Holy Cross’ Jake Rando Earns Monthly Recognition park
Jake Rando, state champion wrestler from Holy Cross, has been selected as the Greater New Orleans Amateur Athlete of the Month for February. Monthly award-winners are chosen in voting by the Greater New Orleans Sports Award Selection Committee, sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
Rando won his third consecutive state title, taking the championship in the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Division I event at the 145-pound weight class in Bossier City on February 11. He was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler in the event after pinning Patrick Evans of Brother Martin in 1:06. His victory was one of just two individual titles for the Tigers, who nonetheless captured the team championship thanks to 13 of 14 wrestlers placing in the top five in their respective classes. While it was Holy Cross' state-best 28th championship, it was its first in Division I since 1988. Rando also posted a 145-pound victory in a February 1 victory over Jesuit which secured the district title for the Tigers – the win gave the Tigers their first Catholic League title (Division I) since 1986. Possibly more impressive is that Rando began the season wrestling at 152 and 160 pounds. "I'm comfortable at whatever weight they need me at," Rando said. "I'll do whatever it takes to help us win a state championship. I had to cut a little weight. It's not a big deal."
Rando won the February honor over one of the most crowded nominee fields in recent history. Also nominated were four basketball stars, a track standout, a baseball slugger and another state champion wrestler.
The basketball stars were Dillard University's Jalen McGaughy, who averaged 15.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.4 blocks per game as the Bleu Devils captured the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference regular season title; Chalmette High's Mitchell Robinson, who averaged 27.1 points, 13.9 rebounds and 8.0 blocks per game in a 6-2 month of February; Meghan Temple from the Loyola University women's team, who averaged 9.6 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks to lead the Wolf Pack to the Southern States Athletic Conference title; and UNO's Erik Thomas, who averaged 20.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per game as the Privateers continued their drive to the Southland Conference championship.
The other nominees were UNO baseball newcomer Tristan Clarke, who batted .371 in February with 11 runs scored and 12 runs batted in; Tulane track star Jessica Duckett, who broke her own school-record in the 60-meter hurdles to take second place at the American Athletic Conference Indoor Championships; and Jesuit High's Corey Dublin, who capped a perfect 7-0 month of February by winning the state heavyweight wrestling championship.
The Greater New Orleans Sports Selection Committee has been selecting an Amateur Athlete of the Month each month since 1957. The athlete must be a native of the greater New Orleans area or must compete for a team in the metropolitan region in order to be eligible. Each of the monthly award winners will be honored in the summer at the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Ceremony, hosted by the Allstate Sugar Bowl.