Buchana High’s third straight CIF state wrestling championship was decided long before state finalists ceremoniously climbed onto the center stage to wrestle for gold at Rabobank Arena on Saturday night.
Thanks to a few sensational upsets and steady nerves under the spotlight, “The Empire” (Buchanan’s nickname thanks to its @BuchananEmpire Twitter page) won two individual titles, eight medals, tallied 219 team points and had the team championship locked up before anyone even won a medal.
“We had a little bit of a down day one (Friday), had some losses, talked to the kids and they regrouped well,” Buchanan coach Troy Tirapelle said. “That’s what champions do. They handled adversity, did much better day two to get the ball rolling and just finished it off.”
Most at Rabobank weren’t keen on a Buchanan repeat. Throughout the tournament, fans would collectively cheer a Buchanan defeat and shower officials with boos when a close call went the Bears’ way.
But not even the noise, second-place Gilroy (180 points) or third-place Poway (171.5) could deny Buchanan its golden destiny.
“It comes with the territory.” Tirapelle said. “The best way you can handle it is to just let (the wrestlers) understand that, hey, whether they are cheering or booing, at least they’re making noise for you.
“That means they know you, they respect you, so enjoy it.”
Some enjoyed it at a faster pace than others.
In navigating a two-day, 40-man bracket, Buchanan senior Anthony Montalvo needed only 4 minutes 57 seconds of mat time to win five matches across two days and reach the 182-pound final. There he outlasted Poway’s Nathan Tausch 5-0 to win a CIF title. Montalvo is a three-time state finalist and two-time champion.
Buchanan freshman Maximo Renteria scored a huge upset in the 113 semifinals when he snared a 5-4 win over national No. 9 Antonio Lorenzo of St. John Bosco-Bellflower, a clear gold medal favorite. In the final, Renteria took immediate command of Aaron Nagao of Esperanza-Anaheim, the No. 3 seed. Renteria went up 7-0 after just one round and won a 9-1 major decision for the championship.
“I have been waiting for this my whole life,” Renteria said. “I just always have been confident in my matches. I go out there with a positive mindset.”
Senior Joel Romero, the No. 3 seed at 160, enjoyed a thrilling semifinal upset after a cradle and pin of Noah Blake, the Del Oro-Loomis wrestler who earned the No. 2 seed by beating Romero earlier this season. Romero lost in the final 3-1 to top seed Josh Kim of Santiago-Corona.
Buchanan was stout throughout the medal rounds.
Senior Ethan Leake (126) and Junior Matthew Olguin (138) both slipped from the championship bracket by decision, but matched their No. 3 seeds by winning consecutive matches to close the season. Leake beat the same wrestler who dropped him to consolation, Gilroy’s Chase Seldate, 3-2 to take bronze. Olguin beat Bullard’s Dawson Sihavong 9-7 to finish third.
Senior Tristan Zamilpa was dispatched to the consolation bracket the second day, but he fought back with four straight victories before losing his last two to finish sixth.
Sophomore Hunter Leake (106) and senior Chris Gaxiola (145) also finished seventh.