SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — Louisiana’s high school state wrestling tournament is moving from north Louisiana, where it’s been held for the past five years, to the state’s capital.
The Louisiana High School Athletic Association last week said it will move the event from Bossier City to Baton Rouge next February.
LHSAA Assistant Executive Director Adam MacDowell, who oversees the tournament, sent a letter to the Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission thanking the organization for hosting the event, The Shreveport Times reported.
“The event has been a huge success and according to my records has produced the most paid attendance figures in the history of the state tournament,” McDowell said. “This was a tough decision. However, myself and the LHSAA Wrestling Tournament Selection Committee ultimately thought it was time for a change.”
SBSC Director Kelly Wells said the LHSAA told them there was nothing they could do to bring it back next year.
“They said we might get a shot down the road even though we had record attendance. This is a one-year deal, so we would like to come back with an even more aggressive bid for 2022. We understand that about 80% of the wrestlers are down south, but we’d like to see the event back here sooner than later,” Wells said.
The wrestling coach at C.E. Byrd High School in Shreveport, Mark Yawn, said there will be an adjustment for anyone attending the tournament at its new site.
“The Baton Rouge River Center is antiquated in comparison to our fantastic venue up north,” Yawn said. “Food offers, parking, restrooms and seating are all very limited and will be an adjustment. We hope that the Shreveport/Bossier commission and the CenturyLink have set a new standard that our south Louisiana friends and coaches will adhere to and improve the venue and our wrestling families’ experience.”
A coach for the wrestling team at Evangel Christian Academy, John Tademy, is using the move as incentive for his wrestlers to bring titles to north Louisiana.
“We enjoyed the luxury of having the state wrestling tournament in our area. Now we are going to just fuel up the van and travel south in February,” Tademy said. “Our ultimate goal is to put as many wrestlers on the podium as we can.”
North DeSoto High School wrestling coach Dustin Burton, whose Griffins came close to winning the state title, wasn’t disappointed in the move.
“The state tournament is for kids all over the state,” Burton said. “It should be moved around the state to create growth for our sport. The Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission and north Louisiana wrestling family did an outstanding job with the tournament here in north Louisiana. I know that Baton Rouge can do the same.”