Ask a hundred of the multitude of wrestlers competing in this weekend’s LHSAA State Wrestling championships at the CenturyLink Center what their motivation is for trying to win a state title and you’re likely to get a hundred different answers.
Most will say doing it for the school, their teammates or to make their family proud.
Parkway’s Ryan Huckaby, however, has a completely different motivation for wanting to bring the top trophy in the 152-pound class, along with the team title, back to south Bossier.
“I want to rub it in my brother’s (Hunter) face, because all he’s done since he won an individual title two years ago is flash his ring finger in my face,” joked Huckaby, the No. 2 seed at 152 in Division II. “I know exactly what that ring looks like. It’s got a silver ‘P’ in the middle with black around the ‘P.’ Around it in silver it says ‘State Champion.’ I really want to get the team title too so I’ll have something he didn’t get.”
Huckaby and Parkway will join a solid group of northwest Louisiana wrestlers, as well as hundreds from around the state, Friday morning when the championships begin at 9 a.m. in Bossier City. Team and individual titles are up for grabs and Panthers’ coach Emmett Beggs believes his team has a solid shot at the D-II title, which they haven’t won since 2006.
“If we wrestle to our seeds, we have a good chance of winning it all,” Beggs said. “We are seeded in 11 of the 14 classes and 10 of them are six seeds or higher. But you never know what might happen with teenagers.”
There will be two sessions on Friday and two on Saturday with the championship round slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $10 per session or $35 for all four sessions and are available at the CenturyLink Center box office.
This is the second year for the championships to be held in Bossier City after a long run in New Orleans. The Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission, which secured the event through the LHSAA bid process, is hoping for another successful showing and plans to bid for another two-year offering this summer.
“Last year we did an exit survey and it created an estimated $2.5 to $3 million in economic impact for our area,” said SBSC representative John Cordaro. “Last year, more than 13,000 people attended, so this is a huge endeavor, but one that pays off big for the community.”
One of the biggest tasks in pulling off the event is securing volunteers to assist with scoring, working the hospitality room and checking in student-athletes and guests. SBSC volunteer coordinator Teresa Micheels said more than 300 volunteer positions are needed to make the event a success.
“But I’m in awe of the response we’ve gotten from our people,” Micheels said. “A lot of people from Barksdale are assisting a number of people from last year, who saw what a great event this is, are returning to help.”
Airline High School and coach Chris Knotts are the host school and a number of Vikings attended Thursday’s media event. That included top-seeded Christian Walden (41-0) in the 160-pound class.
“I’m glad I can close out my high school career here in my hometown,” said Walden, a two-time state champion who will wrestle at Army next year.
Division II top seeds include Parkway’s Trevor Tamburo (27-4) in the 132-pound weight class. Tamburo and Matthew Pitts in the 138-pound weight class at 36-5 on the season.
The finals will feature three mats on the CenturyLink floor with three sets of wrestlers in Divisions I, II and III in each weight class competing simultaneously at center stage. Individual awards will be doled out after each weight class finishes and the team awards will be announced at the end of the night.
Airline has several seeded wrestlers besides Walden. Those seeded wrestlers include: Dakota Brace (No. 4, 106), Peyton Bass (No. 7, 113), Thomas Barringer (No. 4, 126), Tucker Almond (No. 7, 132), Josh Partin (No. 4, 138), Darrell Evans (No. 4, 182), Matt Salinas (No. 2, 195), Alex Davila (No. 8, 220), and Jamarcus Gay (No. 8, 285).
In Division II, Parkway had several wrestlers earn top eight seeds. Joshua Keeler (No. 5, 106), Zachary Harper (No. 3, 113), Darryl Nicholas (No. 6, 120), Trey Fontenot (No. 4, 126), Toby Fontenot (No. 5, 145), Ryan Huckaby (No. 2, 152), Dalton Driggers (No. 2, 160), Carson Sanders (No. 6, 170), and Kaleb Garcia (No. 7, 182).
Other seeded area wrestlers in Division II include: North DeSoto’s Richard Mack (No. 7, 126), Bossier’s William Teppenpaw (No. 6, 145), North DeSoto’s Chase Bates (No. 3, 152), North DeSoto’s Cody Hickman (No. 3, 160), Benton’s Jordan Myles (No. 2, 170), Caddo Magnet’s Jacob Crusan (No. 4, 182), Haughton’s Daniel Monroe (No. 2, 195), North DeSoto’s Christopher Norris (No. 4, 220), and Haughton’s Johnny VaVeckhoven (No. 5, 285).
Seeded area wrestlers in Division III include: Evangel’s Caleb Lenard (No. 6, 106), Lakeside’s Nathan Willis (No. 4, 138), Loyola Reese Ebarb (No. 4, 182), Lakeside’s Mason Sparks (No. 6, 182), Lakeside’s Noah Willis (No. 4, 220), Lakeside’s D.J. Harvey (No. 2, 285), and Evangel’s Trey White (No. 3, 285).
If you go
2017 LHSAA Wrestling Championships
Where: CenturyLink Center
When: Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sat., 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Admission: $10 per session; $35 all four sessions