After a five-week LHSAA mandated state-wide moratorium, the Sulphur High wrestling team looks to finish strong in a trying season at the LHSAA Division I state wrestling tournament.
In addition to the shortened season, the Tors have had to deal with two hurricanes, the coronavirus pandemic and more recently a major winter storm that blanketed the area in snow and sub-freezing temperatures causing widespread power and water outages.
"They have really handled the situation well," Sulphur head wrestling coach Jean Paul Duhon said. ìThey have been working hard, and they are focusing on the meet this weekend.
"It helps them to get away from everything else going on. Hopefully, I did a good job, and they are ready. We only got to go to two tournaments. It was harder this year than the last 20 years I have been coaching because we had a five-week layoff before state. We had to balance not overworking them. It is hard to get in the mat room and beat up on each other for two hours a day and not have a tournament on the weekend."
The tournament starts today at the Raising Cane's River Center in Baton Rouge and finishes on Saturday.
Sulphur has six wrestlers seeded in the top 10, including 195-pound No. 1 Corey Hyatt.
In the COVID-19 shortened 2020-2021 season, Hyatt, a sophomore, went 7-0 and won the 195-pound weight class at the Louisiana Classic, beating the No. 2 seed Nawab Singh of Live Oak in the championship match.
Hyatt is looking to become the Tors' first individual state champion since Ora Broussard won the 220-pound title in 2013.
Other seeded Tors include senior Kyle Thibodeaux (126-pound No. 3, 8-2), junior Trent Trouth (138-pound No. 5, 5-2), senior Daniel Burton (160-pound No. 9, 4-4), sophomore Brayden Laidlaw (220-pound No. 9, 5-4) and senior Caleb Harris (285-pound No. 4, 9-3).
Thibodeaux placed fifth at 120-pounds last season.
Despite some damage to their wrestling facilities, Duhon and the Tors brought in wrestlers from Barbe, DeQuincy and Sam Houston just as they did in 2005 when they helped the South Cameron wrestling team have a place to train after Hurricane Rita.
"I went through this with Hurricane Rita," Duhon said. "We had South Cameron come practice with us then. We brought them to state and helped them.
"We wanted to give these kids an opportunity to compete and come to the state meet. We did the best we could to allow the kids to compete and have a decent senior year. They are all like brothers now. It is one big team now. We just have to work in different color singlets."
DeQuincy's Landon Royer is the four-seed at 170-pounds in Division III, and Sam Houston's Tyson Roach is seeded seventh at 106-pounds in Division II.
In Division III, Basile is going for its third consecutive state championship and has 12 wrestlers seeded in the top-6, including a trio of top seeds in Jay Guillory (9-2) at 113-pounds, Alex Menier at 132 pounds and 195-pounder Baylor Waggoner (7-1).
Menier (11-0) is going for his fourth consecutive individual state championship.
Andre Johnson (15-3), the 2020 106-pound champion, is seeded second at 126-pounds, while Luc Johnson (14-1) placed third at 113 last year and moved up to 120 this year and is seeded second.
The Bearcats will face tough competition from Brusly, Archbishop Hannan, De La Salle and St. Louis Catholic. Brusly was the runner up last year while St. Louis was third followed by Archbishop Hannan and De La Salle.
St. Louis has seven wrestlers seeded in the top-six, including a trio of No. 2 seeds in Luke Caballero at 106-pounds, John Reina at 170-pounds and Henry Milligan at 220-pounds.