Things went about as expected at the Louisiana Classics Wrestling Tournament at Baton Rouge Community College on Friday. All the first and second seeds advanced to the semifinals, Brother Martin led the parade into Saturday’s competition with 11 semifinalists, the crowd was large and enthusiastic, and the quality of wrestling was high.
“This is probably the largest crowd we’ve ever had,” Catholic High coach and meet director Tommy Prochaska said, “and it’s the most competitive wrestling we’ve had in about 10 years, in my opinion.
“Brother Martin is running away with the team title, but there are some great individuals here. Some of those quarterfinals matches were fantastic.”
Prochaska was not as positive about his own team’s performance.
“We didn’t do very well today,” he said. “We didn’t stay focused. Matt Mire wrestled well, but he’s our only one in the semis.”
Brother Martin ran up 171 points to 111.5 for second place Holy Cross. Jesuit was in third with 90.5.
Host Catholic had 73 points, while defending state champions Brusly (Division III) had 57 points and Teurlings Catholic (Division II) was tied with Live Oak with 55.
Brother Martin coach Robert Dauterive praised Crusaders’ efforts.
“We had a great day,” he said. “We brought 14 guys, 11 of them are in the semifinals and the others are in consolation.
“We got a lot of pin points, and that’s what we preach.”
“I thought heavyweight (Matt Montalbano) had a good chance against the No. 1 seed, and we had a tough loss to the No. 4 seed at 152.”
Montalbano lost by pin to Mardi Hartin of Madill, Oklahoma, and Johnson lost an overtime match to Jack Fontenot of John Ehret 7-2.
And, as expected, the 132-pound weight division was at the center of attention, with three defending Louisiana state champions and one Oklahoma state runner-up advancing to the semifinals.
“I woke up this morning and read the paper all I saw was ‘132,’ ” said Rio Zamora of Madill. “(Saturday) is going to be exciting. Louisiana wrestlers seem to have more of a strong, tie-up style than we’re used to in Oklahoma. Ask me (Saturday) whether I made the adjustment.”
Zamora will be joined in the 132 semifinals by Paul Klein of Brother Martin (31-0 for the season and an Arizona State signee), Brusly’s Kendon Lee and Teurlings Catholic’s Brock Bonin.
Lee will face Klein in the semifinals and Brusly coach Jimmy Bible said he thinks his sophomore can win.
“He can do it if he wants to,” Bible said. “He lost to him (Klein) once this year, a 2-point loss, and we’d like this one to be on the big stage, but now he has to win to make the finals.”
Tournament founder and current Baton Rouge High coach Bill Bofinger was on hand for his 42nd consecutive Louisiana Classic (formerly the Lee High Invitational) Tournament. Bofinger, who is rebuilding the Baton Rouge High team, brought 12 wrestlers, five of whom advanced to the quarterfinals.
Steven Shields of Brother Martin ran his record to 35-1 in advancing to face Austin Franklin of Brusly in the 115s.
Top-seeds Mason Williams of Brother Martin and Samuel Johnson of Zachary are favored to advance to the finals in the 147s.
Wrestling continues on Saturday at the Bonne Sante Wellness Center on the BRCC campus. Consolation matches start at 9 a.m. and semifinals begin at 10:30, followed by the championship finals at 4 p.m.