High school wrestling: Parkway’s Keeler, Airline’s Perry win state titles; Parkway fifth in Division I debut

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Parkway senior Joshua Keeler and Airline freshman Ernie Perry III won state championships Saturday night in the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Wrestling State Tournament at the CenturyLink Center. 

Keeler, the No. 1 seed, won a 7-1 decision over No. 2 Ethan Castex of New Orleans Brother Martin in the 126-pound weight class finals.

Perry, the No. 1 seed, pinned No. 2 Jacob Houser of Covington St. Paul’s in the first round of the 106-pound class championship match which ended very quickly.

After winning back-to-back Division II state championships, Parkway had an outstanding debut in Division I. The Panthers finished fifth behind four traditional Southeast Louisiana powers.

Brother Martin won its third straight state championship and eighth in the last nine years, but it was close. The Crusaders scored 242 points to 236.5 for runner-up Covington St. Paul’s. Baton Rouge Catholic was third with 209 and New Orleans Holy Cross fourth with 208.

Parkway scored 158, the highest among Division I public schools.

Parkway’s Kaleb Garcia finished runner-up in the 182-pound class. David Viers and Jacob Chittom also had outstanding tournaments, posting third-place finishes in the 106-pound and 152-pound classes, respectively.

Terrence Murray also made the awards stand with a fifth-place finish in the 170-pound class.

Benton had two third-place finishers in Division II — Trey Winkler (195) and Preston Fisher (220).

Five Haughton wrestlers made the awards stand in Division II — Louis Lindsey (fifth, 120), Kameron Smith (fifth, 160), Charlie Yocom (fifth, 182), Dennis Matute (sixth, 145) and Justin Nixon (sixth, 195).

Haughton finished ninth with 72 points and Benton 11th with 42. Lafayette Teurlings Catholic won with 269.5. North DeSoto was runner-up with 240.5.

Bossier’s Ja’cory Tyler finished third in the Division III 126-pound class. Christian Johnson made the awards stand with a sixth-place finish in the 160-pound class.

Bossier was 12th in Division III with 39 points. Basile successfully defended its title with 245 points. Brusly was runner-up with 203.

Keeler’s championship was the culmination of an outstanding career. He was third in the Division II 106-pound class as a sophomore and runner-up last year.

He dominated his class Friday and Saturday, pinning his three opponents before the finals. In Saturday’s semifinal match, it took him just 1:17 to pin Michael Rader of St. Paul’s.

“I worked hard for this moment,” Keeler said. “I’ve encountered a lot of adversity but I just never gave up on myself. None of this would be possible without my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, 100 percent. A state championship wouldn’t matter if I didn’t have Jesus. Getting that straight is more important than winning a state title.”

Keeler said his training during the summer and after school was key to ultimately winning the championship.

“Waking up in the morning to go run the stairs here,” he said. “Me and my buddy Jacob Chittom, after school we’d go run half-marathons just to do it. That’s kind of what you have to do. You just have to go out and work hard, and when you work hard you can come here and have fun. That’s the whole thing, just have fun and enjoy it.”

According to trackwrestling.com, Keeler finished the season with a 40-5 record.

Perry was also dominant. His 8-3 semifinal win over Brandon Gainy of Holy Cross was his only match that went the distance.

“I’m excited,” Perry said. “It’s a good feeling.”

Perry said he was a bit nervous going into his first state tournament, but he just continued to do what he has all season.

“I try to look at it like just any another tournament and just wrestle the same,” he said.

Perry finished the season 32-1.

Garcia, the No. 3 seed, gave a good effort in his title match before falling to No. 1 Jarin Meyer of Baton Rouge High 6-2.

He defeated Joshua Vitto of Lake Charles Barbe 13-1 (major decision) in the semifinals.

After losing a tough 3-1 (sudden victory-1) decision to Holy Cross’ Gainy in the quarterfinals, Viers won one match by fall and two by decision to reach the consolation finals.

He faced Gainy again and exacted revenge, taking a 4-0 decision.

After losing to No. 1 seed and eventual champion Peyton Ward in the semifinals, Chittom won his consolation semifinal by a major decision and then defeated Brad Mahoney of East Ascension 5-1 in the third-place match.

Benton’s Winkler lost to No. 1 seed and eventual champion Dylan Olivier in the semifinals. He won a 1-0 decision over Ron Roberts of Rayne in the consolation semifinals before pinning Quinn Collins of Carencro in 1:37 in the third-place match.

Fisher fell to eventual runner-up Miles Doucet of Rayne in the semifinals. He pinned his opponent in the consolation semifinals and then defeated Cameran Watkins of Teurlings Catholic 5-3 in the third-place match.

Bossier’s Tyler lost a 6-1 decision to eventual runner-up David Diecidue of Archbishop Hannan in the semifinals. He pinned his semifinal opponent in the consolation semifinals and then pinned Dorian Wilkinson of St. Michael The Archangel in 1:00 in the third-place match.

Haughton’s Nixon came very close to making the Division II 195-pound finals, falling to eventual runner-up Donovan Kaufman of Archbishop Rummel 13-11 (sudden victory-1) in the semifinals.