Wrestling with why there’s wrestling in Bossier City

So, tell me again why high school teams, parents and students have to drive 352 miles to Bossier City for the state wrestling tournament when the great majority of team and individual champions are from New Orleans?

That’s not 352 miles as the crow flies, but 352 miles as the interstate winds.

Once again, two local Catholic schools – Holy Cross and De La Salle – have won division team championship trophies.

Schools from the Archdiocese of New Orleans also have accounted for 18 individual champions in various weight classes.

The top four finishers in Division I team competition were Holy Cross, Jesuit, Brother Martin and St. Paul’s. Airline High of the host city finished fifth, hardly justification for forcing thousands of south Louisiana fans to make the five-hour trip for the two-day meet last weekend. A tour of Gilligan’s Island only takes three hours.

Archbishop Rummel finished second to Teurlings Catholic of Lafayette in Division II, and De La Salle repeated its 2016 feat of winning the Division III championship.

North Caddo from the northwest corner of the state placed ninth in Division II, and Evangel (Shreveport) tied Episcopal of Baton Rouge for 30th place in Division III.

What ever happened to taking the event to the people instead of forcing a mass exodus up I-10 to I-49 to I-20?

The dilemma is that the Pontchartrain Center, the former home of the tournament, is one of the few venues that has the floor space to accommodate multiple mats for preliminary matches. But the seating capacity of the Kenner
facility is no longer capable of handling the enthusiastically attended event. There is no fire marshal that would allow the overflow crowd to enter.

Unfortunately, none of the other large arenas in the state have bothered to bid on the popular tournament. So CenturyLink in Bossier City was the winner.

But the two-year contract has expired, so the event will be up for bids for 2018 and 2019 on April 1, and that’s no April Fool’s joke.

Although the crowd count was down by more than 2,269 attendees (from 13,342 in 2016 to 11,073 on Feb. 10-11), the event was again a showcase for local Catholic school talent.

Holy Cross’ title was the school’s first since 1988 and 28th overall. The Tigers’ 145-pound champion, Jake Rando, was named the Division I Outstanding Wrestler.

De La Salle won its second consecutive Division III team title to end a decade-long run by Brusly as champion of the smaller schools’ division.

Ron Brocato can be reached at rbrocato@clarionherald.org.

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