Evangel’s Bradley Wright planned to be an Eagles wrestler all along.
Byrd’s Quin Gilliam didn’t decided to join the Yellow Jackets until last season.
Regardless of their histories, Wright and Gilliam have enjoyed similar 2012-13 campaigns.
Wright took home the 113-pound championship at the John Curtis Tournament on Saturday, while Gilliam (190 pounds) was the area’s top indivdual finisher at the Louisiana Classics meet in Baton Rouge.
For Wright, his freshman season has been an addition to the solid base he built as a middle schooler on the Eagles varsity squad. His title at the Curtis tournament was his third of the season.
“He did really well in the second half of last year,” Evangel coach John Tademy said. “He was our first seventh-grader to win a
match at the sate tournament. In his eighth-grade year, he started lifting and running and finished fourth at the state championships.”
A couple of seasons ago, Tademy and the Eagles watched Matt Kimmel set a state record with 216 career victories.
“Right now, Benny Kirkikis is in the 11th grade and needs 73 wins to break that record,” Tademy said. “Wright, if he continues, he’s on pace to break the record.”
Gilliam isn’t on any record-breaking pace, but his start to the season was as eye-opening.
Byrd’s second-year wrestler won his first 31 matches before falling in the semifinals at the Classics.
“That was a big deal,” Byrd coach Scott Martin said of Gilliam’s unbeaten streak. “He’s had a lot of success. He’s a really good wrestler, but there’s still a lot he doesn’t know. He started wrestling as a sophomore.”
Martin said Gilliam walked into Byrd’s wrestling room after an ROTC session last school year.
“They were drilling,” Martin said. “He came in and wanted to know if he could start wrestling. He’s a big, strong-looking kid, but he had no idea about wrestling. He’s come out of nowhere. Last year, he came in, and I think he got fourth at Ken Cole and sixth at state. In Division I, that’s pretty incredible.”
Ken Cole Invitational
The 2013 Ken Cole Invitational is set for this weekend.
Seeds for one of Louisiana’s oldest and most prestigious wrestling tournaments are expected to be announced Thursday with the two-day tournament starting Friday in Lafayette.