Clovis News: Sports

Clovis High wrestler a unique favorite at state meet

It has never been accomplished in the previous 38 CIF State Wrestling Championships.

In fact, no one has even come close to achieving what Clovis High's Nick Nevills will pursue today and Saturday at Bakersfield's Rabobank Arena.

Nevills enters as the No. 1-ranked 285-pounder by, carrying the favorite's role into the 40-man bracket as he tries to become the first freshman champion of the sport's heaviest weight class.

There have only been six freshmen state champions to date, with the heaviest being Louis Bland of Central Catholic-Modesto when he won at 152 pounds in 2005.

"Nick's a freak," Clovis assistant Adam Tirapelle said. "He's a kid who just has all the little things it takes to be successful at wrestling, be it natural things you are born with or the competitiveness and the perfect build. And he's worked really hard to get where he is. He's not just a lucky guy."

Nevills (43-3) has conquered virtually everything in his path so far this season, winning titles at seven of the nine individual-bracket tournaments he's entered. His only losses have come by scores of 6-5 and 2-1 against Blair Academy-New Jersey's Brooks Black, who is the nation's top-ranked 285-pounder, and a fall when Temecula Valley's Zachary Smith caught Nevills by surprise 17 seconds into the match.

The younger brother of Zach Nevills, last season's 171-pound state runner-up, Nevills has beaten seven of the Top 20 285-pounders, including a 13-5 major decision over Servite's No. 2-ranked Wyatt Baker, a state quarterfinalist last season. Nevills begins his quest for a state title today against Ponderosa's Riley Nooner.

"He's exceeded our expectations so far, and they were pretty high to start with," Tirapelle said. "I know this: Any kid who beats him will have to outwrestle him because he's not going to be afraid of anyone."

Section supremacy

In addition to Nevills, six other Central Section competitors enter the tournament as top-ranked favorites, more than any section in the state, while four of the top 5-ranked teams reside in the wrestling-rich land between Bakersfield and Clovis.

The Central Section is fourth smallest among the 10 in the state, with 462 fewer schools than the Southern Section, 99 fewer than the Sac-Joaquin and 72 fewer than the North Coast.

"Wrestling really stands on its own in the Central Valley," Clovis coach Steve Tirapelle said.

Leading that individual group is Selma 125-pound junior Alex Cisneros, who seeks to become the state's 15th three-time champion after striking gold at 103 and 112 the past two years.

"I feel good," said Cisneros, who has not lost to a wrestler from California during his high school career. "I feel I can win."

Other top-ranked wrestlers include Clovis West's Stevan Knoblauch (119), Bakersfield's Natrelle Demison (130), Lemoore's Isaiah Martinez (140), Bakersfield's Bryce Hammond (160) and Clovis West's Nikko Reyes (171).

"First in the state is just something people call you," Martinez said. "But it's not what people say, it's how you perform."

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