Brusly has won 11 of the past 12 Division III state titles in wrestling, including four in a row. The Panthers have a new role going into the 2016 Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA State Wrestling tournament — underdog.
The major role reversal and a new host site for the two-day tournament at Bossier City’s CenturyLink Center are just two of the story lines as teams head north for the LHSAA’s first winter championship event.
“We’ve been bruised and beat up, and we’ll be taking 10 guys,” Brusly coach Jimmy Bible said. “It was tough with some of the injuries we had, but now we’ve got guys back and moved them around a little to difference weights.
“It won’t be like some of the years we’ve had. But if we wrestle well and score where we can we’ve got a chance to bring home a trophy. That’s something to shoot for.”
Competition begins at 9 a.m. Friday for the early rounds. The tourney resumes at 8 a.m. Saturday with finals set for 6:30 p.m.
Brusly’s underdog role puts the Panthers in line with the area’s other top teams. Defending champion Brother Martin is again the favorite in Division I. Catholic High and St. Amant are among the teams battling for a top-five finish.
Division II figures to be a battleground for Rummel and defending champion Teurlings Catholic. Once again, Live Oak is among the teams with a shot at a possible top-three finish. The Eagles could be a runner-up if things fall just right.
De La Salle is the favorite in Division III. South Plaquemines, North Vermilion and Brusly are the top contenders for the runner-up trophy.
Catholic High coach Tommy Prochaska said the typical Division I chess match between the top teams could be quite interesting.
“Brother Martin is the favorite, and I definitely think it is theirs to win,” Prochaska said. “But based on the seedings it may be closer than it has been. Brother Martin only has two top seeds.
“You’ve got Jesuit and Holy Cross that most people know about. And then you also have Comeaux, a team that’s had a fantastic year. St. Amant has a top seed, and we have a number of guys seeded in the top 10. You never know how it’s going to work out.”
One crucial point will be the premeet weigh-ins Friday morning. Prochaska said he expects some wrestlers not to make their weight, which would shuffle the seedings.
St. Amant and Catholic enter the tourney with one top seed. KJ Wilson of Catholic is seeded first at 285 pounds, while the Gators’ Sage Nugent is No. 1 at 170.
Division II has a different dynamic with Rummel dropping down from Division I and assuming the favorite’s role.
“Rummel is very good, and I can see why people consider them to be the favorite,” Live Oak coach Chris Collier said. “But I wouldn’t count Teurlings out until they give out that trophy on Saturday night.
“It’s the same with us. This has been a very frustrating season because we’ve had nagging injuries. But now we’re finally healthy, and we’ve got a lot of guys seeded, including some who have the chance to move up into the top six.”
Shaw and Parkway also will be among the teams to watch, Collier said.
Ethan Alphonso at 132 pounds is the lone top seed for the Eagles, who have six wrestlers seeded either second or third.
Brusly enters the Division III competition with three top seeds: Austin Franklin at 138, Richard Hunter at 160 and Brandon Young at 195. The Dunham School’s Mason Rabel at 220 and Episcopal’s Ellis Herring at 182 also are No. 1 seeds. De La Salle has a number of top five seeds, including two top seeds.
“We wrestled well at the City tournament,” Bible said. “We just need to put it all together and we’ve got one meet left to do it in.”