If any program in recent history knows what it takes to win a state wrestling crown, it’s the Teurlings Catholic Rebels.
And yet, coach Brad Macha found out the hard way last season that you can’t take anything for granted.
“Last year’s team was a very accomplished, very seasoned group,” Macha said. “I was extremely confident in that group, but it just didn’t happen.”
Consequently, Macha said he is preaching the finer points of the program’s championship formula “since Feb. 21 last year.”
He’s hoping the result is an eighth Division II state wrestling championship at the Century-Link Center this weekend in Bossier City after settling for a runner-up finish last season.
Macha even added a bit of motivation. During the last week, the Rebels’ six seniors had to spend a night with last year’s state runner-up trophy by their bed … just as a reminder of how second place felt last year.
“Certainly, I like our chances, but it’s not going to be easy,” Macha said. “Every match counts.”
Essentially, that’s the secret to Teurlings’ success over the past 13 years, convincing every wrestler that every match counts even if that individual’s hopes for winning a state title is over.
The Rebels’ chances appear really good considering Macha’s got a seeded wrestler in all 14 weight divisions. The top contenders are: No. 1 Ethan Boudreaux (42-4) at 106, No. 1 Matthew Carrier (39-2) at 126, No. 1 Charles Travasos (20-4) at 160, No. 2 Vaughn Romero (35-3) at 170 and No. 2 David Bernard (30-3) at 182.
The Rebels’ biggest competition figures to be North DeSoto, which is a relative unknown because it wrestles out of state often during the regular season. For example, Teurlings only has two head-to-heads with North DeSoto all season with a 1-1 outcome.
Other top Division II contenders include Shaw, Rayne, Carencro and Rummel.
Macha is hoping relative unknown No. 2 Ivan Hale at 152 can be an ace in the hole.
Rayne is certainly hoping to make a big splash this season after settling for a seventh-place finish last season.
Coach Shelby Thibodeaux said the Wolves will fill all 14 weight divisions for the first time.
“My goal and I think it’s a realistic goal is to finish in the top three,” Thibodeaux said. “We didn’t have a great state tournament last year, but we have a chance to win matches at every weight class this year, so I’m hoping for a top-three finish.”
Rayne has two No. 1 seeds in Ryder Hawley (35-6) at 145 and Miles Doucet (23-4) at 220. Hawley hasn’t met the two seeds below him, while Doucet is 1-1 this season against No. 2 Zavione Willis of Carencro.
“That match would be fun to watch,” Thibodeaux said.
Rayne also has three sophomores seeded in the top four — Jakarion Fontenot at 106, Daylon Dugas at No. 3 at 113 and Blaze Cormier at No. 3 at 120.
“On paper, North DeSoto was the favorite at the beginning of the season, but I feel like Teurlings has kind of caught up with them.”
Carencro enjoyed two individual state champions a year ago in Taylor Clay and Kendrell Williams with only eight wrestlers. This year, coach Derrick Franchak will bring 14 with hopes for at least a top-five finish.
“I think it’s realistic that we could get three or four in the finals,” Franchak said. “Last year, we brought eight kids to state and seven of them placed. This year, we have 14. Now some of those kids are freshman, but at least there’s a chance. You have no chance at any points if you don’t have a kid at all (in a weight class). For some of them, if they can just win one match, it would help.”
Carencro’s top hopes are No. 3-seeded Tyrick Clay (33-7) at 132, No. 1 Kendrell Williams (9-0) at 182 and No. 2 Willis at 220.
Franchak also holds out hope for No. 4 heavyweight Trenton Jolivette (26-10).
“In my mind, I think we’ve made enough progress where we should be in the top five,” he said, “but I’m not ruling out the top three.”
In Division I, Comeaux aren’t as deep as normal with only three seeded wrestlers.
The Spartans’ best chance to reach the finals is No. 2-seeded Donald Paul (37-1) at 285.
Despite not placing last season, Comeaux coach Keith Bergeron isn’t shocked by Paul’s dynamic senior season.
“I thought it would be possible,” Bergeron said. “He had a good year last year. He should have placed last year. It just didn’t work out. He had a lot of seniors in his weight class last year.
“He got a lot stronger. His technique has always been pretty good. Just getting more varsity time. He was really playing catch-up most of last year because of (labrum) surgery his sophomore year.”
Paul was undefeated in a dual against Sulphur.
“He took him down and had him in control, but then made a mistake,” Bergeron said. “Against big guys, you have to keep a lot of pressure or he can roll you.”
Reed Bergeron (34-7) is the No. 3 seed at 120, despite losing four weeks with a high ankle sprain.
Sophomore Avery Porche (29-13) is a dark horse at 132.