Clovis News: Sports

Buchanan High wrestling coach removed

Tyrell Blanche is out after two seasons as Buchanan High wrestling coach, marking the fifth change at the top for one of the state's most successful wrestling programs since 2007.

Blanche said he was relieved of his duties as coach Monday but remains employed by Buchanan as a campus monitor and an instructional aide in the Special Education program.

Blanche had been on a school-imposed, three-week suspension from coaching following his Feb. 12 ejection from the Tri-River Athletic Conference championship tournament for inappropriate behavior toward a referee that kept him sidelined through the Yosemite Divisional, Central Section Masters and CIF State Championships.

Blanche said he was under the impression he would be allowed to begin the Bears' offseason training program this week before being informed he would not be retained as coach.

He declined further comment.

Buchanan athletic director Chris Hansen referred comment to Clovis Unified spokeswoman Kelly Avants.

It was under Blanche's watch that Buchanan made national news in December when it was revealed senior wrestler Preston Hill had been charged with sexual battery on a freshman teammate over an alleged incident that happened during practice.

Hill maintained he was performing the butt-drag maneuver, a wrestling move taught by his coaches. Hill's accuser said Hill rammed two fingers up his anus during practice.

The criminal case was eventually dismissed, but not before Hill was expelled from Buchanan for sexual battery and bullying. Blanche testified during Hill's expulsion hearing that the butt-drag is a legitimate maneuver in which wrestlers are taught to grab the leg right below the butt cheeks. In matches, he said, anything can happen, even penetration of an opponent's anus.

In a prepared statement, Avants said: "Mr. Blanche's extra duty coaching assignment has ended for the 2010-2011 season and will not be continued for the 2011-2012 season. ... Buchanan High has not yet identified the individual who will be assigned the role of varsity wrestling coach for the 2011-2012 season."

Blanche replaced Hansen as Buchanan's wrestling coach in 2009. Hansen held the job on an interim basis during the 2008-2009 season as a late replacement for C.T. Campbell, who left one year after taking over for Dustin Riley.

Buchanan finished 18th, 18th, second, fifth, third and first in the team standings at the past six state championships.