The state’s top two high school wrestling programs – two of the best in the nation, in fact – are separated by five miles.
And two points.
Buchanan High, ranked No. 1 in the state by the California Wrestler and No. 2 nationally by The Open Mat, held off state No. 2 and national No. 8 Clovis 27-25 in a Tri-River Athletic Conference dual before an estimated crowd of 2,700 on Thursday at the Rene Errotabere Center.
To further improve the spectacle on what’s become one of the Central Section’s marquee events in any sport, Buchanan brought in a $5,000 elevated stage similar to the one used for the CIF State Wrestling Championships in Bakersfield, and had wrestlers enter the stage to fireworks and smoke through inflated team mascot tunnels.
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Flowrestling webcast the dual, which featured six nationally ranked individuals in the Bears’ Matthew Olguin (No. 1 at 113), Ethan Leake (No. 12 at 120), Anthony Montalvo (No. 12 at 182) and Cade Belshay (No. 18 at 220), as well as the Cougars’ Justin Mejia (No. 2 at 126) and Seth Nevills (No. 2 at 285).
“Event-wise, it was awesome,” Buchanan coach Troy Tirapelle said. “It was amazing for the sport of wrestling and sports in the Central Valley in general. Wrestling-wise, not stellar. We looked flat. I think we opened the door for (Clovis) to think they are closer than they should be.”
Clovis had a chance to win the dual entering the last match of the night, needing a pin from Michael Portillo in his 132-pound match against the Bears’ Wyatt Peverill.
Portillo scored a go-ahead takedown with 10 seconds left, but could score no more points in a 3-1 win that allowed defending CIF State champion Buchanan to hold on for its second straight victory in a rivalry that dates to 1994. The Bears lead the series 14-10.
It definitely wasn’t supposed to be this close. I think by far we have the better team. We came in thinking it would be handed to us and we got shown otherwise.
Buchanan 220-pounder Cade Belshay on the Bears’ 27-25 dual victory over rival Clovis.
“It definitely wasn’t supposed to be this close,” Buchanan’s Belshay said. “I think by far we have the better team. We came in thinking it would be handed to us and we got shown otherwise.”
The difference ended up being bonus points. In a dual where Buchanan and Clovis split the 14 individual matches 7-7, the Bears had four wins with bonus points to the Cougars’ two.
The Bears – who ended Clovis’ 91-match, eight-year winning streak against California opposition with a 32-27 victory last season – received bonus points from Belshay at 220 pounds, Tristan Zamilpa at 145, Joel Romero at 152 and Olguin at 113. Scoring decision victories for Buchanan were Brett Villarreal (138), Montalvo (195) and Leake (120).
“I’m glad we beat them again,” said Romero, who pinned Tyler Gianakopulos in 1 minute, 27 seconds. “They used to do it to us and now it’s our turn. I’m stoked. We’ve just got to keep grinding and come out on top again (at state.)”
I’m glad we beat them again. They used to do it to us and now it’s our turn. I’m stoked.
Buchanan 152-pounder Joel Romero
Clovis’ bonus points came from Nevills, who improved to 107-0 in his three-year career, with a pin in 1:10 over Jacob Roberts at 285, and from Fresno State recruit Brandon Martino, who scored a 15-6 major decision over Zach Poore. The Cougars also received decisions from Victor Vargas (170), Jacob Good (182), Giano Petrucelli (106) and Justin Mejia (126).
The three-time state champ Mejia, who missed time with a concussion earlier in the season, edged Tyler Deen 4-3.
“It went pretty much as we thought, we just gave up too much bonus points,” said Clovis coach Steve Tirapelle, father of his counterpart Troy. “We were in it right to the end. I thought we competed very well given the circumstances.”
Tri-River Athletic Conference
BUCHANAN 27, CLOVIS 25
138: Brett Villarreal, B, d. Max Anderson, 8-3.
145: Tristan Zamilpa, B, maj. d. Micelli Chiaramonte, 11-2.
152: Joel Romero, B, p. Tyler Gianakopulos, 1:27.
162: Brandon Martino, C, maj. d. Zach Poore, 15-6.
170: Victor Vargas, C, d. Jake Levatino, 6-3.
182: Jacob Good, C, d. Trevor Ervin, 7-6.
195: Anthony Montalvo, B, d. Ruger Wyneken 5-1.
220: Cade Belshay, B, maj. d. Joey Jaramillo, 11-1.
285: Seth Nevills, C, p. Jacob Roberts, 1:10.
106: Giano Petrucelli, C, d. Josh Poore, 3-0.
113: Matthew Olguin, B, maj. d. Brandon Paulson, 10-0.
120: Ethan Leake, B, d. Brandon Paulson, 6-2.
126: Justin Mejia, C, d. Tyler Deen, 4-3.
132: Manuel Portillo, C, d. Wyatt Peverill, 3-1.