After a long, grueling season, some high school wrestling teams would be tempted to take an extra weekend off before the state tournament.
But in the Baton Rouge area, the desire to compete in the Greater Baton Rouge City Wrestling Championship overshadows just about everything else.
“In some parts of the state, city championships are dying off or are already gone,” Catholic High coach Tommy Prochaska said. “We keep going, and I think the reason why is that this meet means a lot to all the teams in this area. It’s a last meet before the state meet, and it gives everybody one last test. The competition is good. Being a city champion means something to our guys. So it’s important for us to do a good job hosting this one.”
A total of 20 schools are scheduled to compete, starting at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Catholic High. Action resumes at 8:30 a.m. Saturday with finals set for about 3 p.m.
It is the first time Catholic has hosted the meet since 2004-05. The Division I Bears have won the past 10 Greater BR titles. Division I East Ascension High, Division II Live Oak High and Division III power Brusly High figure to be the Bears top challengers. EAHS will be without competitors in two weight classes this week because of injuries.
Two top competitors have their sights set on city titles. The two-day meet is the final regular season meet before the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s State Wrestling Tournament set for Feb. 15-16.
Catholic’s Brandon Luckett, competing in the 160-pound weight class, seeks his third city title and is a No. 1 seed. Live Oak’s Cody Hill, the top seed at 126, is looking to claim a second city crown.
Brusly, Live Oak and Catholic each have three top-seeded competitors.
Mitch Napoli (113), James Claitor (138) and Luckett are Catholic’s top seeds. Wyatt Lejeune (120), Trevor Schermer (132) and Koby Mancuso (152) are Brusly’s No. 1 seeds. Joining Hill as top seeds for Live Oak are Brady Bonura (170) and Blake Brock (195).
Prochaska said the depth in some weight classes might not be quite as solid as in past years. But with bragging rights and the chance to notch more wins, no teams or competitors will complain.
“Some of these matchups you see could be like the ones guys will see at the state tournament,” Prochaska said. “Others will be tougher than that.
“What happens this weekend could make a difference in how some guys are seeded for state. They’ll all be ready to compete.”