Clovis wrestlers on verge of CIF State repeat

Cougars, eyeing record, open big lead.

The Fresno BeeMarch 2, 2012 

BAKERSFIELD -- Clovis High sophomore Julian Gaytan entered the CIF State Wrestling Championships on Friday ranked 19th at 103 pounds.

He'll leave Bakersfield's Rabobank Arena today with no worse than a sixth-place medal.

That's how well the first day went for the Cougars, who took a major step toward not only a second straight state team title, but also an all-time scoring record that's well within reach.

Gaytan was one of Clovis' seven quarterfinal winners as Cougars wrestlers went 40-7 collectively to open a 164.5-85.5 lead on second-place Bakersfield. Gaytan contributed three of Clovis' 22 pins on the day.

The Cougars scored bonus points in 25 matches overall.

"This team is doing really well, we have this title in the bag," said Gaytan, who pinned Elk Grove's Jacob Lopez in 4:50 to advance to today's 9:30 a.m. semifinals, where he will face last year's 103-pound state champion Johnson Mai of North Torrance.

"We've all been thinking bonus points. We've been working hard in the room and this is what we came here for."

Clovis will chase a 10th team title -- and Bakersfield's 2002 scoring record of 226.5 -- today with 12 of its 13 wrestlers still alive in semifinalists Jonas Gaytan (113), Daniel Gaytan (120), Adrian Salas (160), Zach Nevills (170), Dakota Gordon (195) and Nick Nevills (285).

Daniel Gaytan and Nick Nevills are reigning state individual champions.

The Cougars also have five wrestlers alive in the consolation bracket -- Vicente Hernandez (126), Matt Gay (132), Jason Ladd (138), Colby Thompson (152) and Ryan Davies (195).

Even Clovis' only wrestler eliminated on the first day, 220-pounder Matt Weiss, contributed a six-point pin before his exit.

"Our little guy [Julian Gaytan] really set the pace for us," said Zach Nevills, who is assured his fourth state medal as he seeks his first individual championship. "It was unexpected, but once he got the ball rolling, it was a snowball effect. We're totally within reach of [the scoring record.]"

Salas provided a key moment for the Cougars when he rallied from a 7-4 deficit to defeat Oak Ridge's Keaton Subjeck 11-10 on a takedown with 28 seconds left in their quarterfinal match.

The Cougars even received free points as Nick Nevills received a forfeit win in the first round during his quest for a state repeat at 285.

"We feel pretty good about how we did today," said Nevills, who became the state's heaviest freshman champion in history last season with a title at 285. "We have some tough matches tomorrow, but we can win. We've just got to finish strong."

Corrections: The original version of this story included incorrect information: The original reported that Clovis had 23 falls and 26 bonus-point wins, but it was 22 and 25; the original reported that Matt Weiss had a four-point fall, but it was a six-point fall; and the original reported that Nick Nevills didn't score points in his first-round match -- but he did because it was a forfeit, not a bye.

The reporter can be reached at nickg@fresnobee.com or (559) 441-6103.

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