St. Louis, Basile eye state titles
St. Louis Catholic is the defending Division III state champion, but fellow Southwest Louisiana school Basile is hunting for its first state title since 1991, when the Louisiana High School Athletic Association state wrestling championships start today at the CenturyLink Center in Bossier City.
Basile finished fourth last year to St. Louis, which edged DeLaSalle 209-204.5 for the title, but this year each of the Bearcats’ 14 wrestlers are seeded in the top eight.
“We thought we had a chance last year and we went over there and the pressure got to some of the guys,” Basile head coach Cameron Cortez said. “I think they learned from it.
“No one needs to go over there and do anything extraordinary. Everyone is seeded in the top six, so if you go do what everyone thinks you are (going to do) then we will win state. If you are the sixth seed, you don’t have to come out third, just go be sixth place.”
Basile has four No. 1 seeds. Three of them are defending state champs, led by senior Gavin Christ (38-0), who has won 112 consecutive matches dating to 2016. Christ is going for his fourth state championship and for the fourth time will bump up in weight class. He won the 138-pound title last year and wrestled at 132 and 138 most of the regular season, but is the top seed at 145 this weekend.
“He is phenomenal,” Cortez said. “The last two years he has probably been the best wrestler in the state.
“I don’t think anyone even questions it anymore. Having a guy like that on your team really helps.”
Basile’s other No. 1s are sophomore Alex Meiner (33-6, 113 pounds) and juniors Hunter Langley (26-6, 132 pounds) and Isaac Cortez (26-3, 182 pounds). Meiner won the 106-pound title last year while Cortez is looking to defend his 182-pound title.
St. Louis head coach Terry Gage knows the Saints will need to get every point they can if they want to win another state title.
“Every match is important,” Gage said. “What is going to be important for us this year is the wrestle backs.
“I can remember years ago when Jesuit High School won the (team) state championship and never had a state champion. It is all about scoring points and we are going to have to score our points in the wrestle backs.
“We lost some good seniors last year and we have had a few key injuries. I wouldn’t say our team is weaker, I think it is just as good. This team is going to have to execute better this year because we have less experience. We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores and first-year juniors. It is going to be interesting, but it is going to be a fun state tournament.”
St. Louis’ top wrestler is junior Alex Yokubaitis (42-3), who is after his third state title after winning at 113 last year and 106 as a freshman. Yokubaitis is the top seed at 120 pounds.