Brock Moore has taken his Pleasant Grove, Utah, wrestling program to the nation’s most prestigious tournaments.
That includes The Walsh Iron Man in Ohio, the Beast of the East in Delaware and the Reno Worlds.
But the Doc Buchanan Invitational – which will draw 28 nationally ranked wrestlers, 29 reigning state champions and three of the country’s top five teams to Clovis High on Friday and Saturday – tops them all, Moore said.
“He was telling Adam (Tirapelle, a Clovis assistant) that they come to the Doc because it’s way tougher than all those other tournaments,” Cougars head coach Steve Tirapelle said. “We take pride in that. Our goal is to put on great competition and make it an event.”
29 Reigning state champions, representing seven states, in the Doc Buchanan Invitational
The 39th Doc Buchanan, which launches at 9:30 a.m. Friday and continues at 9 a.m. Saturday with the semifinals at 10:15 a.m. and the finals scheduled for 5 p.m., has become the marquee tournament on the West Coast.
At least one nationally ranked wrestler is expected to compete in 11 of the 14 weight classes, led by Flo Wrestling’s top-ranked 126-pounder Nick Suriano of Bergen Catholic-New Jersey and No. 2 120-pounder Justin Mejia of Clovis.
Nine other national top-six wrestlers are in the field, including Clovis’ Josh Hokit (No. 6 at 195), AJ Nevills (No. 6 at 220) and Seth Nevills (No. 6 at 285).
The tournament also features most of the top wrestlers from California: 46 of the 70 ranked among the top five and 13 of the 14 No. 1s. There are at least two top-three competitors in all but the 113-pound division, which showcases No. 1 David Campbell of Mission Oak and No. 6 Jaden Abas of Frontier.
“This tournament is probably the toughest in the U.S. round for round,” Steve Tirapelle said. “There is just not any fluff. The kids are really good all the way through.”
This tournament is probably the toughest in the U.S. round for round. There is just not any fluff.
Clovis wrestling coach Steve Tirapelle on the 39th Doc Buchanan Invitational
Teams entered are headlined by national Nos. 3-5 in Bergen Catholic, Buchanan and Clovis, respectively, and 13 of the top 16 in California, including No. 3 Bakersfield with nationally ranked Navonte Demison (No. 9 at 132) and JJ Figeroa (No. 19 at 138) and No. 4 San Marino with Zander Wick (No. 4 at 145) and Evan Wick (No. 4 at 152).
Bergen Catholic brings six nationally ranked competitors, led by Suriano and Shane Griffith (No. 3 at 138), while Buchanan is led by No. 10 132-pounder Durbin Lloren.
The Doc Buchanan will be the first time rivals Buchanan and Clovis will compete together since the Bears ended a six-year losing streak to the Cougars by winning the Zinkin Classic on Dec. 19. Buchanan hadn’t beaten Clovis, the five-time reigning state champion, in a tournament or dual meet since finishing ahead of the Cougars at the CIF State Championships in 2009.
The Bears also won the Clash XIV in Minnesota on Jan. 2, a dual-match tournament in which Buchanan defeated three other nationally ranked teams (No. 9 St. Edwards-Ohio, No. 11 Oak Park River Forest-Illinois and No. 12 Tuttle-Oklahoma) en route to the title.
“Our confidence is high, and that’s something you can’t coach,” said Buchanan coach Troy Tirapelle, Steve’s son. “Winning Zinkin was a big deal, and carrying that to Minnesota and winning that was a huge deal for us. Clovis has been so dominant. Even though you tell your kids they can beat them, until it’s actually done, saying it and truly believing it are not always the same thing. Now you are hoping that momentum takes you to the next level.”
Clovis has been so dominant. Even though you tell your kids they can beat them, until it’s actually done, saying it and truly believing it are not always the same thing. Now you are hoping that momentum takes you to the next level.
Buchanan wrestling coach Troy Tirapelle, whose Bears topped Clovis for the first time since 2009 at the Zinkin Classic on Dec. 19
The tournament’s namesake, the late Floyd “Doc” Buchanan, will be honored with a seven-minute video tribute before the finals.
Clovis also will dedicate its new 54-foot-by-54-foot championship mat – the largest ever made by Resilite, the official mat of the NCAA Championships – to the former Clovis Unified superintendent, who was a central figure at the tourney while handing out its unique prize, a cowboy hat, to the champions every year.
Doc Buchanan Invitational
- Friday: 9:30 a.m., quarterfinals at 4 p.m.
- Saturday: 9 a.m., semifinals at 10:15 a.m. and finals at 5 p.m.