High School Sports

State wrestling: Clovis’ Mejia, Nevills make history as Central Section crowns eight champs

Highlights from the CIF State Wrestling Championships

Clovis High's Justin Mejia wins his fourth championship and Buchanan takes top team honors after the finals March 4, 2017 at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield.
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Clovis High's Justin Mejia wins his fourth championship and Buchanan takes top team honors after the finals March 4, 2017 at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield.

It took 30 years before the CIF State Wrestling Championships crowned its first four-time individual gold medalist.

Clovis High School’s Justin Mejia equaled the most coveted record in California high school wrestling 15 years later with a last-second, 3-2 victory over Selma’s Robert Garcia IV in the 126-pound final Saturday night at Rabobank Arena.

Don’t expect to wait long for the next four-time champ – not the way Mejia’s teammate, junior Seth Nevills, continues to tear through state competition.

Nevills became the fifth wrestler to win titles after his first three seasons and the 23rd three-time champion overall as he and Mejia highlighted a banner performance for the Central Section at the 45th annual state meet. Mejia and Nevills were two of the section’s eight champs and 42 medalists overall.

Buchanan’s Anthony Montalvo and Cade Belshay were gold medalists to help power the Bears to their second straight team title.

Clovis’ Brandon Martino, Lemoore’s Gary Joint, Mission Oak’s Jaden Enriquez and Bakersfield’s Navonte Demison also won individual championships.

State No. 1 and national No. 2 Nevills capped a 37-0, all-pin season by stopping Delhi’s Jesus Flores in 59 seconds during the 285-pound final.

“It’s great,” said Nevills, who pinned his five opponents in a combined 6:17 to help the Cougars finish second as a team to Buchanan. “It’s one of my goals to be a four-timer, and the third time is another step there. So I’m glad I could go out there and do it.”

It’s one of my goals to be a four-timer, and the third time is another step there. So I’m glad I could go out there and do it.

Clovis’ Seth Nevills, who won the 285-pound title to become a three-time state champion

Nevills, who won state titles at 220 pounds as a freshman and 285 as a sophomore, is 127-0 in his career. He equaled his older brother, Penn State standout Nick Nevills, with his third title and pushed the family’s gold medal collection to eight, counting the championships won by older brothers Zach and AJ Nevills.

He’ll not only enter his senior season with an opportunity to join Mejia and Bakersfield’s Darrell Vasquez as four-time champs, but he could go down as the single greatest wrestler, statistically speaking, in state history. Mejia finished his career 168-1, including titles at 106 as a freshman, 113 as a sophomore and 120 as a junior. Vasquez was 201-7 between 1999 and 2002.

“I’ve just got to stay humble, not overlook anyone and take it one match at a time,” Nevills said. “I love wrestling.”

Clovis-Buchanan rivalry renewed

State No. 2 Martino topped Buchanan’s No. 1-ranked Joel Romero 6-3 in the 160-pound final. It was the fifth meeting of the season between the Clovis Unified rivals, and Martino won for the third time while improving to 41-4.

Martino was fifth at 152 last season. “I worked a lot of years for this,” he said, adding Romero “is a great competitor. I take nothing away from him. But I game-planned and wrestled hard for six minutes. I think in past matches I’ve slowed down. And I wasn’t going to do that this match.”

Lemoore’s Joint bounced back from losses in the Masters and Yosemite Divisionals finals the past two weeks that cost him his state No. 1 ranking by winning the 132-pound bracket.

South Valley represented

No. 2 Joint, a two-time Kansas state runner-up who was third at 126 last season, beat Frontier’s No. 4, Elijah Ozuna, 3-0 in the final. He went 6-0 in the tournament with five shutouts.

“It’s been a lifelong dream,” said Joint, 180-16 in his four-year career. “It wasn’t as dominant as I wanted it to be, but only one match I got points scored on me. I was trying to go for a perfect tournament, which kinda sucks I didn’t, but I went 6-0. All that matters is I got the win.”

Mission Oak’s state No. 1 and national No. 19 Enriquez captured his third state medal and first title with a 16-6 major decision over Rancho Buena Vista’s state No. 10 Bernie Truax.

The Michigan State-bound Enriquez missed the postseason last year with a left elbow injury after placing second at 132 in 2015 and fourth at 132 in 2014.

“I just wanted to show my dominance because last year I didn’t get to perform,” said Enriquez, a senior who improved to 45-2 this season and 178-18 in his career. “I should have won it last year. I just wanted to open it up going into college and show everyone in the nation that I’m coming and I’m going to be a threat. I’m going to work harder than ever.”

Bakersfield’s Demison beat Granite Bay’s Jack Ramilia 5-2 in the 145 final for his second state title and fourth medal overall, while Buchanan’s Montalvo topped Oakdale’s Colbey Harlan 5-3 at 182 and teammate Belshay beat De La Salle’s Darryl Aiello 7-4 at 220.

Nick Giannandrea: 559-441-6103, @NickG_FB

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