Clovis News: Sports

Clovis High wrestlers go 14 for 14

BAKERSFIELD -- For the first time in the storied history of a program with eight state championships in its trophy case, Clovis High has advanced all 14 of its wrestlers to the Central Section Masters tournament.

But the question to be answered next Saturday at Buchanan: Will that be enough against the firepower of Bakersfield as both teams position themselves for a run at the state title.

Led by individual triumphs from 189-pounder Dakota Gordon and 285-pounder Nick Nevills, the Cougars' outscored the Drillers and their four champions 310.5-271.5 Saturday at the Yosemite Divisional. Defending state champion Bakersfield advanced 10 to the Masters.

"It's huge. That's what we worked for," said Gordon, who pinned Liberty-Bakersfield's Chris Sizemore in 1:08 to win the 189 title. "We're got more room to improve. We had some guys who were sick this tournament. Once we get healthy, we'll go full bore."

Clovis had four runners-up (Brady Bersano at 140, Blake Thompson at 152, Adrian Salas at 160 and Zach Nevills at 171) and two wrestlers place third (Juan Salas at 130 and Taylor Ferguson at 215) as all 14 finished sixth or better.

"I'm pretty pleased with our kids," said Cougars coach Steve Tirapelle, who had Jonas Gaytan (112) and Daniel Gaytan (119) battle through colds that forced brief hospital visits for rehydration on Friday to place fifth and sixth in their weight classes Saturday.

The evening's biggest upset came at 145 pounds, where Buchanan's state third-ranked Damien Arredondo beat No. 1 Coleman Hammond of Bakersfield 4-2 in overtime. Hammond's only points came on escapes in the second and third periods, while Arredondo had a reversal to take a 2-1 lead in the second, then scored the winning takedown 8 seconds into sudden death overtime.

"I knew I was the better wrestler," said Arredondo, who improved to 35-4. "I've been training for this, working my butt off in practice, everything I can do to be where I am now."

The five other state top-ranked wrestlers at the Divisional -- Clovis West's Stevan Knoblauch (119), Lemoore's Isaiah Martinez (140), Bakersfield's Bryce Hammond (160), Clovis West's Nikko Reyes (171) and Clovis' Nick Nevills (285) all lived up to their billing.

Knoblauch held off Tri-River Athletic Conference rival Javier Gasca of Central 7-6 in the final.

"I try not to get too confident and take it one match at a time," Knoblauch said. "I just want to keep on winning."

Martinez improved to 38-0, scoring his third straight technical fall -- a win by 15 or more points that stops the match -- of the tournament in the finals, 17-2 over Clovis' Brady Bersano.

"That's my style: attack, attack, attack," said Martinez, who won state bronze at 125 pounds last season. "You can always score more points and do better. I try to score from every single position."

Reyes had perhaps the toughest battle for a state No. 1, getting a takedown in the final seconds to pull away from state No. 2 Zach Nevills of Clovis, 5-2, in the fourth meeting of the season between TRAC rivals.

"The way other people are wrestling me, they are more defensive," said Reyes, who is 3-1 vs. Nevills this season and 38-0 vs. everyone else. "I have to push myself beyond what I've done before to score. And I know that's how it's going to be the next two weeks."

Clovis' Nick Nevills, who is seeking to become the heaviest freshman to ever win a state title, overcame state No. 4 Steven Wood of Lemoore, 3-2 in overtime in the final. Nevills praised the coaching of Tirapelle, and assistants Adam Tirapelle and Ben Holscher, for his success.

"They told me if I worked hard, I'd be able to do these things," Nevills said. "I've just got to keep improving.

Porterville had three individual champions in Mason Pengilly (103), Shane Yacuta (135) and David Ali (215), while Clovis North's Vince Rodriguez (125) also captured a title.

Yacuta, who's ranked second in the state at 135, was the tournament's outstanding lower weight wrestler, scoring three falls and a major decision.