The MacArthur High School wrestling team wrapped up its holiday trip from Lawton, Okla., to Baton Rouge by defeating two Louisiana wrestling powers to win the fourth annual Louisiana National Guard Deep South Bayou Duals Tournament at the River Center on Saturday.
The Highlanders had their closest match of the tournament against Brother Martin in a 34-24 win in the semifinals, then dispatched Catholic High 41-12 for the championship.
They began their title march on Friday with four straight shutouts in pool play while compiling 326 points in wins over Sam Houston, Teurlings, Brusly and Arlington.
“I’ve never experienced that day in my whole coaching career — over 30 years,” said MacArthur coach Ellis Holt, whose team is currently ranked second among Oklahoma 5A schools. “As a group, they were all on. Some of them were wrestling over their heads.”
The Highlanders began Saturday by polishing off sixth-place Platte County, Mo., 52-9 before moving to the semifinals against Brother Martin.
“My team was put through the fire,” Holt said. “These Louisiana kids are tough wrestlers. Brother Martin and Catholic High were both real tough.”
Led by the tournament’s most valuable wrestler in the upper weight classes, Ricky McCarty (160) and 145-pounder Colton Jump, who recorded major decisions over Patrick Hoppe of Brother Martin and Reid Burns of Catholic, the Highlanders dominated the middle weight classes in their last two matches.
“I just keep wrestling and never give up,” said Jump, who has only one loss on the season.
Other double winners were Colby Powers (132), Brock Williams (138), Garrett Shaw (220), Briar Adams (106), Cole Powers (120) and Adrian Gaines (126).
Catholic won four of their 14 matches against MacArthur. After the Highlanders won the first three matches, Kevin Moran scored a takedown in the final seconds of the third round to defeat Blake Handley 8-6 for the Bears’ first win.
“I think I was in better shape and maybe pushed harder than he did,” Moran said. “All three of my matches today came down to the last seconds, and I won them all. I would like to compete harder and compete better.”
Moran wasn’t pleased with the Bears’ second-place finish.
“Naturally, we’d like to place first,” he said. “We’ve got some work to do.”
Catholic High advanced to the final with an unusual win over Division I rival Jesuit of New Orleans. The teams fought to a 26-26 tie, and according to the rules, the tie was broken by certain criteria, in this case a one-point team misconduct penalty the Blue Jays had been assessed in an earlier match.
“It was a barnburner, and we were fortunate to win that, but we just couldn’t follow up the energy and excitement for the finals round,” Catholic coach Tommy Prochaska said.
“That’s a great team (MacArthur) we just wrestled. I thought we had some chances early, but we just couldn’t get it done. I’m proud of my guys, but we could have done better. We just couldn’t get anything going today.”
Other Catholic winners were Christian Pittman (182), a 6-4 winner over Javi Laboy, Caleb Sutton (195), a 7-3 winner over Derek Block, and Everett Knox (285), who registered a 6-2 decision over Joseph Pollard. Three of Catholic’s losses were by a single point. Matthew Mire lost 2-1 to Powers, James Claitor lost 8-7 to Williams, and Napoli fell to Reed Piatt 5-4 at 113.
Brusly hosted the tournament which attracted 44 teams from nine states, including one team, Phoenix High, from New York. The New Yorkers went 4-0 in Friday’s pool play and advanced to the quarterfinals where they dropped a close 36-33 decision to Jesuit.
Nicholas Tighe (138) of Phoenix was selected the most outstanding lower weights class wrestler.
“This is our fourth year and the best one yet. The first two years we had 20 teams, but it kind of ballooned from there,” Brusly coach Jimmy Bible said.
“This (the River Center) is our best venue yet with nothing but compliments from everyone. The city of Baton Rouge came through, and right here we’ve got the best wrestling competition in the South.”
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