The venue is changing, but Brother Martin is hoping to make sure the results stay the same.
The Crusaders will go for their fifth consecutive state championship at the LHSAA wrestling state championships to be held in Bossier City’s CenturyLink Center on Friday and Saturday.
“The past few years I could just walk to the Pontchartrain Center, so it will definitely be a different experience,” Crusaders junior Steven Shields said. “I’m excited to wrestle there.”
Brother Martin is going for its 17th state championship and eighth under coach Robert Dauterive.
Dauterive likes his team’s chances.
“We are really confident,” Dauterive said. “We put everything this year to wrestle our best this time of year. Last year I think we wrestled our best about a month before the state championships. We were a little disappointed when we left the state tournament last year that we hadn’t wrestled better.”
Brother Martin enters as the favorite again. The Crusaders are undefeated against in-state opponents this season. The two losses came in the finals of the Bayou Duals in Baton Rouge and the Prep Slam in Atlanta. The losses were close, including the Prep Slam defeat to Lake Highland (Florida), ranked No. 9 nationally at the time.
Not bad for a team that lost seven seniors off last year’s team.
“That was definitely a good group,” Dauterive said. “It took a little longer for this group of seniors to come together.”
But once again, the Crusaders are senior-laden. There are 11 who will be competing in the championships.
Twelve of the Crusaders are top four seeds and another is seeded fifth.
“We are looking all them to place in the top three in the tournament,” Dauterive said.
The tournament is especially big for Shields, a junior who is going for his third straight individual title.
Shields won in the 106-weight class as a freshman and 113 as a sophomore. He’s wrestling in the 120 weight class this season.
“There’s pressure, but I deal with the pressure well,” Shields said.
Shields is Brother Martin’s lone returning individual state champion from last year’s team.
Senior Stephen Rumney, a No. 3 seed in the 126 class, is looking to win his first state title after finishing as a runner-up last season.
It’s the deepest classification in the field.
Dauterive said he expects St. Paul’s and Jesuit to be his team’s stiffest competition as it looks to bring yet another state championship trophy to Elysian Fields.
He admitted he would rather not have to travel so far to try to get it, but that’s the case after the LHSAA decided to move the wrestling state championships from Kenner to north Louisiana.
“We are definitely disappointed that it’s not in New Orleans or Baton Rouge,” Dauterive said. “We feel like Baton Rouge is more centrally located. I know the vast amount of alumni wrestlers are disappointed also. I think it was a mistake, but we’ll do our best to make sure it’s a good tournament.”
Rummel and Teurlings Catholic are the favorites in Division II, while De La Salle, Brusly and North Vermillion are the favorites in Division III.