The tears that flowed freely among teammates were part of a poignant moment that framed Teurlings Catholic’s latest crowning achievement.
They represented the sheer joy of a program that had captured its third consecutive LHSAA Division II state wrestling championship, fending off a worthy group of competitors to win the school’s fifth such trophy in six years.
“It’s one of the best feelings,” Teurlings senior Brock Bonin, who capped his career with a fourth straight state title. “You see all the work you’ve done come out into one place.”
Before they went to receive the state championship trophy, it had been suggested the day before that when the Rebels won seniors Ryan Stewart and Jake Dartez would lead the team to the victory stand and hold the trophy for the team picture.
Stewart, who missed the last two months of the season with a knee injury, and Dartez, who suffered a concussion, were front and center to embody Teurlings’ close-knit team that bonded at the most opportune time.
“They deserved being able to hold the trophy,” Teurlings senior Luke Kilchrist, a third-place finisher at 132 pounds. “They couldn’t compete, but we had the utmost respect for them sticking with us.”
With 10 of its 14 wrestlers garnering top-five finishes, including state titles from Bonin at 138 pounds, Trey Hebert at 160 and Kynan Sonnier at 195, Teurlings accumulated 261 points to ‘three-peat.’
The Rebels outdistanced Live Oak (237), Rummel (220), Shaw (212) and Rayne (188).
“It was relieving, very satisfying,” Hebert said. “We were motivated. It was very exciting.”
The architect of Teurlings’ budding dynasty, 13th-year coach Kent Masson, said his team’s road to the championship was anything but conventional and in some ways more challenging.
Teurlings’ season got a late start because the football team reached the Division II state semifinals, pushing the start of wrestling back three weeks to the first week of December.
That contributed to a slower-than-usual development for a team with regular-season expectations of top-three finishes and placing as many wrestlers as possible.
Then a warning shot was sounded after the Rebels, with title aspirations, were third at the Lafayette Parish Dual Meet.
“We felt we needed to start to pick it up in practice and get them more focused on the job at hand,” said Masson, who is assisted by Brad Macha, Kirby Lee, Mark Carrier and Travis Thibodeaux. “We had to unify them as quick as possible being a month away from the state tournament. We weren’t ready for it.”
Injuries to Stewart and Dartez ensued, forcing Masson into a juggling act with his lineup, a move made easier because of his team’s extensive depth.
Masson moved Lee Schwarzenbach from 170 to 182 pounds, Blake McKee took over at 170. Hebert, who wrestled at 152, moved up to 160 and Bryant Masson filled in at 152.
“We’re usually at our top around Ken Cole and the Metro tournaments,” Bonin said. “We still weren’t quite there this year, but for some reason we wound up showing up for state. Everybody stepped up at the end.”
With 11 seeded wrestlers, led by No. 1 seeds in Bonin, Colten Sonnier and Kynan Sonnier, Teurlings matched Rummel by advancing eight wrestlers to the semifinals to enhance its scoring potential.
Bonin (36-4) enjoyed a memorable final state tournament, not only winning his fourth successive title in which he failed to yield a point but was named Division II’s Outstanding Wrestler.
Kynan Sonnier (47-5) won his 194-pound title with a second-round pin, and Hebert (19-4) won his 160-pound match with a 5-0 decision despite weighing in at 150 pounds.
Colten Sonnier was the runner-up at 106 with Kilchrist and Dane Langley each delivering third places at 132 and 113 pounds and Brett Schneider a fourth place at 120.
“We did struggle a lot this year,” Kilchrist said. “Some of the guys had their doubts, so I think it made it that much better; that much sweeter of a win. It was really emotional.”