Wrestlers from seven schools won individual weight class championships, led by East Ascension and Live Oak with three apiece. The Bears won only two individual crowns but used their depth to rack up 2451/2 points, well ahead of second-place St. Amant at 168. Live Oak edged last year’s champion Brusly 1481/2-1471/2 for third place, and Zachary rounded out the top five with 139 points.
Catholic coach Tommy Prochaska didn’t think last year’s rare second-place finish played a big role in his team’s motivation.
“The guys who were on that team surely had a ‘Let’s bring it back where it belongs’ type of deal, but we really didn’t talk about it very much,” he said.
“I’m very proud of the guys. We put two nice days together, and it’s the first time we’ve done that all year. We had a few hiccups early in the meet and ran into some buzzsaws (in the finals), but we overcame that and that was a good thing.”
Catholic’s two winners were Matthew Mire at 154 pounds and Mitchell Vidrine at 140. Mire dispatched Sage Nugent of St. Amant 12-3 in the final, while Vidrine, who was coming back from an injury he suffered in the Louisiana Classics tournament, scored a reversal in the final 10 seconds to squeak by Joshua Averett of St. Amant 5-4 in the most exciting finish of the day.
Averett had gone up 4-3 with a takedown seconds before Vidrine came back in dramatic fashion.
“It was stressful,” Vidrine said. “It was mostly muscle memory. We’ve practiced that a lot, so I just had faith in my abilities and happened to hit it at the right time.
“I figured it would be close, but I didn’t want it to be that close.”
East Ascension’s Landon Wheat recorded the first victory over a No. 1 seed in the finals when he broke open a tight match in the second round and went on to top Dominic Dewey of Catholic, 10-3.
His teammate Jacob Bernard followed with an 18-6 major decision over Joshua Matthews of Catholic.
Austin Guedry picked up EAHS’ third win when he managed a third-round escape, then survived a takedown call that was reversed with no time remaining to edge Kennan Tate of Zachary 3-2 at 197.
The unseeded Tate made it into the final with a semifinal win over top-seeded Jimmy Do of Baton Rouge High who decisioned Yoni Canales of Redemptorist for third place.
Baton Rouge High’s other No. 1 seed, Thomas Stremlau, dropped his final match to Luther Jones of Dutchtown 9-5.
Coaches voted Brandon Cowell of Dutchtown (145) and Koby Mancuso of Brusly (162) as the Outstanding Wrestlers. Cowell took advantage of his one scoring opportunity against an elusive Sam Johnson of Zachary with a late reversal for a 2-0 win, and Mancuso recorded a 14-5 major decision over Jarrett Moss of Baton Rouge High.
Live Oak’s three winners were Brody Bonura (184), who pinned Tyler Ventress of McKinley at the buzzer of the second round; Nick Simeneaux (222) who outlasted Dunham’s Mason Rabel 4-3; and Colt Olinde (115), who picked up his 52nd win of the year by beating Cameron Carpenter of Catholic 12-4.
“I’m really proud of my guys,” Live Oak coach Chris Collier said, “not just my seniors who won championships, but with the skeleton crew we had because of injuries, a lot of guys stepped up and performed well.”
Dunham’s Kirk Wilson at 287 put an exclamation mark on the day’s finals with the third pin of the day, stopping Aaron Wiltz of Catholic in 1:12.
“He was tough, but I reversed him and got on top,” Wilson said. “Then I just had to elevate my arms and use my weight and I knew I had him.”
Austin Gouedy of Central took down Jerimiah Johnson of McKinley in 1:42 to open the finals at 108.