BAKERSFIELD — Porterville High's Mason Pengilly, the No. 8-ranked 126-pounder in the country by Amateur Wrestling News, had to go through a fellow nationally ranked opponent to capture his latest tournament title.
This didn't happen at the Masters.
Not even at state.
It came during Saturday's Yosemite Divisionals, the second of three qualifying tournaments wrestlers have to go through just to reach the March 7-8 CIF State Championships at Bakersfield's Rabobank Arena.
Pengilly beat AWN's No. 19- ranked Michael Knoblauch of Clovis West 11-4 in one of two matchups featuring a pair of wrestlers with national rankings.
"It's great competition and great preparation for state," said the Stanford-bound Pengilly, state champ at 120 pounds last season who improved to 45-0 this season and was named the tourney's outstanding lower weight.
"I look forward to coming to this tournament because I know I'll be challenged."
Clovis' No. 5 Justin Mejia pinned Redwood's No. 19 Joey Cisneros in 5:51 during the other showdown of national elites to help the Cougars capture a fifth straight Yosemite Divisional title with a tournament record 370.5 points.
"This is the toughest section in the state and maybe the nation," said Mejia, a freshman sensation who beat Cisneros for the second time this season. "I like how intense it is."
In all, there were seven wrestlers among the AWN's national Top 20 per division in action at the Yosemite Divisionals, including one who didn't even win a title, Buchanan's Durbin Lloren at 113 pounds.
Top-ranked 285-pounder Nick Nevills of Clovis and Bakersfield's No. 16 170-pounder Bryce Martin, who each won titles, are the others.
"There is one sport around here that can compete with anyone in the nation, anytime and that's wrestling," Clovis co-coach Steve Tirapelle said. "There are other sports around here that are good, but wrestling is unique in that way."
The Cougars crowned five champions while qualifying all 14 of their wrestlers for next Saturday's Masters championships at Madera South — only the second time that has been done in section history — while breaking their Yosemite Divisionals scoring record of 362.5 set in 2012.
Julian Gaytan edged El Diamante's Jacob Delgado 12-11 at 120, Josh Hokit pinned Clovis East's Nick Callender in 1:60 at 160 pounds, Matt Weiss pinned Ridgeview's Jacob Lopez in 1:11 at 195 and defending state 285-pound champ Nevills pinned Madera South's Miguel Villanueva.
For the Penn State-bound Nevills, it was his 37th pin of a 40-0 season in his chase for the third individual state title and fourth team crown of his four-year career.
"We killed everyone in 2012 and we just crushed that record," said Nevills, the tournament's outstanding upper weight who pushed his career pin total to 137. "I'm not saying we can do what we did in 2012, but it's a good sign we can be pretty good again."
Individually, Central's Adrian Camposano tuned up for another run at a state title by edging Buchanan's nationally ranked Lloren 6-5 at 113. Camposano was the 106-pound champ last season before moving up in weight.
"I did OK. I felt like I should have dominated more in some matches," Camposano said after improving to 41-4. "I've got to come back and be better at Masters."
Clovis West, which finished third behind Clovis and Buchanan in the team standings, produced four champions in Chris Lane (138), Chris Garcia (145), Tyler Zimmer (152) and Cortes Morales (220).
Other champions included Central's Matthew Ontiveros (132), Bakersfield's Martin (170) and Madera three-sport standout Alec Gamboa (182).
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