Going into the Louisiana Classic, Catholic High wrestling coach Tommy Prochaska called Brother Martin the team to beat.
The Crusaders backed up the hype Friday night, leading the field after Day 1 of the two-day tournament held at ExerFit in Baton Rouge with 156 points. Jesuit trailed with 120.5 points, followed closely by Catholic of Baton Rouge with 120 points.
“My team is doing what they’re supposed to do,” Brother Martin coach Robbie Dauterive said.
Holy Cross (83.5 points), St. Paul’s (81), Rummel (71), Comeaux (69), East Ascension (61.5), Tuerlings Catholic (61.5) and Hoover High of Alabama (57) rounded out the top 10 heading in the semifinal round.
Of the 463 wrestlers from 54 teams featured in the Louisiana Classic, Brother Martin earned the top seed in five of the 14 weight classes. What normally seems like an advantage was actually a setback, Dauterive said.
“We don’t want first-round byes,” he said. “The top seeds in this (tournament) have byes, and we happen to be seeded high, and it cost us points. We had five byes in the first round, so that’s 10 bonus points we missed out on, so we know we have to make up those bonus points.”
Despite the hindrance, Brother Martin still led the tournament throughout Day 1, winning all of its first-round matchups before suffering its first defeat in the second round. Catholic followed, winning every match in Round 1, but dropping four decisions in the second round.
“Of the matches I’ve seen, we’re wrestling pretty well,” said Catholic coach and meet coordinator Tommy Prochaska. “The kids are listening and engaged in what they’re doing. It’s a long day, long tournament, and we’ve just got to continue to battle. We lost a couple matches that I didn’t think we should have lost, but that’s part of it.”
The biggest upset through the early part of Day 1 occurred in the 147-pound weight class, as top-seeded Parkview Baptist senior Cody Thomas was taken down by North Vermilion junior Colin Laird in a 6-1 decision.
While the upsets were few in the early going, Prochaska said he expects more shake-ups in the third round of the tournament as wrestlers begin to tire and worry about cutting weight for Day 2 of the tournament.
Prochaska hopes to avoid any letdowns from his team late on the first day, giving his guys a simple message heading into their final match of the first day.
“Don’t worry about tomorrow’s weigh-in. Just stay focused,” Prochaska said. “Sometimes we break it down to just winning the first period just to get them going and get through it. It’s like in any sport, you’ve just got to stay focused on what you’re doing.”
Prochaska said a technical error set the tournament back about 35 minutes Friday night, but they still managed to get through the quarterfinals.
Day 2 of the tournament is slated to resume at 9 a.m. Saturday, with the finals set for 4 p.m.
“I’ll probably see seven matches all week that I coach,” Prochaska joked of his busy schedule for the weekend. “To me, I just want to run a good tournament. I don’t even worry about where my guys are (in the brackets), we’ve just got to wrestle. This meet is just about running a good tournament and great competition.”