High school wrestling kicks into full swing locally this weekend, with eight of the state's top 17 teams gathering for tournaments in Madera and Fresno.
Top-ranked and defending state champion Bakersfield headlines the 33-team field in the Chukchansi Invitational at Madera South High, while No. 4 Clovis tops the 12-team bill for the Clovis West Shootout. Both tournaments begin today and end Saturday.
The Chukchansi Invitational, which has grown from a 17-team tournament in its inaugural run last year, also features No. 8 Gilroy and No. 17 Clovis East, as well as Madera (ranked seventh in the Central Section) and Central (ranked ninth in the section). There are 33 state-ranked wrestlers and 17 others who received honorable mentions competing.
"The Chukchansi Invitational is quickly becoming one of the premier wrestling tournaments in the area," Madera South coach Jason Gaeth-Pearce said. "... It doesn't get better than this for high school wrestling in our area."
The Clovis West Shootout features a dual-meet rotational, with schools from the Fresno area (Clovis, No. 10 Clovis West, No. 11 Clovis North, No. 12 Buchanan, Hanford West and Redwood) dubbed the home teams competing against each of the away teams (No. 15 Vacaville, Stockdale, Laguna Hills, Victor Valley-Victorville, Bella Vista-Fair Oaks and Turlock).
At the end of the dual tournament, the two wrestlers with the best record in each weight class will square off for individual titles.
"It's still by far the toughest dual tournament in the state," Clovis West coach Ralph Garcia said. "A lot of these teams very rarely get a chance to match up head-to-head, so it's a great opportunity to do that."
The Golden Eagles will be without three starters as 285-pounder Jumoke Hunter, 171-pounder John Lierly and 189-pounder Eddie Espana will be busy today playing for Clovis West's football team in the Central Section Division I final against Bakersfield.
Making the grade
Clovis' girls water polo team was a success in the pool as well as the classroom.
The Cougars, who captured the school's first girls water polo title last month, are among the section's eight fall academic champions, with a team grade-point-average of 3.73, finishing ahead of Sierra (3.61) and Yosemite (3.50).
The highest cumulative GPA belonged to Sierra's girls cross country team at 3.90, which was followed by the 3.70 of Mt. Whitney and the 3.59 of Fowler.