Brother Martin’s wrestling team wasn’t quite able to match their five individual champions from last year’s team, but the number that truly cared about Saturday night was four.
The Crusaders wrapped up their fourth consecutive Division I state championship and 17th in school history at the Ponchatrain Center.
“I’m really proud of what our guys have accomplished over these past four years,” Brother Martin coach Robert Dauterive said. “This was a special senior class, and I’m sad to see them go, but there is no denying everything they’ve accomplished over these past few years.
Paul Klein was one of three Crusaders to win individual titles on the night, overcoming an injury midway through his match to win the 132-pound class over Jesuit’s Joey Foret.
Saturday’s win gave Klein his fourth consecutive individual title, and he said that it’s bittersweet to know his career at Brother Martin is over, but he couldn’t think of a better way to end it.
“To start off I was pretty nervous, probably the most nervous I’ve ever been for a match,” Klein said. “My coaches have really pushed me and I wouldn’t have wanted to do this with anybody else.”
The other individual winners for Brother Martin included Steven Shields in the 113-pound weight class over Holy Cross’ Beau Bush. Yehia Riles won his second straight title in the 182-pound class over Fountainbleau’s Brandon Verges.
Despite four Crusaders losing in the championship round, Dauterive said he was especially proud of the fact that some members of the team were forced to wrestle up in class.
“Our kids showed so much resiliency throughout the year wrestling up in class and making it as far as they did is a testament to them,” Dauterive said. “We looked small during a couple of the matches tonight, and I wish a few of our seniors could have went out on a better note, but you can’t help but to be proud of everything these guys have done.”
Holy Cross’ Dylan Soileau, who won the 126-pound class, was one of the Division I tournament-high four Tigers that walked away with individual titles.
He lost in the state title match his freshman year and didn’t make it back during his sophomore and junior seasons. Soileau said his inability to match his freshman season thus far inspired him to finally get it done his senior year.
“I’m just so excited and thankful, it’s been a long journey these past few years,” Soileau said. “I knew this was my last year and I was just really motivated to get back here and walk away with the win. My teammates have really supported me, and I wanted to do it big for them in my last match.”
Other Holy Cross winners included Jake Rando in the 138-pound weight class over St. Paul’s Hunter Bourgeois, Brice Duhe in the 170 class over Brother Martin’s Pierce Williams and George Benoit in the 152-pound class over Matthew Mire of Catholic-Baton Rouge.
Jesuit senior Brody Martin started the night off with a hard-fought victory in a back-and-forth matchup against Rummel’s Blake Mateu in the 106-weight class. Martin credited his family for helping him reach his ultimate goal.
“I just feel like I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my family,” Martin said. “I really can’t thank them enough. Not even just my parents, everyone has been supporting me.
Other Blue Jays winning titles were Ben D’Antonio, who defeated Brother Martin’s Stephen Rumney (120) Dominic Carmello in (285) over Fountainbleau’s Christian Ponson.
Christian Walden gave Airline its only individual title of the night with his upset over Brother Martin’s Mason Williams, the No. seed in the 145-pound weight class.
“It means everything, there’s no feeling like it,” Walden said. “This is everything I’ve been working for. I’m glad it finally paid off.”
Rummel’s Josh Ramirez, who over came a torn meniscus that almost held him out of the state tournament, defeated Brother Martin’s Daniel Evans in the 160-pound weight class to give Rummel their first individual wrestling title in four years.
“I’ve been training every morning and every afternoon to make sure I get here,” the freshman said. “I feel like this is really a big accomplishment for me and my school. I feel so relieved right now, and my teammates do, to know that we finally have a state champ.”
Hahnville’s Kendrick Jones (195) and Fountainbleau’s Ethan Eisenhardt (220) both wrapped up undefeated seasons with individual title wins over Jesuit’s Guy Patron Jr. and Lafayette’s Rodrigo Diaz in each of their respective weight classes.
Jones, who won his second consecutive individual title with Saturday’s win, became the first wrestler to ever accomplish either feat at Hahnville.
The tournament set a new attendance record for the second consecutive year, drawing a crowd of 14,325 over the two days, surpassing last year’s mark of 14,055.