BAKERSFIELD -- Alex Cisneros' pursuit of the rarest of state wrestling accomplishments appears to be picking up steam, while Clovis High's pursuit of the all-time state scoring mark will feature 13 qualifiers.
Cisneros won his fourth Central Section Masters title -- one of five defending individual state champions to earn gold Saturday, joining Clovis' Daniel Gaytan, Lemoore's Isaiah Martinez, Clovis West's Nikko Reyes and Clovis' Nick Nevills -- as he tunes up for next week's CIF State Championships at Bakersfield's Rabobank Arena. That's where the Selma High senior will try to become only the second four-time state champion in the event's 40-year history, joining Bakersfield's Darrell Vasquez (1999-2002).
Cisneros improved to 42-1 on the season and was named the Masters' outstanding lowerweight following a 5-0 win over Kingsburg's state No. 2-ranked Javier Gasca III in the 132-pound final. It was Cisneros' fourth triumph over Gasca this season, following a 3-2 overtime win, an injury default and a 3-1 win last week at Divisionals.
"Those matches, I was just making sure to go out and get the 'W,' " said Cisneros, the state champ at 125 pounds last season following title runs at 112 as a sophomore and 103 pounds as a freshman. "Now I'm wrestling every match like it's my last because it's my senior year. I think I've stepped it up a little more."
Clovis, meanwhile, qualified all but one of its wrestlers to state -- and the 14th is an alternate -- while producing Masters champions in Gaytan (120), Nevills (285), Jonas Gaytan (113), Vicente Hernandez (126), Adrian Salas (160) and Dakota Gordon (195) as it won the team title with 277 points, well ahead of second-place Bakersfield's 163.5. The Cougars seek to not only win a second straight team crown next weekend, but do so with the most points ever scored in a tournament that the Cougars have won nine times previously. Bakersfield set the record with 226.5 points in 2002.
"In my past years here, I've never seen this team work as hard as we do," said Salas, who pinned Washington's Josue Terrones in 4:52 for the 160-pound title. "It takes things to the next level and makes me think we can make a statement."
Clovis also advances Julian Gaytan (fifth, 106), Matt Gay (third, 132), Jason Ladd (second, 138), Colby Thompson (fourth, 152), Zach Nevills (second, 170), Ryan Davies (fourth, 182) and Matt Weiss (second, 220) to state, while Dominic Kincaid (ninth, 145) is an alternate.
"We would have liked 14, but 13 is still good enough," said Daniel Gaytan, who defeated Clovis West's Brandon Rodriguez 3-1 in the 120-pound final. "We have a really good chance if everything goes well. Our guys are peaking."
Evidence of the Cougars' improvement can be found in Hernandez, who was a runner-up at last week's Yosemite Divisionals, and Weiss, who didn't even make the final last week.
"We're looking for 235-240. Anything beyond the record would be nice," said Nick Nevills, who is now 43-1 following his 5-1 win over Foothill's Rudy Amaya in the 285-pound final. "If we do that, it will prove we have a great team. We are pumped up and working hard."
Martinez of Lemoore and Reyes of Clovis West both look primed for repeat state-title-winning performances.
Martinez, the 140-pound champ last year, earned major decisions in his first two bouts, then pinned Bakersfield's Coleman Hammond in 43 seconds in the final. Hammond is ranked fourth in the state.
"I felt like I stepped it up today," said Martinez, now 39-1. "I just want to dominate."
Reyes, who won at 171 pounds last year, pinned his first opponent, got a technical fall against his second, then put Bakersfield's Kyle Pope on his back in 56 seconds in the final to earn outstanding upperweight honors.
"I want to continue my dominance," said Reyes, who has not given up an offensive point to a wrestler from California during a 44-1 season. "My mindset this week was get it over with as fast as possible. Next week I need to continue what I've done and get what's expected."
Other Masters champions from the Fresno area included Madera's Miguel Martinez, who beat Wasco's Isaiah Hokit at 106, and Eric Mendoza, who beat Weiss 3-2 at 220.
Bakersfield, which qualified nine wrestlers to state, had champions in Natrelle Demison (138), Maxx Ramirez (145) and Silas Nacita (170).
The reporter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (559) 441-6103. Follow him on Twitter: @NickG_FB.