The Brusly wrestling program, one of the most accomplished high school squads in the state, recently honored the first team to win the pinnacle award.
BHS took time out of its recent invitational meet to pay homage to the team that won the first state championship 25 years ago.
The squad, which entered the season an underdog, pulled off the surprise win in the 1995 LHSAA state championship at the University of New Orleans Recreation Center.
It was an unlikely job for Camile Plaisance, who coached the program until he left the BHS a couple years later.
“I came in as a teacher and they assigned me to the wrestling program,” said Plaisance, who left BHS to teach at LSU. “The main thing I had to do is make sure they made the grades in the classroom and to make sure everyone stayed healthy.”
Wrestlers who attended the ceremony included champions Barrett Wilson, Blake Saucier and Chip Seymour, state runners-up Dedrick Williams and Ricky Saucier, and Gerrod Thomas. Others who wrestled included on the first championship team were Richard Chelette, Jacob Coots, Seth Daniels, Kerry Gerald, Lloyd Kersey, Ron LeRay, Brian Pelitier, Scott Settoon, Bryan Seymour.
The team succeeded in spite of not having a training era, something the program would get several years later.
The wrestlers would sometimes work out in the locker room, and other times practice after school.
“We had to rush to the wrestling club on Government Street in Baton Rouge after school,” Ricky Saucier said.
The toughest part, however, involved the weight control.
“I used to have to lose 25 or 30 pounds to make the 130-pound division,” Williams said.
Thomas, who placed third at state in 1995. almost lost the chance to wrestle after he injured his knee in the last football game of the season.
“Doctors cleared me just in time for state,” he recalled. “My entry helped the give our team the leverage to win state.”
The squad won a second consecutive title the following year at the UNO Lakefront Arena. The Panthers captured 12 more championships under Jimmy Bible, who succeeded Plaisance in 1999.
The reason for the success of the program was simple, Wilson said.
“When you win something like that once, you want it again and again,” he said.