Winning a state championship is always the ultimate goal. But for Louisiana’s high school wrestling teams the Louisiana Classic is like the Super Bowl.
The 54-team tournament begins at 3 p.m. Friday at Baton Rouge’s ExerFit and will feature 463 wrestlers. The two-day event resumes at 9 a.m. Saturday, with finals set for 4 p.m.
“It’s always a big tournament, but I think this may be the biggest it’s been in a couple of years,” Catholic coach and meet coordinator Tommy Prochaska said.
“We have 32-man brackets in every weight class. And in some weight classes we have up to 40 kids entered, so we’re going to have to set up some pig-tail matches just to get everybody in.”
The annual tournament previously known as the Lee High Invitational will showcase virtually all of Louisiana’s top teams and competitors, along with a three out-of-state teams, Alabama-based Hoover High, Mississippi’s Ocean Springs High and Centreville Academy of Centreville, Miss.
Helping lead the New Orleans contingent is defending Division I state champion Brother Martin. Host Catholic was the runner-up a year ago and another New Orleans power, Jesuit.
The Louisiana Classic is not just about Division I teams. Lafayette’s Teurlings Catholic, the defending Division II champion, is also part of the field along with New Orleans-based Holy Cross and a Baton Rouge area team, Live Oak.
Brusly, winner of the eight of the past nine Division III titles, is also part of the field.
“I think Brother Martin has to be the favorite,” Prochaska said. “Some teams have changed their lineups since early in the season. You have guys who have come back from injuries and others who are still out.
“With so many lineup changes, it was more of challenge to do the seeding. You’ve got the potential for great competition before you get to the finals.”
Prochaska pointed to the 122-pound weight class that features Brother Martin’s Paul Klein (31-5) and defending champion Jacob Dale of Comeaux-Lafayette. Dale was the state champion in the weight class last season and Klein moved up after winning a state title at a lower weight class a year ago. Klein (31-5) has not lost to a Louisiana opponent and has beaten Dale once.
Comeaux’s Tyrek Malveaux (27-0) tops the 154-pound division.
Baton Rouge competitors who garnered No. 1 seeds were Denham Springs’ Christopher Marson (19-0) at 108, Live Oak’s Cody Hill (47-2) at 128, Catholic High’s Brandon Luckett (40-3) at 162.
Other New Orleans competitors claiming No. 1 seeds were Jesuit’s Mitch Capella (31-2) at 115, St. Paul’s Connor Campo (33-0) at 134, Jesuit’s Manny Armour (33-2) at 195 and the Brother Martin group of Dominic Casadaban (18-0) at 140, Daniel Albrecht (33-4) at 172, Kyle Delaune (40-1) at 184 and Ross Brister (39-3) at 287.