The Times-Picayune - Sunday, March 6, 2005

CHANGE FOR THE BETTER - written by Billy Turner - staff writer for The Times-Picayune

Rummel's RYAN HESS and Brother Martin's JACK DUFFARD get their chances and make the most of them.

(Click on thumbnail for a larger photograph.)

The Crusaders' Jack Duffard, right, is the All-Metro Wrestler of the Year after winning the Division I state championship for a second time and finishing this season with a 41-0 record.  Ryan Hess is the All-Metro Coach of the Year after leading the Raiders to second place in the Division I state tournament.                                                                           STAFF PHOTO BY ELIOT KAMENITZ

How things do change.

Three years ago, Rummel wrestling coach Ryan Hess was an assistant coach at Brother Martin.  Jack Duffard was a student at Brother Martin walking around campus with a gap-toothed grin.

Hess was instrumental in getting Duffard to wrestle for the Crusaders varsity.  "I figured he had to be perfect for it.  He had to be tough" Hess said, laughing about Duffard's missing tooth.

Three years later, Hess is the head coach at Rummel, with the Raiders having passed Brother Martin in the Division I state tournement, and Duffard is an unbeaten two-time state champion.

For their efforts this wrestling season, Hess is The Times-Picayune's All-Metro Coach of the Year and Duffard is the Wrestler of the Year, edging such luminaries as last season's Wrestler of the Year Caleb Leve of Mandeville, St. Paul David Boyce and Jesuit's Philip Mahne, Roger Irion and Daniel Re.

Hess took Rummel to a place it had not previously been, second in the state tournament behind champion Jesuit.

He's still working on being able to believe that's a good thing.  "I think you have to crawl before you can walk, and all that stuff," Hess said.  "I've been told so many times that I should be happy, and the boys did well, but our goal is to win the state title.  (Until) that happens, I don't think we'll be satisfied."

Rummel already is working toward next season.  "Already they're back in the weight room.  They've had a taste.  That was just a spark for us," Hess said.

Duffard said he knew Rummel would improve under Hess' leadership.

"He's a little crazy," Duffard said of Hess.  "He gets you going.  He's pretty tough.  I knew he would get them ready.  He's a pretty good motivator."

Hess helped former Brother Martin coach Robbie Dauterive motivate Duffard when he was beginning.

"He picked it up real fast," Hess said of Duffard.  "One of my ideas about the sport is it's almost like a video game.  Each opponent is like a new level, like a video game.  You have to be able to pick apart an opponent, identify some of the things he does well, the mental preparation for each match.  That's what he (Duffard) does so well."

Duffard was the 112-pound state champion last season and an All-Metro pick as a junior.  But he wanted more.  "Since state last year, that was my goal (to be undefeated.  Each match I tried to get it in my head (undefeated, undefeated).  That's how I got myself ready."

It worked.  He finished 41-0, winning the 125-pound Division I state championship  He won the Mandeville, Ehret and Cashio-Shriever tournaments and the Ralph Barrow Auto Classic in North Carolina, where he was the outstanding wrestler.  He won the Trey Culotta tournament (as outstanding wrestler) and the Lee High tournament.  He defeated wrestlers from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama and Oklahoma, finishing his career with a varsity record of 112-6.

It's wrestlers like Duffard that keeps coaches like Hess, who wrestled at Holy Cross, going.

"I've stuck with it because of the challenge," Hess said.  "Coaching it, each individual presents a different challenge up and down the lineup.  Each kid is capable of doing certain things.  Being able to identify those and bring them out.  There are mental battles with every kid.  Coaches in all sports are like psychiatrists or counselors but particularly in wrestling.

And why did Duffard stay with it?

"It's the toughest one," he said, his partial plate covering the gap in his teeth but not eliminating the smile

103# - Phil Mahne Jesuit   152# - Paul Hebbler Jesuit
Finished first at Cashio, Catholic Invitational, Sam Sara and Northshore Invitational tournaments.  Was 43-1 this season.  Won the 103-pound Division I state championship.   Won the Division I 152-pound state title this season.  Finished third in state at 140 pounds last season.
112# - Daniel Re Jesuit   160# - Roger Irion Jesuit
Finished 45-1 this season.  Won at Cashio, District 10-5A, Tiger Holiday Classic and Catholic Invitational.  Won the 112-pound Division I state championship   Finished season 48-2 at 160 pounds and 1-0 at 171.  Captured the Division I state championship at 160.  Won the Cashio, Sam Sara, Brother Melchior, and District 10-5A titles.  Was second at state last season.
119# - Brad Gruezke Jesuit   171# - Beau Esta John Ehret
Had five tournament wins including Sam Sara, Brother Melchior, Catholic Invitational, Parkview Baptist and District 10-5A Championships.  Finished second at state to the Outstanding Wrestler of Division I, John Colosimo of Lafayette.  Was 43-7 this season.   The Patriots' junior returned to competition following a one-year hiatus and finished as the Division I state runner-up at 171 pounds.  Posting a 25-6 record with 18 pins while winning District 7-5A and Jefferson Parish championship honors.  In two varsity seasons, Esta has a 41-10 record.
130# - Caleb Leve Mandeville   189# - Michael Bossetta Jesuit
Last seasons Outstanding Wrestler on the All-Metro team.  He broke his arm in preseason but came back to go 5-0 at the state tournament at 130 pounds to win the Division I title.  He wrestled in three state finals in his career, winning twice.   Finished 52-10 with victories at the Catholic Invitational, Parkview Baptist and 10-5A tournaments.  Finished second at Sam Sara and Cashio and third at Ken Cole.  Was 9-0 at the Grapevine Duals over two seasons.  Despite being seeded third at 189, won the Division I state title.
135# - Jimmy Ballantyne Pearl River   215# - David Boyce St. Paul
A very consistent athlete, Ballantyne won the Division III state title this season with a 40-2 record.  Ballantyne, the No. 1 seed, defeated his first three opponents in a combined time of one minute, 46 seconds.   A two-time state champion, Boyce won the Jesuit Invitational and won at Catholic, Sam Sara, St. Pail's and St. Tammany Parish tournaments.  He was 43-1 at 215 pounds, including winning the Division I state title, and was 8-1 at 275# this season.
140# - Jeffrey Slaughter Rummel   275# - David Washington Rummel
Finished the season 56-5 with the Division I state title at 140 pounds.  He won at the Mandeville, Dutchtown, Trygg, Lee High and Ken Cole tournaments and was the Outstanding Wrestler at the Trygg tournament.   Finished fourth in the state at this weight, losing to champion Robert Hidalgo of Catholic in the quarterfinals.  Finished fourth at the Lee High Invitational as well.
145# - Torey Schertz Northshore   Utility - Brandon Lloyd Belle Chasse
Finished with a 35-3 record and the Division I 145 title.  Won at Sam Sara, Northshore, Lee High, Ken Cole and St. Tammany Parish tournaments.  Finished 110-21 with 79 pins over his career.   Was the Division III state champion at 119 pounds, a No. 1 seed and one of three individual state champions to wrestle for Belle Chasse this season.  Recorded a 21-7 record with 14 pins.