3 other wrestlers place in Top 6 in their divisions
For the third time in as many years, a Hahnville Tiger can call himself state champion.
Hahnville senior Nicholas Lirette defeated Brother Martin’s Taylor Gambill in the finals of the Division I 138 pound weight division at the LHSAA state wrestling championship in Bossier City Saturday, winning by major decision, 14-4. In the process, Lirette put the finishing touches on a dominating season that saw him lose just one match.
He went 53-1 this season and finishes his prep career with a 212-30 overall record, representing the most wins in the history of the Hahnville program.
Lirette finished as state runner-up in his weight class as a sophomore and finished third last season. This season, he had no peer at 138 and finished as the best of the best.
“It’s a storybook ending to my high school career,” said Lirette, who has committed to wrestle for the University of North Carolina. “It feels amazing. I know I’ll be able to see my name hanging up on a banner at Hahnville for years and years.
“It’s still hard to grasp. I’ve won at other tournaments, but when you win that state championship, you realize there’s no feeling like it.”
Hahnville wrestling coach Dan Erwin said Lirette is more than deserving.
“After all of his hard work, it’s great to see it pay off on that stage,” Hahnville wrestling coach Dan Erwin said. “We always talk about how hard work pays off. Nick Lirette is a shining example that it does pay off.”
Lirette vaulted over a mental hurdle to come away with the victory. In his two previous trips to state, he’d lost in the finals and semifinals, respectively, to a Brother Martin wrestler. This time around, with another Crusader standing between he and a championship, he would not be denied.“You can’t wrestle the singlet, you’ve gotta wrestle the guy,” Lirette said. “If you allow yourself to be in awe of their program, a public school guy would never be able to win state.”
He said he’s already hearing some accolades from classmates, friends and family.
“It’s crazy,” he said. “To hear people in the hallways saying, ‘Let’s go, champ!’ To hear my mom and my dad calling me champ, it’s so awesome.”
Erwin said Lirette, who entered the state tournament as the top seed at 138 pounds, held dominant position throughout the championship match and “stuck to his gameplan.”
“(Gambill) wrestled a great match, but Nick attacked and took advantage of every mistake,” Erwin said. Erwin said the senior is expected to be named to the prep All-American team.
Lirette represents a Hahnville state champion for the third consecutive year. In 2014 and 2015, Kendrick Jones won back to back championships—prior to Jones and Lirette, Hahnville had just one individual state champion in its history. Nicknamed “The Hulk,” Jones was a two-time All-American for the Tigers.
He and Lirette have combined to cast a bright spotlight on the Tigers’ wrestling program.
Three other Tigers placed highly at state as well. Trevon Honor took second place in the 195 pound division. Steven Cloud finished fourth in the 220 pound division, as did Blade Rager in the 285 pound division.
Hahnville finished 10th overall in Division I, scoring 116 points. Brother Martin won the team championship with 304.5 points.
Honor was the No. 2 seed in his weight class and performed to that seed, capping a strong season as state runner-up.
“He wrestled a great tournament. (Jesuit’s Guy Patron) was just better in that last match. Trevon proved he deserved his seed by making it to the final. He’s another kid who really puts in the time.”
Erwin said that the 10th place team finish was a bit disappointing, given the team’s preseason expectations; a strong squad was returning and Hahnville took seventh at last year’s state meet. But injuries compromised the Tigers’ overall finish; two wrestlers competed despite dealing with torn knee ligaments, while two others missed the tournament entirely.
“We don’t have the numbers some other schools do,” Erwin said. “We’ve got our 20 to 23 guys and we go from there, but we aren’t going to necessarily have the numbers to score top to bottom.
“At the same time, we had three kids place top six last year, and four this time around. Blade Rager, Steven Cloud, those guys have done it twice now. They were tremendous.”