A month ago, neither Chris Collier or Jimmy Bible knew it was possible.
The two wrestling coaches watched their teams do what few expected — claim runner-up trophies at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA State Wrestling tournament in Bossier City last weekend.
Division II Live Oak and Division III Brusly brought home runner-up trophies from the tournament at the CenturyLink Center.
“I can’t say enough about our guys,” Brusly’s Bible said. “We started off with a team of 22 and by the end of the year it was 12. They did everything we asked of them.
“We had eight guys who scored and three who won championships. If a couple of things had fallen a different way, we could have finished first.
“We didn’t win it, but this is big for us. It’s really like a fresh start for the program.”
The finish for Brusly probably didn’t surprise most people because the Panthers had won 12 of the past 13 Division III titles, including the previous four in a row.
It was a different story in Division II for Live Oak, which recorded the school’s first runner-up finish.
“We’ve come close a couple of times before,” Collier said. “If you asked me if we had a chance to finish in the top four, let alone the top two, just a few weeks ago I probably would have said there was no way.
“We battled all year. We got healthy at the right time and had a number of guys who performed really well. The key was that just about every guy we brought to the tournament finished higher than they were seeded.”
Teurlings Catholic won the Division II title with 261½ points, while LOHS was at 237, finishing 17 points ahead of one of the pretourney favorites, Rummel.
Ean Hill won the 126-pound weight class for the Eagles, while Ethan Alphonso was the 138 champion. Brennan Webb at 145 was a Division II runner-up.
“A lot of coaches, people like Tommy Prochaska (Catholic) and Jimmy Bible (Brusly) have always said championships are won on the wrestlebacks before the finals begin,” Collier said. “I’m a firm believer in that now, too.
“We had one guy, Bailey Hebert, at 106 pounds who won six matches, and he wasn’t seeded. Most of our other guys were 3-2 and finished in the top four or just outside the top four, meaning they scored points for us in the wrestlebacks.”
De La Salle won the Division III title with 2141/2.5 points. Brusly was next at 1941/2. The Panthers had three individual champions: Austin Franklin at 138, Richard Hunter at 160 and Owen Mabile at 170. David Kent (106) and Brandon Young (195) were runner-up finishers. Kyle Cascio, at 152, was the lone senior for the Panthers.
“This year was about determination,” Bible said. “De La Salle was solid. These guys never gave up.”