KENNER — It was a night for the state’s oldest high school wrestling program to again stand tall.
The same went for one of the youngest.
And the smallest.
Holy Cross claimed its third state title in five years, winning the Division II championship at the Pontchartrain Center Saturday and continuing a legacy begun by Father Melchior Polowy, who founded Louisiana’s first prep program in 1945 and coached the Tigers to 22 titles in the next 23 years.
The Tigers sent nine wrestlers to championship matches and although they won only one, it was still enough for them to claim the trophy named for Brother Melchior.
“That’s the one every coach in the state wants to win at least once,” Holy Cross coach Eric DesOrmeaux said. “It’s a big part of who we are at Holy Cross.”
Live Oak, in only its sixth year, finished third behind Holy Cross and Teurlings Catholic and claimed three individual titles, including a repeat by Cody Hill (126 pounds), who last year became the Eagles’ first titlist. That was two more than the team champ.
Hill, who prevailed at 120 pounds last year as a sophomore, was named the outstnanding D-II wrestler.
“There’s going to be a lot more after me,” he said.“It just shows you what’s possible when you work hard.”
Meanwhile, Jorge Sanchez Jr., the only member of the Helen Cox team, took the 132-pound championship, denying Holy Cross with his 5-4 victory against Nick Bonck.
“The only limitations you have are in your own mind,” said Sanchez, who trains with wrestlers from Thomas Jefferson and Fisher to have someone to practice against. “I’ve gone through a lot of ups and downs, but I never lost my drive and determination.
“Tonight was worth it.”
Sanchez was one of the most popular winners in any category.
But the real spotlight fell to Holy Cross.
The Tigers, who finished second to Teurlings last year, came into the meet expected to win, and except for losing 113-pound top seed Dylan Solieau because he didn’t make weight, didn’t disappoint with a strong showing on Friday and had the team title well in hand going into Saturday’s finals.
“It’s great because our guys didn’t have to go out and worry about anything but their own matches,” DesOrmeaux said. “We told them to relax and enjoy the experience no matter what happens.
“And every kid but one who made the finals and lost will be back next year, so they have that to build on.”
The one champion Holy Cross did have was Alex Nicosia, who repeated at 120 pounds by downing Tristan Lee of Teurlings in his title match 7-2.
Besides Hill, Live Oak got individual titles by Jacob Chenevert at 113 pounds and Seth Bosarge at 138.
Chenevert, a junior, overcame a bleeding broken nose to hold off Andrew Aucoin of Sam Houston 8-7. Bosarge’s victory came against top-seeded George Benoit of Holy Cross 3-2.
For Holy Cross, Saturday’s title was the last in Division II.
The Tigers will be playing up in Division I next year, going against Catholic League rivals Brother Martin, Jesuit and Shaw.
“We wrestle against them all year as it,” DesOrmeaux said. “Only next year, it’ll count.”
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