Area wrestling fans will be able to see some of the best high school teams in northern Louisiana at the inaugural parish-wide wrestling tournament scheduled to get underway at 9 a.m.Saturday at Bossier High School.
In the past, Bossier, Airline and Parkway competed in a citywide tournament but this year the coaches at the three schools invited Benton and Haughton to compete.
Airline won the 14-team Northwest Regional wrestling tournament last weekend at Lakeside High School in Sibley, leading a top-four sweep by Bossier Parish teams.
“There’s a lot of very good wrestling talent in the parish, as shown this past weekend,” said Bossier Coach Bo Shelton. “It should be highly competitive and pretty close for the teams. We should be able to compete against anyone we go up against.”
Although Airline won the regional tournament, Benton was a scant 12.5 points behind and was followed by Bossier and Parkway. The Vikings have strength up and down the weight classifications and some coaches consider them the favorite.
But, unlike the regional tournament that used a bracket, the parish-wide tournament will consist of a series of dual matches among the five participating schools.
“Every school will wrestle every other school,” Shelton said.
Airline’s Christian Walden (126) and Tony Lococo (132) won their respective classifications last weekend and are rated No. 4 in the state. Javarius “JuJu” Jones (113) and Harrison Hooper (170), both of whom are ranked No. 7 in the state, also won their respective classifications at the regional tournament.
“We seem to find success when we do the little things right,” said Airline Coach Joey Burton.”Things don’t go our way when we don’t take care of the little things.”
The results from the regional tournament, he said, won’t necessarily translate into the results at the parish-wide tournament. He noted the scoring format change and pointed out that a favorite individual wrestler losing a match would be a substantial point swing.
Top Benton performers from the regional tournament include Tre’ Pugh, runner-up in the 145 pound class, regional champion Andre’ Dean (152), regional runner-up Jeff Lewis (138),and regional runner-up Jordan White (160).
Parkway Coach Emmett Beggs said he is hoping to get some wrestlers back in the lineup from illness and injuries, including Jason Pitts (120).
Shelton said his team’s strength is at the top of the lineup in the 152 pound and higher classifications.
“Your strength is where your experience is, and the top of the lineup is where our experience is,” Shelton said. “But our guys in the bottom are coming along.”
Bossier’s Jalen Oliver (182) was a state champion in 2013 and won his classification last weekend, while Avery Jones (152) was regional runner-up.
Haughton’s top individual finisher last weekend was Brandon Tolliver, who finished third in the 182 pound class.
Coaches say they like the expanded tournament, with Burton noting the net effect is a more prestigious tournament.
“Haughton and Benton are not far away,” Shelton said. “It wasn’t smart to exclude them. It will be a lot more competitive now.”