On the surface, it seemed like another dominating win for the Brother Martin wrestling team.
Powered by six individual champions, the Crusaders won the team title of the Trey Culotta Tournament in convincing fashion with 522 points, 117 better than second place Vestavia Hills, AL.
But dig a little deeper, and Robbie Dauterive, Brother Martin’s winningest wrestling coach in school history wasn’t so sure.
“I’m pleased with winning here today but I now see some glaring weaknesses in my lineup,” said Dauterive. “I’m convinced more than ever that the state tournament is going to be completely up for grabs in February between Holy Cross, Jesuit, and probably us and it’s going to be a dogfight.”
In the finals, Brother Martin was represented in eight of the 14 weight classes and got off to a fast start when freshman Steven Shields, avenged an earlier loss in pool play, by earning an 8-5 decision over Brody Martin of Jesuit.
At 113, Brother Martin made it two-for-two as defending state champion Mason Mauro registered a major decision defeating Alex Betteridge of East Ascension 10-3. According to Dauterive, it was the best he’s seen Mauro wrestle since last season’s state championship.
The Crusaders also showed dominance in the middle-weight classes, registering three straight wins from 132 to 145.
First it was two-time state champ Paul Klein scoring a 9-2 decision over Cody Hill (also a two-time state champion) of Live Oak, and remaining undefeated on the season.
“Paul Klein is a coach’s dream,” said Dauterive. “He has been exceptional this year and we expect him to continue that way.”
Senior Austin Meyn followed Klein’s win with a 5-0 decision over Rick Lacava at 138. Like Klein, Meyn remains undefeated on the season.
“Austin Meyn is just the hardest working kid we’ve ever coached,” said Dauterive. “He’s in the toughest weight class (138) in the state. Rick Lacava is a great opponent from Rummel, he was a state runner-up last year. Austin wrestled a real good, tough, solid match.”
At 145, symbolic of Brother Martin’s dominance, a pair of Crusaders, Pierce Williams and Daniel Evans squared off in the finals with Evans scoring a 4-3 decision.
“The good news is, the coaches didn’t have to referee this wrestle-off,” said Dauterive. “We’ve got the (nice) problem, probably at two or three weight classes where we have two really good kids (with) 145 being the one with the two toughest kids.
Joshua Tapia capped off Brother Martin's individual honors scoring a a 7-4 decision in the finals at 195.
Other Catholic League wrestlers to win individual honors included Tyler Mire of Rummel who registered a 5-4 decision over Brother Martin’s Taylor Gambill at 126.
Jesuit finished third in the team scoring with 362 points and picked up individual titles from Efosa Eboigbe at 152, and Gary Patron at 182.
“It’s grueling tournament,” said Dauterive. “Every kid in the tournament wrestled five times yesterday, and three times today. The most they can wrestle is five times at the state tournament, so this is probably one of the more grueling tournaments of the season. We’re happy to come out of it fairly healthy and we’re happy to come out of it with a win.”
A total of four Catholic League teams competed in the 14-team, two-day event.
1. Brother Martin 522
3. Jesuit 362
6. Rummel 258
13. Shaw 113