The hottest ticket in local prep sports is set for Thursday, when Clovis High hosts Buchanan in a showdown of the state’s top-two ranked wrestling teams.
The Tri-River Athletic Conference dual between the California Wrestler’s top-ranked Bears and No. 2 Cougars has blossomed into a must-see event in the five seasons since Troy Tirapelle, Clovis coach Steve Tirapelle’s son, took over at Buchanan and began returning the 2006 state champion to prominence.
Last year’s dual at Buchanan featured a laser-light show, dramatic wrestler introductions reminiscent of Michael Jordan-era Chicago Bulls games, a center-stage spotlight and an overflow crowd of 2,500 for a match won 39-15 by Clovis.
There were more than 1,500 fans in the gym for the junior varsity match and Buchanan administrators began turning would-be ticket buyers away at 7:05 p.m. after reaching the gym’s capacity.
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Clovis expects to have to turn people away again this year from a venue that holds 2,500. More than 1,500 tickets had been sold as of Wednesday evening.
Doors will open at approximately 4:30 p.m. with the varsity match scheduled to start at 7 p.m. It will also be webcast live by flowwrestling.com, which has Buchanan No. 5 and Clovis No. 8 in its national team rankings.
This is not a competition, it’s an event. It’s something people look forward to.
Clovis wrestling coach Steve Tirapelle on his state No. 2-ranked team’s home dual against rival and No. 1-ranked Buchanan
“This is not a competition, it’s an event,” Steve Tirapelle said. “It’s something people look forward to. I know from years past that people who have come who have never seen wrestling before commented on what a great event it is.”
The five-time defending state champion Cougars haven’t lost a dual to California opposition in eight seasons. Clovis has won 91 consecutive in-state duals since its last loss Jan. 24, 2007, against Buchanan.
But the Bears have finished ahead of Clovis at two tournaments this season – the Zinkin Classic and Doc Buchanan Invitational – and potentially will be favored in nine of 14 matches if both teams field lineups according to their rankings on The California Wrestler. Official lineups won’t be revealed until match time.
“It’s been marked on our calendar,” Troy Tirapelle said. “We tried to portray this as just another match, but we’d be lying if we didn’t say it was a barometer to measure ourselves on.”
Seven state top-two ranked wrestlers are expected to be in action in No. 1’s Durbin Lloren (132) of Buchanan and Justin Mejia (120), Josh Hokit (182), AJ Nevills (195) and Seth Nevills (285) of Clovis, as well as No. 2’s Matthew Olguin (106) and Abner Romero (160) of Buchanan.
Football honors – Nine Central Section players have been honored so far as CalHiSports.com rolls out its all-state football teams.
Making the Medium Schools team were Tulare running back Romello Harris, Madera kicker Evan Rios, Hanford defensive back/receiver Juwuane Hughes and Kingsburg offensive lineman Andrew Vorhees.
9 Football players from the Central Section honored as past of CalHiSports.com’s All-State Medium and School Schools teams
Small schools honorees include Central Valley Christian offensive lineman Blake Walker, Immanuel defensive back Ryan Case, Chowchilla running back/defensive back Anthony Stewart, Bakersfield Christian kicker Nathan DeJager and Chavez-Delano linebacker Mario Solorio.