Mayhap I may not miss wrestling so much
January 13th, 2024| Written by: Martin Muller



I think after the finals of the 2024 Louisiana Classic I could have flipped-off anyone I wanted and nobody who saw me do it would have given it a second thought.  Yet I was not at the Lamar-Dixon EXPO Center.  I watched it at home on the Varsity Sports Now (VSN) video stream.

My viewing experience was “enhanced” by the commentary of Robert Dauterive, Ben DiPalma and, for the semifinals, Chad Ravannack, the hosts of VSN for Louisiana wrestling.  As has been done all season, when wrestling was not being described, there was a lot of inane chatter about “mullets” and constant trashing of the state tournament for having three divisions rather than only one.

I am going to leave the “mullets” alone, perhaps with the hope that others will do the same in time.  But I am going to defend the divisions, or, at least two of them, as I believe three are too many.

As a former Division II St. Martin’s Saint, I find it odd that three guys who attended large Catholic schools would be so adamantly against the divisions concept.  These are guys who probably had three or four guys at practice looking to take their starting positions.  As a senior I wondered everyday if we would have three or four guys at practice.  Some small school wrestlers can overcome obstacles like having no practice partners.  Most cannot, though.

The three divisions are only used at the state championships.  And while it was not a part of the original plan for the Lee High Invitational/Louisiana Classic, the LACL has attained the status of being the event in which Division II and III wrestlers can prove they are better than their Division I counterparts.  It has become the tournament that decides who the best wrestlers in Louisiana actually are.  The "powerhouse" schools enter their first-string lineups into the event.  Every team wants the team championship and every wrestler wants the hoodie.

In 2024, though, 10 of the best wrestlers in Louisiana live in California.

Daniel Cormier’s Gilroy team was impressive before they came to the Lamar-Dixon EXPO Center.  Did anyone expect them to be less impressive when they got there?  They performed as they have been trained to do, and no fault can be laid at their or Coach Cormier’s feet for doing so.  I did not hear any of the comments made at the finals, nor did I see any of the social media posts that were written and later deleted.  Reading some responses to those posts though, well, that is why I think I could flip-off anyone there and nobody would care.

I think the 2024 LACL is a learning opportunity.  I will expound on that after I mention some things I do not particularly like about this year’s tournament.

Sam Houston’s Tyson Roach will never have a LACL title.  After getting halfway there, Brother Martin’s Richie Clementi and Holy Cross’ Nicholas DiGeralamo have lost the opportunity to be the fourth and fifth wrestlers to win four LACL titles.  A healthy Aiden Krass of East Ascension lost an opportunity to be seeded first at the state championships.  Brother Martin's Jacob Elsensohn lost that chance also.  The best team in the state, Jesuit, brought home a second-place plaque.

Remember, please, that while all of the things listed in the last paragraph are due to the presence of Gilroy, the Mustangs are in no manner to be blamed.  Next people will want to blame tournament director Tommy Prochaska for inviting Gilroy in the first place.  I do not think Coach Prochaska would have invited Gilroy, even though Daniel Cormier is a Louisiana native, if he knew how dominant the Mustangs would be.  Maybe he would have and that, I fully believe, is his prerogative. 

I find it more feasible to believe that Gilroy was in Gonzales for another reason.  The Mustangs were on their way to Kingston, Pennsylvania for a tri-meet with Wyoming Seminary and Blair Academy.  But they were flying on a Boeing 737 MAX 9, so…

Anyway, it is over.  We can bitch about it, forget it ever happened or learn from it.  I opt for the latter.

The LACL, even if it was not supposed to do so, has become the hardest tournament in Louisiana to win and, even if only for three weeks, whoever wins it is deemed the best wrestler in the state at that weight class.  That is particularly true for Division II and III wrestlers.  I know of no proposals on the desk of Adam McDowell of the LHSAA to change the current format of the state tournament.  So, VSN guys and everyone else who wishes there was a tournament that determines who the best wrestlers are, look about you.  (I could not resist using a part of the motto of the state of Michigan - “Si Quaeris Peninsulam Amoenam Circum spice,” or “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.”)  (Do not worry about why I know the Michigan state motto.  You should be used to such things by now.)

We have such a tournament.  It is called the Louisiana Classic.  Knowing full well that it was not designed to be a Louisiana-only tournament, why can it not be?  Did the Gilroy team, or the El Reno or Booker T. Washington teams, have a significant impact on defraying the costs of the event?  I understand that Louisiana coaches and kids want the challenges of facing stiff out-of-state competition.  The Catholic schools, and sometimes the public ones, can afford to go to out-of-state events during the LHSAA wrestling season.  And a lot of kids go out-of-state during the non-LHSAA wrestling season.  Tougher national competition is always available somewhere.  So, why cannot the LACL be reserved for the best of Louisiana alone? 

Well, I knew 12 years ago that my opinion means squat, and it will mean less than that now as I do not have any photographs from the event.  Then, again, nobody has ever been obligated to read anything I write.  Heck, I did get to cite that ridiculous Michigan state motto, though.  If only I could go back and flip off, in order…


Daniel Cormier atop the
podium in 1996 or 1997


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