Catholic shows their mettle in capturing the 50th Louisiana Classic title
March 31st, 2023 | Written by: Staff writer



[The LWN was at the state tournament but tried to write this as if it was not published 10 weeks after the event.]

Most Bears do not run away from challengers.  The Catholic Bears did though, just not in the usual manner.  These Bears first ran through, and then away from the competition at the 50th Louisiana Classic, held on January 13th and 14th at the Lamar-Dixon EXPO Center in Gonzales, Louisiana.

Coach Tommy Prochaska's team scored 244 points, which was 35 points higher than the second-place team's 209 point.  But that was not Brother Martin or Jesuit.  The Crusaders placed third while the Blue Jays placed fourth with two points behind Brother Martin.  It was perennial Division II powerhouse Teurlings Catholic who placed second with 209 points, outpointing Brother Martin by a half-point.  Holy Cross beat North Desoto 159 to 154 to place fourth.

Ironically, the Bears only had four finalists and did not have a single champion, yet had clinched the title well before the finals started.   An unproven theory of how this happened was researched just enough so as not to necessitate writing a “hypothesis."  Suffice it to say the Bears took advantage more of their matchups with Division II and Division III opponents.  By no means, though, can that be considered an excuse for their winning the event.  Nine Bears finished in the top six places.  Only seven did the same for Teurlings Catholic, while the Crusaders had eight.  Nine Blue Jays finished in the top-six places, but four placed sixth and one placed fifth.  Only two Bear placers were not in the top four spots. 

Catholic Bears
Teurlings Catholic Rebels

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Dale Ketelsen Sportsmanship Award
Coach Jon Orillion's Jesuit Blue Jays won the 2023 Dale Ketelsen Sportsmanship Award (PHOTO LEFT).  The Blue Jays placed fourth in the tournament, two points shy of third-place Brother Martin and 2.5 points behind runner-up Teurlings Catholic.  Bodi Harris (113 lbs.), Jackson Calderaro (182 lbs.) and Griffin Ellis (220 lbs.) took home top honors for the Blue Jays.  Orillion was presented the award by Baton Rough High School head coach Bill Bofinger, who founded the tournament as the Lee High Invitational in 1973.
Individual Champions
[PHOTO RIGHT] Individual champions:  (Standing L-R: 285 lbs. to 152 lbs., and kneeling L-R: 145 lbs. to 106 lbs.) were: Ryan Fobbs (Erath), Griffin Ellis (Jesuit), Danon Walker (Airline), Jackson Calderaro (Jesuit), Landry Barker (St. Paul), Nicholas DiGeralamo (Holy Cross - his second LACL title), Luc Johnson (Basile), Kent Burandt (Brother Martin), Ethan Boudreaux (Teurlings Catholic), Richie Clementi (Brother Martin - his 2nd LACL title), Ernie Perry, III (Airline - his fourth LACL title), Landon Reaux (Southside - his 3rd LACL title), Bodi Harris (Jesuit) and Alex Rozas (Teurlings Catholic).

Outstanding Wrestler Award
Ernie Perry, III
Airline High School - 126 lbs.
Airline's Ernie Perry, III was selected as the tournament's Outstanding Wrestler.  This was the senior's fourth LACL championship, a feat previously accomplished by and fellow Airline Viking Matt Rabinowitz (2007-10) and Korey Miller of St. Paul (2008-11).  Perry pinned all five of his opponents in times of 2:46, 1:11, 3:50. 3:10 and 1:35.
106 lbs.
113 lbs.
120 lbs.
Interview with Advocate sports writing  legend Robin Fambrough

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Coach Bill Bofinger founded the Lee High Invitational (LHI) in 1973, and it quickly became the hardest tournament in the state to win as, while the LHSAA divided schools into two divisions in 1975 and three in 2000, the LHI did not.  The name of the event was changed to the Louisiana Classic (LACL) in 2010 after Lee High School closed.  One could say the winner of the LACL is, therefore, the best team in the state.  But that would not really apply.  Some teams do not participate in the event for a variety of reasons.  Thus, the winner of the LACL has only won the Division I state championship 64% of the time, including this season.  Some stellar Division II and Division III wrestlers play a part in that, as does the plain "luck of the draw" re who the Division I teams may wrestle during the event.  There is not a more prestigious title to own than that of the Louisiana Classic or Lee High Invitational for an individual, though.  Oft times, the glory is short-lived if the winner does not also win a state championship a few weeks later, but those wrestlers will no doubt confirm the prestige of winning the event.  And it is all due to the foresight and wisdom of Coach Bofinger.

Below are photos of Coach Bofinger...

receiving an honorary hoodie from tournament director Tommy Prochaska with legendary Coach Sam Harnsongkram of Jesuit with many others with Ethan Boudreaux of Teurlings Catholic and with OW Ernie Perry, III. "Look what I done."

Brother Martin has won the most LHI/LACL titles with 22.  Jesuit has won 20 and Catholic has won six.

Unbeknownst to the editor was why Jesuit legend Arthur Dupre, a 1974 and 1975 state champion and 1976 runner-up, as well as the father of 2007 and 2009 Blue Jay state champion Jonathan Dupre and Blue Jay 2016 runner-up Joseph Dupre, was wearing St. Paul colors at the event.  As it turns out, Dupre is the grandfather of St. Paul's Conlan Enk, who placed third at this event and was the 2022 Division I state runner-up.  Enk did not just spring-up from nowhere last season.  He is a wrestling legacy.  Perhaps fortunately, the LWN staff photographer was too discombobulated to photograph Dupre's sock's when Mr. Dupre insisted on showing them,  They were blue with white "Fighting Blue Jays" on them.

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OW Ernie Perry, III with sports writing legend Robin Fambrough Caddo Magnate's Isaac Dees (3rd @ 160) Dutchtown's
Cole Gros


Final Team Scores

Place Team Points   Place Team Points   Place Team Points   Place Team Points
1 Catholic 244   16 Parkway 65   31 Benton 31.5   46 Episcopal 10
2 Teurlings Catholic 209   17 De la Salle 63.5   32 Caddo Magnate 30   T-47 DeQuincy 8.5
3 Brother Martin 208.5   18 St. Amant 53.5   33 Lakeshore 27   T-47 Hahnville 8.5
4 Jesuit 206.5   19 Sulphur 53   34 Belle Chasse 26   T-49 Pearl River 8
5 Holy Cross 159   20 Baton Rouge 52   T-35 Brusly 22   T-49 Plaquemine 8
6 North Desoto 154   21 Chalmette 50   T-35 Haughton 22   51 Central 7
7 Rockwall Heath, TX 147   T-22 Fontainebleau 49   37 Dunham 20   52 Mandeville 5.5
8 St. Paul 143   T-22 Walker 49   38 Acadiana 18.5   T-53 McDonogh #35 3
9 Airline 111.5   24 Zachary 48   39 Northshore 18   T-53 Springfield 3
10 Southside 104   25 Live Oak 46   40 Comeaux 16.5   55 Broadmoor 0
11 East Ascension 95.5   T-26 Hannan 39   41 South Beauregard 15   56 Fisher -1
12 Rummel 79   T-26 Covington 39   42 John Ehret 14      
13 Shaw 76   T-26 Lafayette 39   T-43 Destrehan 13      
14 Dutchtown 68.5   29 Basile 38.5   T-43 North Vermillion 13      
15 Sam Houston 66   30 Erath 31   45 St. Michael 11      


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