Eunice stumbles to Miller in finals; Gators place fifth at Lee Invitational

Peter Silas Pasqua
St. Amant’s Zach Eunice attempts to takedown St. Paul’s Korey Miller in the 145-pound final of the Lee Invitational Saturday evening at the Ketchum Center.

BATON ROUGE –  St. Amant’s Zach Eunice suffered a nose bleed and eventually lost an 18-4 decision to St. Paul’s Korey Miller in the finals of the 36th annual Lee Invitational Saturday evening at the Ketcham Center.

Eunice trailed Miller 7-0 in second period of their championship match in the 145-pound weight class when wrestling. Miller went ahead with 19 seconds remaining in the first period with a takedown before a three-point near fall with 54.8 seconds remaining in the second period made it 7-0 following another near fall with 1:40 left. Eunice’s reversal with 10 seconds remaining in the second period put him on the board.

Miller added a three-point near fall with 44.5 seconds remaining in the match after Eunice had cut into the deficit before gaining consecutive near falls in the waning moments.

“Zach is the kind of guy that likes to keep it close,” St. Amant coach Andy Chapman said. “That is his style and I don’t want to mess it up. He was a few steps off tonight but not nearly as far as the scoreboard let on. He did a lot of dangerous stuff toward the end of the match because he was behind. One move here or one move there early in the match could have been the difference.”

Eunice won the Lee Invitational at 145 pounds two years ago as a sophomore by way of a 1-0 triple overtime decision. He lost an 18-3 decision to El Reno’s Cory Dauphin the 140-pound weight class finals last year. Miller won the 125-pound championship last year.

St. Amant was the high finisher among Ascension Parish schools, placing fifth with 104.5 points. The Gators also had Abbas Laymoun (285 pounds) take third and Terry Palmisano (152) take fifth.

“We finished the highest of any public school and that was a goal,”  Chapman said. “There were a few mistakes here or there but considering the pressure this tournament commands, I am proud and think we are only going to get better.”

East Ascension’s Austen Waguespack led the Spartans with a third-place finish in the 103-pound division. Anthony Smith (140) also placed fourth, while Robert Gray (285) finished sixth.

“We always want to do better,” East Ascension head coach Pat Mahoney said. “We wrestled the tough guys tough. Sometimes, you can do everything right and still lose. We just want to see  effort and that is all you want at this point in the season. Our goal is to be ready in five weeks, so hopefully we will be.”

Dutchtown’s B.J. Harvey placed fourth in the 285-pound class to lead the Griffins. Austen Gravelle (130) also placed sixth.

“I was real proud of my guys,” Dutchtown head coach Rodney Sutherland said. “They wrestled real hard. We have a lot freshmen and sophomores on the mat right now and they wrestled tough. That is what we are trying to instill in them. No matter what happens, wrestle as hard as you can and everybody did that.”

The top four finishers were all private schools. Catholic won the 64-team tournament for the second consecutive year with 253 points, placing eight wrestlers in the top four including four champions. St. Paul had three champions to come in second with 206.3 points, followed by Rummel with 203 points with two champions. Brother Martin placed fourth with two champions and 176.5 points.

No. 3 seed Eunice took advantage of an injury default to Lafayette’s Nick Garbarino in the semifinals to advance to the finals after being down 18-6 with 20 seconds left in the match. Eunice opened the tournament with a 9-0 decision over Rummel’s Alex Belsome before pinning North Vermilion’s Peyton Derouen and defeating Parkway’s Kyle Cloinger 9-4.

No. 6 seed Laymoun won a 5-2 decision against Harvey for third place. Harvey pinned Laymoun in 1:36 of the semifinals before Laymoun pinned Brusly’s Caleb Crochet in 2:29 and Tara’s Keville Glasper in 1:50 to open the consolation bracket. Laymoun then won a 7-3 decision over St. Paul’s Nick Logarbo. He opened the tournament by pinning Catholic’s Tyler Duvall in 1:49.

“Abbas had nothing to lose today,” Chapman said. “Abbas and B.J. are both great wrestlers. They have been going at it all year.”

No. 3 seed Waguespack lost an 8-4 decision to runner-up Ryan Seals of Mandeville in the semifinals before defeating Brusly’s Austen Schermer 4-0 and Sulphur’s Joey Mareo 8-3 in the consolation final. Waguespack opened the tournament by pinning Jesuit’s Robbie Muller in 59 seconds and Teurlings Catholic’s Mark Carrier in 1:05.

“That is the second time (Waguespack) wrestled (Seals) and that is his only two losses at that weight,” Mahoney said. “He is getting tougher. This time he loss close.”

No. 4 seed Smith fell to tournament champion Chase Gourgues of St. Paul 8-5 in the semifinals before winning a 6-4 decision over Catholic’s Trey Misuraca. Smith fell 8-5 in the consolation final to Rummel’s Scott Gibbons. He opened the tournament by pinning Riverside’s Nick Loyola in 2:59 before defeating Jesuit’s Chris Johnson 14-9.

“He is our best athlete but he is wrestling with a torn knee right now,” Mahoney said. “The first two minutes we can go with anybody but every guy that has beaten us we were beating before we got tired.”

No. 3 seed Harvey fell to runner-up Tanner Baldus of Mandeville 4-2 in overtime of the semifinals before pinning Gray in 2:46 of the semifinals of the consolation bracket. Harvey opened the invitational by pinning Hahnville’s Justin Jurado in 2:28 and Crochet in 3:50.

“He wrestled tough,” Sutherland said. “I think that is the highest anyone at Dutchtown has ever placed at Lee.”

No. 5 seed Palmisano fell to tournament champion Tony Wood of Rummel in the semifinals 20-6. Palmisano then lost a 9-6 decision to Parkview Baptist’s Kenny Whittle. He opened the tournament by defeating Jesuit’s Matt Firmin 10-1 before pinning Holy Cross’ Patrick Sens in 23 seconds and winning a technical decision over Airline’s Lane Miller 18-3.

“He loss a tough match to (Whittle) and that has turned into a real rivalry,” Chapman said. “They wrestle actually pretty similar and it is strange for Terry to wrestle somebody like him.”

No. 5 seed Gray lost a 7-3 decision to Lagarbo in the quarterfinals before pinning Shaw’s Cody Romero in 1:58 and defeating No. 1 seed Sam Engro 8-4 in the quarterfinals of the consolation bracket. Gray opened the tournament by pinning Parkview Baptist’s Joel Thorton in 1:35.

“Robert did well,” Mahoney said. “He beat the No. 1 seed and it was a good tournament for him.”

No. 7 seed Gravelle was pinned in the quarterfinals by tournament champion Wesley Fernandez of Brother Martin in 3:18. Gravelle then pinned St. Thomas More’s Brady Raggio in 2:13 before winning a 19-4 technical decision over Parkway’s Nathan Johnson and falling to Rummel’s Rhett Ernst 12-1 in the quarterfinals of the consolation bracket. He opened the invitational by pinning Holy Cross’ Tim Scanlan in 1:05 and Lafayette’s Michael Bruno in 2:46. 

“He took on the No. 3 seed in the consolation quarterfinals and it could have gone either way,” Sutherland said. “He is coming along.”

East Ascension’s James Rawls and St. Amant’s Alex LaValley advanced to the quarterfinals of the 119-pound weight class. Rawls pinned Shaw’s Evan Lutz in 2:46 before falling to Mandeville’s Ryan Ross in 3:37 and North Vermilion’s Garrett Granger in 4:54. LaValley defeated South Plaquemines’ Alec Phea in 5:40 and pinned Northlake Christian’s Zach Loupe in 4:32 before losing a 15-10 decision to Comeaux’s Trey LeMaire. Dutchtown’s Matt Hamilton defeated Live Oak’s Tyler Hill 7-5 before losing a 17-0 technical decision to Teurlings Catholic’s Philip Miller.

St. Amant’s Nelson Jointer pinned Baton Rouge’s Garrett Bailey in 4:43 and won an 18-3 technical decision over Carencro’s Calelb Schott before being pinned by runner-up Joey Hood of Brusly in 1:17 of the 189-pound quarterfinals.  Jointer then pinned Hahnville’s San Conlin in 3:58 before falling to Holy Cross’ Jordan Garrett in 4:52 of the consolation quarterfinals.

No. 2 seed Eric Staples of Dutchtown won a 23-8 technical decision over Chalmette’s Ryan Abadie before pinning Holy Cross’ Nick Michael in 4:22 but fell to Garbarino 5-4 in the quarterfinals before forfeiting to Tara’s Grant Hollis in the consolation bracket.

“What separates this tournament from everything else is it is all divisions,” Sutherland said. “It is the best of the best and a very prestigious tournament. It has been going on forever so it is big deal. You don’t want to ever say something is bigger than being a state champion but being a Lee High champ says a lot.”

St. Amant’s Chris Boyter, Dutchtown’s Ira Curtis and East Ascension Brayden Sonnier each won their opening round matches in the 112-pound weight class. Boyter defeated Brother Martin’s Austin Ivecivich 16-0 before losing a 20-5 technical decision to John Ehret’s Treven Delaune. He then pinned Live Oak’s Dylan Currera in 1:45 before falling to St. Paul’s Richard Stewart in 1:23. Curtis defeated Brusly’s Kyle Busby 6-3 to open the tournament before falling to runner-up Ben Willeford of St. Michael 16-1 and Jesuit’s Ethan Caballero 11-7. Sonnier pinned Mandeville’s Blake Brumfield in 3:01 before falling to Rummel’s Kevin Blaise in 1:35.

In the 125-pound weight class St. Amant’s Chase Kendrick pinned Mandeville’s John Rush in 5:15 before falling to St. Michael’s Landon Carr in 49 seconds.

“It is bigger than state,” Mahoney said. “It is bragging rights, especially for lower division schools. There are more teams here than will be at state. If you win this one, brother, you are for real.”

Tre` Vaughn of St. Amant defeated Airline’s Clint Rasberry 21-8 before falling to Brusly’s Ty Welch 8-4 in the 140-weight class.

Randy Thackery of Dutchtown and Scott Bosworth of East Ascension both won their opening round matches in the 215-pound weight class. Thackery pinned Chalmette’s George Artigues in 1:08 before falling to Redemptorist’s Justin Arnett in 1:34. Bosworth pinned Brusly’s Jacob Haydel in 58 seconds before falling to John Ehret’s Gary D’Aquin in 2:17 and Sulphur’s Casey Brown in 1:147.

St. Amant’s Jacob Lindenkugel pinned Live Oak’s Mason Claverie in 5:17 at 135 pounds before getting pinned by tournament champion Reed Hart of Brother Martin in 3:05 and losing to St. Michael’s Noah Brower 10-9.

Dutchtown’s Cameron Benedict pinned DeLaSalle’s Nathan Favaloro in 2:25 in the 160-pound weight class before falling to Catholic’s Patrick Bourgoyne in 1:34.

East Ascension’s Adam Alfred won a 16-0 technical decision over Rayne’s Trevor Carrier at 171 pounds before being pinned by tournament champion J.P. Luckett of Catholic in 1:02 and Johnathan Schneider of Rummel in 37 seconds.

“It is the longest standing invitational in the state,” Chapman, a 1998 champion, said. “I always had problems here but I would sooner lose my house than my Lee Invitational sweatshirt and I mean that. I have never worked harder for anything in my life.”