Six Acadiana wrestlers won Ken Cole titles on Saturday at Comeaux High, and the championship group’s stories produced very different angles.
Three of them, however, had one thing in common in that they were crowns earned in their home gym as top finishes by Tyrek Malveaux, Connor Stampley and Abram Sellers led Comeaux to a second-place finish in the 37th Annual Ken Cole Invitational, behind longtime juggernaut Jesuit of New Orleans.
Jesuit finished with 233.5 points, followed by Comeaux at 215.5 and Teurlings Catholic in third at 187.
As good a job as the host Spartans trio did, though, it was Rayne’s Billy Marcantel that stole the show on Saturday.
Wrestling against returning Ken Cole and reigning Division II champion Nick Schneider, the No. 2 seeded Marcantel delivered an impressive 12-7 win over the Rebels’ standout in a topsy-turvy showdown.
Making the win even more impressive is the fact that Marcantel completely tore his ACL way back in the football season opener and has managed to continue his athletic success.
“The doctor said the recovery time was six to nine months and the seasons for all my sports would have been over, so we just decided to wait,” Marcantel said.
As easy as he made that decision sound, the Wolves’ standout is constantly reminded of his condition.
“I can’t shoot and I can’t really go to my legs,” he said. “I can’t run either for conditioning.”
Apparently, he can still wrestle. He came out like a ball of fire with a quick 4-0 lead over Schneider in the first 50 seconds. By the middle of the second period, however, Marcantel found himself almost getting pinned by Schneider.
About 30 seconds later, Marcantel ran off five quick points of his own, including a near pin, and grabbed the lead for good at 9-7. He went on to win 12-7 and earned Outstanding Wrestler honors for the upper weight divisions.
“He’s a very good wrestler, very talented,” Marcantel said. “He’s lanky and he got a couple cradles on me. I just kept working hard.
“This one feels really good. I didn’t do as well last week at Louisiana Classics. I lost to two good wrestlers. But I just kept working hard.”
As happy as Marcantel was with Saturday’s win, right up there with him on the elation meter had to be Stampley.
Comeaux’s 113-pounder was wrestling one of his best friends in Lafayette High’s Hunter Taylor. The two had been battling each other since the youth ranks and then were partners as freshman at LHS, before Stampley transferred.
Last year, Stampley was 3-2 head-to-head and so far this year, Taylor was 2-0.
“He just wasn’t going to beat me in my own tournament in front of all my friends,” Stampley said. “I just went out with all I had today. I just finished my shots today.”
Stampley is now 30-3 on the season and is hoping that Saturday’s win can catapult him to a No. 2 seed at state.
“I know a lot of what he’s going to do on bottom and I was able to counter everything he tried,” Stampley said.
Then there was the gut-check test of Kincade.
The week before, the Northside senior shocked the state with an unexpected win at the Louisiana Classics. Then he got very sick a few days later and woke up Friday morning wondering if he should even wrestle this weekend.
“I was that close to not wrestling,” said Kincade, as he held two of fingers very close together. “I felt really bad when I woke up (Friday). I was trying to decide if I should take the chance of going out there and embarrassing myself. Then someone showed me what I said in the paper (about not letting the illness beat him). I decided I couldn’t do that to myself, so I had to go.”
Kincade was certainly glad he did Saturday. He jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead and then upped it to 5-0 with a near pin with 33 seconds left in the first period. Then after manhandling Jesuit’s Dom Cormello for most of the second period, he finally delivered a pin with 25 seconds left.
“Endurance was definitely a factor this weekend, but I was still stronger than him,” Kincade said. “I knew that I would be able to control him top-bottom.
“This definitely feels good. It’s not too often that somebody from Northside wins Louisiana Classics and Ken Cole back-to-back.”
For Sellers, it was a matter of going out on top as a senior Spartan in his final Ken Cole.
After leading just 2-1 going into the second period, Sellers followed an escape with a quick takedown to take control at 5-1. Despite a reversal by Sulphur’s Raygan Suarez at 1:13, Sellers finished the period strong for a commanding 8-3 lead and cruised to the win in the third period.
“It was the first time I had wrestled him,” Sellers said. “I don’t mind that. Sometimes when you know the style of who you’re wrestling, you think about it the whole match. When you don’t know it, you can just wrestle.
“This was my senior year at my school, so I definitely wanted to win this one. At the end, I knew all I had to do was hold on. I would have taken the pin, but I just wanted to win.”
Spartan teammate Jacob Dale, on the other hand, was really hoping to finish off his second Ken Cole title with a pin after pinning all other opponents over the weekend. Dale led 6-1 early in the second period and certainly tried to nail it down, but had to settle for a convincing 14-7 win.
“I wanted the pin,” Dale said. “I wanted that last pin to go 5-for-5. I’ve always been an aggressive wrestler. But he was stalling.”
There was also very little drama in Malveaux’s match as well. In nailing down his third Ken Cole title, Malveaux led 8-2 after the second period and waltzed to the 10-4 win.