Making history: Plaquemine's Saylor wins Division II LHSAA Wrestling State Championship

Plaquemine's Sterling Saylor gets his hand raised by the referee after winning the finals' match in the Division II 132-pound weight class to claim the LHSAA State championship on Saturday evening at the Pontchartrain Center. 
COURTESY PHOTO/Musemeche Photography

KENNER - Plaquemine Senior High School’s Sterling Saylor won the school’s wrestling program’s first state title in the sport at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association State Championships Saturday evening at the Pontchartrain Center.

Saylor, a senior, defeated Teurlings Catholic’s Tristan Lee in the Division II 132-pound final by pin in 2:37 to claim the championship.

“It feels amazing,” Saylor said. “It is hard to describe and more than I thought it would be. At first, I couldn’t believe it. I thought it would be just another match.”

Saylor also was selected Outstanding Wrestler in Division II.

“We made history,” Plaquemine coach Matthew Zito said. “It was a great effort.

“The best thing about Sterling is he never panics. No matter what the score is, he always stays focused. He was confident and had a plan. He knew he had to take it one match at a time and he did it.”

Saylor drew the No. 2 seed and earned a bye to open the meet before pinning Benton’s Josh Caskey in 1:41. He then defeated Live Oak’s Brandon Webb by technical fall 15-0 in 3:03 to advance to the final.

“I was nervous going into the finals but I had to overcome it,” Saylor said. “I felt like I was the underdog but just had to keep my mind set on the goal.”

Lee, the state runner-up the past two seasons, had a 6-1 advantage in the final when Saylor took advantage of a mistake to lock him in a cradle for the pin.

“I saw an opportunity and I took it and ran with it,” Saylor said. “I did what I had to do.”

Saylor placed fourth at the state meet last year and finished third at the Baton Rouge City Championships earlier in the month.

“The biggest thing is Sterling loves the process,” Zito said. “He loves coming to practice everyday. In order to be great, you have to love it.”

The Plaquemine wrestling program is in its eighth year of existence. Other wrestlers include seventh graders Skyler Dozier and Rodney Franks and assistant coach is Lance Dozier.

“We hope this will help expand our numbers,” Zito said. “We also hope it builds respect for our program.”   

Saylor has been wrestling competitively since the age of five and hopes to continue to do so at the next level after receiving interest from Lyon College in Batesville, Ark.  

“There are no regrets,” Saylor said.