Troy Tirapelle understands the task at hand.
The Buchanan High wrestling community expects better than the 18th-place finishes the Bears achieved at the past two CIF State Championship tournaments.
So Tirapelle was brought aboard to return Buchanan to its previous glory, which included a state championship in 2006 and nine top-seven placings from 1996 to 2009.
"It's our challenge to re-establish ourselves as a top-five team in the state," said Tirapelle, a three-time state champ at Clovis who coached Central the past two seasons. "Will it be this year? That's hard to say. We still have a long way to go. The program as a whole needs some revamping. We're laying the foundation, standards and rules. Before your team can do anything, they must learn discipline."
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Tirapelle will continue grooming the Bears for the postseason this weekend when they host the Zinkin Classic, which starts at 11 a.m. today and resumes at 9 a.m. Saturday, with the finals at 3:30 p.m.
The tournament has wrestlers from 62 teams representing the Central, Central Coast, North Coast, San Joaquin and Central sections -- including defending state champions Daniel Gaytan and Nick Nevills of Clovis and Clovis West's Nikko Reyes.
The Zinkin also features three of the four new head coaches in the Tri-River Athletic Conference -- the state's strongest wrestling league -- in Tirapelle, Clovis West's Ian Shaw and Clovis East's Mando Mendez. The other newcomer is Jay Pumarejo of Central, and they are all trying to catch up with Tirapelle's father, Steve, who led Clovis to last season's state championship and three state crowns overall in his 14 years as coach.
"Being at a school of Clovis West's caliber, no one here is aiming to be second-fiddle to anyone," Shaw said. "We know we have to build our kid program, our junior high program and the high school program. Steve [Tirapelle] built from the ground up and now he has talent flowing in. That's what we're looking for, that consistency."