FINAL BOUT: Eunice caps memorable career with state championship

Peter Silas Pasqua
St. Amant’s Zach Eunice wrestles Jesuit’s Chad Johnson in the closing seconds of their 140 pound Division I championship bount at the LHSAA state wrestling tournament Saturday night. Eunice won the state title with a 6-1 decision.

KENNER – St. Amant’s Zach Eunice was his usual cool, calm and collective self on the mat Saturday night.

He strolled onto it in his Lee Invitational Champion sweatshirt and clearly owned it from that moment taking a 6-1 decision over Jesuit’s Chad Johnson in the 140-pound title bout at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association state wrestling tournament at the Ponchartrain Center.

“I just knew I was going to go out there and give it my all,” Eunice said. “It is my last year so I had to. I have been working too long not to get that. I hate Jesuit too. I did it for my Rummel boys.”

That is the state championship that has eluded Eunice throughout his career. A Lee Invitational champion as a sophomore and city champion as a junior and senior, the highest finish Eunice had ever placed at state was second.

“I wouldn’t let it haunt me,” Eunice said.

East Ascension’s Robert Gray also made the finals at 285 pounds but lost in the final seconds to No. 4 seed Airline’s DeAngelo Brooks 6-4. Unseeded Gray upset No. 2 seed Shane Delery of Jesuit, No. 3 seed B.J. Harvey of Dutchtown and No. 6 seed Nick Logarbo of St. Paul along the way.

“I came out really strong but I guess I got a little tired when I got to the finals,” Gray said. “It was worth it. It meant more this weekend because it was the state tournament.”

Jesuit won the team title with 266.5 points coming in ahead of Rummel’s 232.5 and St. Paul’s 221.5. Catholic was fourth with 200 points, ahead of Brother Martin’s 193 and Comeaux’s 146.5. St. Amant finished 11th overall with 102 points, while Dutchtown and East Ascension were tied for 14th with 67 points.

St. Amant’s Terry Palmisano placed fourth in the 152-pound class. Dutchtown’s Matt Hamilton finished fourth at 119 pounds, while Austen Gravelle and Randy Thackery each took fifth at 130 and 215 pounds. East Ascension’s Anthony Smith took fourth at 135 pounds, while Thomas Turner took sixth at 130 pounds.

No. 2 seed Eunice took control early over fifth seeded Johnson, who upset top seed Chase Gourgues of St. Paul in the semifinals. Eunice went ahead 4-0 with 1:20 left in the second round. Johnson scored 17 seconds later on an escape but Eunice would add two more points.

“Everybody in the whole community wanted this,” St. Amant coach Andy Chapman said. “His whole team did, too. In the last month, he turned out to be the leader that we knew he would be. It was such a great year. This is the first state champion I have ever coached and I have never been happier.”

Chapman, in his first-year at St. Amant, holds the all-time Louisiana pin record with 126 during his career at Baton Rouge High from 1995-98 but never won a state championship.

“He kept telling me I couldn’t take his title of being the best wrestler to never win a state championship,” Eunice said.

Eunice pinned Northshore’s Myron Ancona in 1:29 to open the meet before winning a 9-1 decision over Brother Martin’s Jason Puente. He won a 9-3 decision over Catholic’s Vincent Misuraca before manhandling Johnson.

“He did,” St. Amant coach Ernest Brown said. “He was capable of doing it all the time. In the last month, he has really dedicated himself to get into position and condition to be able to wrestle like he is capable of doing. We definitely wanted it. To see him from the days when he was in kid clubs and wrestling nationally around the country and now it has come to fruitition.”

Eunice, who is the only wrestler from Ascension Parish to ever win the Lee Invitational, becomes only the second from St. Amant to win a state championship joining teammate Abbas Laymoun, 2008 champion at 285 pounds.

“He is one of the best to come out of the parish,” East Ascension head coach Pat Mahoney said. “I don’t know if you would say best wrestler ever. There were a lot of high goals for him. Zach is a very gifted wrestler and could wrestle in college if he chooses to. He has what it takes. He is such a great athlete.

Gray scored with less than 20 seconds remaining in the third round to tie it 4-4 but a two-point near fall at the buzzer was the difference. Gray took an early 2-1 lead with 1:03 left in the first round but a two-point near fall put Brooks ahead just before the bell.

“I slipped over my own feet and just got caught up at the end,” Gray said.

Gray opened the meet with a 7-2 decision over Comeaux’s Michael Rubio before defeating Logarbo 6-4. An 11-5 decision over Harvey, who had pinned Gray four times this season,   preceded a 5-3 victory over Delery in the semifinals.

“He just wrestled the tournament of his life,” Mahoney said. “It hurts to lose but it hurts even more to lose like that. You think you are going to go into overtime and we lose with one second left.”

Smith, who was unseeded due to an error, fell to No. 1 seed Reed Hart in the consolation final. He opened the meet with a forfeit win over Bryd’s Galen Lambert before winning a 14-12 decision over Jesuit’s Timothy Harris. After an 11-8 loss to to Rummel’s Rhett Ernst, Smith ran off three straight decision victories over Huntington’s Tessey Steadman, Mandeville Jeff Rush and St. Michael’s Noah Brewer.

“They changed procedures and we didn’t get notification of the change,” Mahoney said. “That hurt Smith.”

Unseeded Hamilton, a freshmen, opened the tournament by pinning Hunington’s Daniel Brown before losing a 7-5 decision to No. 5 seed Ryan Ross of Mandeville. Hamilton then won four straight decisions over Northshore’s Kenny Bunch, Comeaux’s Olan Lemaire, East Ascension’s

James Rawls and Ross before falling in the consolation final to No. 3 seed Ian Ortillo of Brother Martin.

“He wrestled smart the entire weekend,” Dutchtown head coach Rodney Sutherland said. “It was a blast to coach him. He is a tough, young, guy, so that is good for our program.”

No. 5 seed Gravelle defeated Turner 7-5 in the fifth-place consolation. He opened the meet by pinning Acadiana’s Justin Crooks before falling to Catholic’s Collin Durrett. Gravelle then won a 1-0 decision over Sulphur’s Lucas Thibodeaux and a 9-4 decision over Fontainebleau’s Jacob Glazner before falling to Jesuit’s Trevor Johnson.

Turner pinned Chalmette’s Zach Sloan to open the meet before falling to No. 1 seed Johnny Calcote of Brother Martin. He then reeled off four straight victories over Mandeville’s John Rush, Bryd’s Andre Martin and St. Amant’s Guriit Sandhu before losing a 5-0 decision to Durett.

No. 6 seed Thackery pinned Acadiana’s Christopher Jean-Baptiste and Hunington’s George James to open the meet before falling to No. 3 seed Gary D’Aquin of John Ehret. After pinning St. Amant’s Brennan Howell and Rummel’s Tyler Burke, Thackery lost a 3-1 decision to Jesuit’s Bat Brunner. Airline’s Dalton Elliot forfeited the fifth-place consolation final.

East Ascension’s Austen Waguespack fell to No. 1 seed Matthew Rabinowitz 8-5 to open the tournament in the 103   pound weight class. He pinned Brother Martin’s Blake Schmit but lost to Catholic’s Zack Louis 6-5.

No. 2 seed Tre` Vaughn of St. Amant won a forfeit over Chalmette’s Claude Morris before winning a 18-6 decision over Steadman. Vaughn then loss to Brower and Jesuit’s Timothy Harris.

Dutchtown’s Dallas Chenevert lost to Rummel’s Dakota Boesch before pinning Acadiana’s Nick Lane and losing to St. Paul’s Alex Zorilla at 103 pounds.

Ira Curtis of Dutchtown fell to Lafayette’s Elliot Minvielle to open the meet at 112 pounds, before pinning St. Amant’s Chris Boyter and falling to Sulphur’s Brett Bergeron.

Rawls won a 10-8 decision over No. 6 seed Adeola Oguniyl of Fontainbleau before defeating St. Amant’s Alex LaValley 16-11. LaValley pinned Airline’s David Booth a match earlier.

St. Amant’s Chanse Kendrick and Dutchtown’s Taylor Harris both lost their first matches at 125 pounds but  Kendrick pinned East Ascension’s Keith Fort and Harris pinned Acadiana Jonathan Landry. Kendrick then pinned Harris before falling to Brother Martin’s Josh Raley.

At 145 pounds, East Ascension’s Bradly Day and St. Amant’s Brian Hogan each lost their first match but pinned Airline’s Jacobi Christaw and Fontainebleau’s Tanner Buccola. Hogan then pinned Day before falling to John Ehret’s Joshua Redmond.

St Amant’s Andrew Allemond pinned East Ascension’s Zach Roy to open consolation matches before pinnine Northshore’s David Burleigh and falling to John Ehret’s John Myles at 160 pounds.

Dutchtown’s Joey McCaffrey pinned Mandeville’s Nathan Stargardter to open the meet at  171 pounds before falling to Sulphur’s Daniel Menard. McCaffery then pinned Chalmette’s Tyler Teal and Hahnville’s James Poree before falling to Jesuit’s Patrick Nance. East Ascension’s Adam Alfred pinned St. Michael’s Benjamin Grant and Carencro’s Tyler Smith before falling to Menard after being pinned by St. Paul’s Norman Faucheaux to open the meet. St. Amant’s Brett Howell defeated Stargardter before falling to Fontainebleau’s Mark Barletter after losing to Rummel’s Johnathan Schneider to open the meet.

No. 6 seed Nelson Jointer o St. Amant won a 14-6 decision over Mandeville’s Joshua Zamjhan before falling to Denham Springs Trey Vicknair. Jointer then defeated Brother Martin’s James Wagner before losing to Airline’s Michael Bell.  

Laymoun pinned Hahnville’s Thomas Jones to open the meet before falling to Brooks. After winning a decision over Hunington’s Anthony Gardner, Laymoun lost a decision to Logarbo.

East Ascension’s Robert Gray wrestle’s Airline’s DeAngelo Brooks in the Division I 285-pound class championship bout Saturday night. Brooks won 6-4.