The Northwest Louisiana Regional Wrestling Tournament was full of firsts.
Huntington became the first Caddo Parish team to win the event, leading a top-three sweep by Caddo Parish teams.
One of the non-Caddo Parish teams to enjoy a breakthrough was North DeSoto.
The Griffins, in their second year as a program, had their first wrestler earn a regional crown when Dustin Brossette pinned Evangel’s Bradley Ashlock in the third round of their 220-pound championship match.
“It feels good making history,” Brossette said. “He started getting physical, so I had to get physical back. Before I knew it, he ended up on his back and I started squeezing.”
Brossette’s title was part of what has been a breakout second season for the Griffins.
“Baby steps in the right direction,” North DeSoto coach Matt Moeller said. “We’re really excited about where our program is going. We started off saying this year was going to be a year of firsts — our first tournament champ, our first regional champ. We hope to have our first state champ. We had a guy win a tournament. We just had a gentleman win regionals. It’s been a nice progress from where we started.”
The Griffins’ run to success has opened eyes among their regional rivals.
“North DeSoto is doing a great job,” Huntington coach Gene Strogen said. “Don’t be surprised next year if they’re the regional champions. They are tough.”
The Bearkats finished fourth at regionals, capping a busy three days for themselves, Airline and Parkway.
Caddo Parish’s decision to cancel Tuesday’s athletic events forced Bossier’s basketball teams to move their games against Green Oaks to Wednesday. The scheduling change pushed the Bossier City championships, hosted by Bossier, to Thursday, leaving the three Bossier City schools to wrestle three consecutive days.
It didn’t stop Bossier’s 182-pounder Jalen Oliver.
Oliver followed his city championship with a regional championship, capped by a pin of Benton’s Robert Chenevert in the second round of their match. As he did following his victory Thursday, Oliver punctuated his regional victory by jumping up and screaming before heading to his teammates for congratulations.
Despite the energy, Oliver remained philosophical about his recent run of success.
“Winning drives me, and it’s part of my team, and it’s part of my family,” said Oliver, who was named the outstanding wrestler for the upper weights. “What I realized is it’s not the skill that’s stronger than the will, it’s the will that’s stronger than the skill. If you take that out there on the mat, you’ll go out there and win.”
Tigers coach Jamey Wainscott’s club got a key boost when Andre Dean moved from Kentucky before the school year.
Dean has quietly built a strong resume, one he burnished with a 145-pound regional championship victory against Huntington’s Anthony Taylor, the Ken Cole Invitational champion at that weight.
“He’s lost four matches all year around here,” Wainscott said. “He’s very active, involved with ROTC, helps out at the school. Very outstanding kid, as far as personality and everything.”