For the second straight season, Buchanan High secured the team title at the CIF State Wrestling Championships before the end of the medal matches.
But this one was far from easy, came with some individual disappointment, produced two champions and one most pleasant surprise while rolling up 213.5 points on Friday and Saturday at Rabobank Arena. Clovis was second with 189, followed by Poway (142), Selma (108) and Gilroy (103) in the top five.
“It’s a little surreal,” Bears coach Troy Tirapelle said. “It’s a great team accomplishment. This one was harder than last year. We had to fight through some adversity. It was amazing how composed they stayed and get the job done.”
The highlights of the weekend belong to Anthony Montalvo and Cade Belshay, who won their weight classes. Buchanan became the third school in state meet history to go back-to-back and one of six schools with at least three team crowns. Clovis has won the meet a record 13 times, including five straight before Buchanan’s current run.
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“It proves that last year wasn’t a fluke,” Montalvo said. “We’re just starting our empire, our destiny like the way they did. Hopefully we’ll have as great an outcome as they did.”
It’s a little surreal. It’s a great team accomplishment. This one was harder than last year.
Buchanan coach Troy Tirapelle on the Bears’ second straight team title at the CIF State Wrestling Championships
State No. 1 Montalvo improved on his runner-up finish in the 182-pound division last season with a 5-3 win over Oakdale’s No. 2 Colbey Harlan at the same weight class. Montalvo built a 5-1 lead midway through the second period and held on to cap a 51-1 junior season.
“Honestly, last year I just wanted to make the finals,” said Montalvo, who went 6-0 at the state tournament with five bonus-point wins while producing a team-best 35 points. “This year, I wanted to dominate. I think I expressed my dominance throughout the whole entire tournament. In the finals, I got my two takedowns, he got on my legs and couldn’t finish. I think I expressed dominance in that way.”
Fellow state No. 1 Belshay scored bonus points in four of five matches at the state meet, capped with a 7-4 win over De La Salle’s state No. 2 Darryl Aiello in the 220-pound final.
Belshay, who finished 50-1, improved on a fifth-place finish at 170 last season.
“I’m actually sort of satisfied right now,” said Belshay, who contributed 33.5 points to the Bears’ title run. “My whole life, I’ve been working to get to the top at the high school level. It took my last time and I finally did it. It took so many hours of work that people don’t see. My freshman through junior years, I’d leave this tournament devastated. This year was a little different.”
The Bears also received a runner-up performance from Joel Romero, who dropped a 6-3 decision to Clovis’ Brandon Martino in the 160-pound final.
Upsets didn’t deter Bears
Buchanan captured the title despite upset semifinal losses Saturday by reigning state champions Matthew Olguin and Ethan Leake, and an injury Friday to Brett Villarreal during the quarterfinals.
State No. 1 and national No. 2 Olguin, who won the 106-pound title last season, lost 1-0 against Gilroy’s state No. 4 and national No. 15 Nicholas Aguilar. He bounced back to place third, earning an injury default win over Clovis North’s Devin Murphy in his last match.
“When I lost, I knew I had to come back stronger and finish off the season with third place,” Olguin said. “I had some shots in the semis I didn’t finish. I’m going to take this as a learning experience and come back stronger next season and get another state title.”
State No. 1 and national No. 15 Leake fell behind Bishop Amat’s No. 4 Sidney Flores early and never completely recovered in a 7-5 loss at 120s. Leake, who won the 113-pound title last season, went on to finish fourth.
“We didn’t underperform,” Tirapelle said. “They just got beat. There’s a lot of good kids out there.”
State No. 2 Villarreal had to injury default his 138-pound quarterfinal after being slammed to the mat by Rancho Buena Vista’s No. 10 Bernie Truax and getting knocked out. Villarreal also had to forfeit a consolation match Saturday to drop out of the tournament.
But Buchanan received at least one point from all of its tournament-best 14 qualifiers to ease the sting of the upset losses, receiving a surprising seventh-place performance from 285-pound senior Isiah Ortiz, who entered ranked No. 22 in the state.
Ortiz wrestled his way into the quarterfinals with a pair of pins, dropped into the consolation bracket and captured his first state medal with an injury default over Vacaville’s No. 2-ranked Jake Levengood. Ortiz, who has wrestled a weight class up all season, produced 17 points.
“Ortiz more than did his share,” Tirapelle said.
Tyler Deen was seventh at 126 and Trevor Ervin was sixth at 195 as the Bears finished with eight medalists, tied for the third-most in the 45-year history of the state meet.
Buchanan wrestlers went 51-22 overall, and 11 of its qualifiers are expected to return next season.
Breaking down the champions