Wrestlers nearly beat local title record

Bossier senior wrestler Jalen Oliver had felt the overwhelming emotions of a state championship before, and he wanted to add one more in his last chance.

Oliver was the only local wrestler to repeat as a champion Saturday in Kenner at the LHSAA state wrestling meet, but he was far from alone on the medal stand.

Oliver was one of seven wrestlers to win state titles, one short of the area’s record of eight, according to Evangel assistant wrestling coach John Tademy, Jr.

“It made me a lot more nervous,” Oliver said about trying to repeat, even though he’s wrestling in Division II compared to Division III this past season. “Just knowing that I’m wrestling guys I’ve never faced before and in a bigger division, you didn’t know the outcome.

“But it feels great to win again. Not many people in North Louisiana get that opportunity, so it’s just amazing.”

The six other state title holders include Benton’s Jordan White (Division II 160 pounds), Benton’s Andre Dean II (D-II 152), Byrd’s Quin Gilliam (D-I 220), Parkway’s Zac Funderburk (D-II 145), Evangel’s Logan Williams (D-III 285) and Lakeside’s Luke Griffith (D-III 220).

Dean II and White won their titles in consecutive matches.

“When I saw him win, I got pumped,” said White, who wrestled next. “We’ve been wrestling partners since last year, and we were both striving to get a title.”

Dean II started wrestling in Kentucky before he move to Benton two years ago. Last season, Dean II finished second while White finished fifth in his first year of wrestling.

“I would have loved to win it last year, but I knew I had a second chance,” Dean II said. “Having White as my wrestling partner helps a lot because the more diverse wrestlers you face the better.

“The wrestling is a little more technical up north, and I taught Jordan some of those techniques. He’s so strong and competitive that it really helped me to practice against him, too.”

Bossier coach Bo Shelton added that in his eight years of coaching in this area, the current crop of teams were of the highest caliber.

“Seven is a very good number for this area,” Shelton said. “We had 10 or 11 kids in the finals, so that percentage ain’t bad.

“This is the highest caliber of wrestling I’ve seen at state from this area. A lot of that from good coaches and wrestling other area teams a lot. It proves that wrestling in this area is quality, and it takes that myth way.”

Wilkes talks about indoor mark

Airline distance runner Jack Wilkes practices outdoors, but he made his mark indoors Saturday for the LHSAA state meet in Baton Rouge.

Wilkes’ time of 1:56.13 in the 800 meter not only won the Division I title, it set an Airline record and was the third-fastest indoor time in state history.

“The key is you have to get out a lot faster on the indoors track (200 meters) than the outdoor track (400 meters),” Wilkes said. “I started quicker than normal and got out in front in lane one to stay out of trouble.

“It was really cool to be in that group because I know a lot of good runners that run the 800.”

Four other locals brought home state titles. Parkway’s Alison Ringle (5:18.13) won the 1600 meter and placed fifth in the 800; Lakeside’s Chris Lewis (6.81) took the 60 meter; Ruston’s Quanese Jones (5-06) captured the high jump title and Fair Park’s Jerome Wynn (45-06) won the triple jump. Wynn also placed third in the high jump.

The area produced an abundance of top-three finishes in a variety of events.

Parkway’s Hayden Kingfisher (1600 meter) placed second, Byrd’s Caroline Campbell (60m hurdle) finished second, Haughton’s Micah Larkins (60m) finished second as did Loyola’s Kaitlin Tanner (3200m).

In the field, Doyline’s Shelby Waln finished second in shot put.

Campbell, who’s 60m hurdle time of 9.11 is a Byrd indoor record, added a third-place finish as part of Byrd’s 4X400 relay team, which included Ja’Nesha Strong, Jocelyn Walker and Morgan White.

Other finishing third in their respective events include North DeSoto’s Christian Boyd (60m hurdles), Ruston’s Carrie Bridges (shot put) and Ruston’s Sam Haskins (pole vault).

Wynn’s performance led Fair Park to a fourth-place finish for the boys while Campbell’s efforts pushed the Byrd’s girls to a sixth-place finish.

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