And well-equipped for another run at the CIF State Wrestling Championship.
After playing second fiddle to rival Buchanan High School all season, Clovis re-emerged as the Central Section’s – and perhaps the state’s – most powerful squad, winning a ninth consecutive Masters title Saturday at Lemoore High.
The Cougars, who finished behind the Bears at the Zinkin Classic, Doc Buchanan, Tri-River Athletic Conference and Yosemite Divisional tournaments as well as in a dual this season, outscored Buchanan 270-245 while qualifying all 14 of its wrestlers to the state meet Friday and Saturday at Bakersfield’s Rabobank Arena.
Bakersfield was third with 114 points, followed by Selma (101.5), Frontier (79), Clovis West (78.5) and Clovis North (75.5).
“We just needed to wait it out until the competition is a little tougher,” said Cougars senior AJ Nevills, who beat Foothill’s Adrian Godinez 9-2 in the 195-pound final. “It made it easier for our better guys to shine.”
Five-time defending state champion Clovis had a nearly insurmountable lead entering the finals, where it crowned four other individual winners in addition to Nevills.
Justin Mejia, a two-time state champion, scored a 16-4 major decision over Frontier’s Jaden Abas at 120. Brandon Martino earned an 11-0 major decision over Clovis West’s Chris Lane at 152. Josh Hokit beat Buchanan’s Anthony Montalvo 13-6 at 182. And Seth Nevills improved to 41-0 with a 3-1 defeat of Frontier’s Jarrod Snyder in a showdown of the state’s top ranked 285-pounders.
“I’m glad we got it done this weekend,” Mejia said. “We wrestled hard. I think we are going to get it done. We work too hard to keep this tradition going.”
The Cougars had a runner-up in Brandon Betancourt (106) and third-place finishers in Wyatt Cornelison (113), Jordan Geiger (132), Dylan Martinez (138) and Ruger Wyneken (170) as they seek a record-extending 14th state title.
“Our kids have been progressing and kept getting better,” Cougars coach Steve Tirapelle said. “That’s the whole idea. We got a solid team effort. It shows the type of character they have.”
Buchanan advanced 13 to the state meet, including Masters champions Matthew Olguin (106), Ethan Leake (113), Durbin Lloren (132), Abner Romero (160) and Cade Belshay (170). The Bears had nine finalists, including runners-up Brett Villarreal (126), Greg Gaxiola (145), Anthony Montalvo (182) and Zakary Levatino (220).
Lloren will be aiming for his second consecutive state title after winning at 120 last season and his fourth state medal overall.
Individually, Lemoore’s Gary Joint, a transfer from Kansas, continued to make his presence felt in the section and state by winning the 126-pound title with a 5-2 decision over Villarreal. Joint rose to the No. 1 state ranking after winning the Yosemite Divisionals title Feb. 20.
“I was trying to dominate this tournament,” Joint said. “I want to keep my No. 1 ranking in state and lock up the top seed in the state tournament. I feel like I’m hitting my peak at the right time. A champion has to find a way to win, and that’s what I plan to do.”
Selma’s Ruben Garcia will chase a third state medal (he was sixth at 138 and 132 the past two seasons) after capturing his second Masters title with a 6-5 come-from-behind victory over Gaxiola at 145 pounds. Garcia’s takedown with 12 seconds left gave him his only lead.
“I’m very proud,” Garcia said. “I feel very accomplished. I worked my butt off for this. I’m looking to dominate all the way to the (state) finals. I’m very prepared.”
And Bullard’s Bevan Brandt looks to better his state runner-up finish from last season after winning his first Masters title with a 7-3 decision over Levatino at 220 pounds. Brandt got pinned in 3:00 by then-freshman sensation Seth Nevills in last year’s state final.
“There have been some ups and downs this season, but I’m glad to make it back to state,” Brandt said. “Now I’m hoping to get gold. I’m tired of silver in my house.”
Central Section Masters
106: Matthew Olguin, Buchanan, maj. d. Brandon Betancourt, Clovis, 10-1
113: Ethan Leake, Buchanan, d. Javier Alaniz, Clovis West, 12-6
120: Justin Mejia, Clovis, maj. d. Jaden Abas, Frontier, 16-4
126: Gary Joint, Lemoore, d. Brett Villarreal, Buchanan, 5-2
132: Durbin Lloren, Buchanan, d. Tony Mendoza, Selma, 9-4
138: Navonte Demison, Bakersfield, d. Jacob Wright, Dinuba, 3-1 (OT)
145: Ruben Garcia, Selma, d. Greg Gaxiola, Buchanan, 6-5
152: Brandon Martino, Clovis, maj. d. Chris Lane, Clovis West, 11-0
160: Abner Romero, Buchanan, p. Sam Loera, Bakersfield, 4:35
170: Cade Belshay, Buchanan, d. Ryan Reyes, Clovis West, 4-2
182: Josh Hokit, Clovis, d. Anthony Montalvo, Buchanan, 13-6
195: AJ Nevills, Clovis, d. Adrian Godinez, Foothill, 9-2
220: Bevan Brandt, Bullard, d. Zakary Levatino, Buchanan, 7-3
285: Seth Nevills, Clovis, d. Jarrod Snyder, Frontier, 3-1
Top 10 in each weight class advance to the CIF State Championships on Friday and Saturday in Bakersfield
106: 3rd, Eric Rivera, Clovis North, d. Cole Reyes, Frontier, 11-4; 5th, Josh Cisneros, Selma, p. Mario Moreno, Madera, 1:06; 7th: Thomas Terrence, Clovis East, d. Izzak Olejnik, Bakersfield, injury default; 9th, Matt Sanchez, Central, d. Erik Olea, Exeter, 9-6.
113: 3rd, Wyatt Cornelison, Clovis, tech fall Robert Areyano, Selma, 16-0; 5th, Anthony Pacheco, Sanger, maj. d. Ryan Morphis, Frontier, 14-1; 7th, Rocky Beckett, Clovis North, d. Daniel Briseno, Washington, 6-3; 9th, Mario Birrueta, Wasco, p. Jared Callison, Monache, 1:11.
120: 3rd, Isaiah Perez, Dinuba, d. Chris Gaxiola, Buchanan, 7-2; 5th, Robert Garcia, Selma, p. Anthony Chavez, Central, 0:48; 7th, Matt Diaz, Clovis North, p. Matt Bracamonte, Foothill, 4:53; 9th, Brock Rogers, Corcoran, d. Ruben Gonzalez, Sanger, 3-1 (OT).
126: 3rd, David Campbell, Mission Oak, p. Adrian Marrufo, Dos Palos, 0:52; 5th, Chris Deloza, Clovis North, p. Abraham Del Toro, Madera, 0:45; 7th, Peter Corona, Independence, maj. d. Zackary Bedrosian, Coalinga, 10-1; 9th, Brandon Rhoads, Clovis, d. Isaiah Walls, Clovis West, 7-1.
132: 3rd, Jordan Geiger, Clovis, d. Isaac Perez, Porterville, prior result; 5th, Marco Hernandez, Kennedy, d.. Niko Peturcelli, Clovis North, 6-2; 7th, Armando Pimentel, Dos Palos, p. Issac Espinoza, Madera South, 1:44; 9th, Aaron Watts, Redwood, p. Moses Contreras, Madera, 0:46.
138: 3rd, Dylan Martinez, Clovis, d. Bobby Miguel, Clovis West, 3-1; 5th, Joel Romero, Buchanan, p. Esteban Corona, Independence, 1:04; 7th, Oscar Diaz, Selma, d. Manuel Gamboa, Cesar Chavez, 5-0; 9th, Deondre Eason, Washington, d. Seth Garcia, Strathmore, injury default.
145: 3rd, Beau Bradley, Monache, p. Dillon Cravens, Bakersfield, 4:21; 5th, Isaiah Torres, Redwood, d. Jake Ladd, Clovis, criteria; 7th, Issak Espana, Clovis West, d. Chance Benadum, Dos Palos, 8-6; 9th, Augustine Garcia, Madera South, maj. d. Skyler Huskey, El Diamante, 11-2.
152: 3rd, Jonathan Garcia, Frontier, d. Ricky Gonzalez, Bakersfield, 6-2; 5th, Mark Cardwell, Monache, d. James Quintana, Clovis East, prior result; 7th, Jonathan Ramos, Selma, d. Tanner Jones, Exeter, injury default; 9th, Jake Levatino, Buchanan, p. Alex DelBosque, Dinuba, 1:35.
160: 3rd, Jonathan Hunter, Golden Valley, d. Victor Vargas, Clovis, 6-4; 5th, Dylan Miracle, Madera South, d. Dawson Boland, Exeter, injury default; 7th, Isaiah Corona, Hanford, d. Jordan Stanley, Central, injury default; 9th, Joey Sandoval, Porterville, d. Ivan Sevilla, Coalinga, 3-1.
170: 3rd, Ruger Wyneken, Clovis, d. Marcus Macias, Central, injury default; 5th, Antonio Gutierrez, Bakersfield, d. Erick Moreno, Sunnyside, injury default; 7th, Nick Maiden, Stockdale, d. Chris Chapa, Madera, injury default; 9th, Christian Rodriguez, Selma, d. Santana Ruiz, Fowler, 8-1.
182: 3rd, Angel Solis, Lemoore, d. Noah Rodriguez, Bakersfield, 6-0; 5th, Jeremy Maas, Liberty-Bakersfield, d. Jacob Good, Exeter, injury default; 7th, Mark Halajian, Clovis North, p. Josh English, Selma, 5:55; 9th, Nathan Chavez, Madera South, d. Isaiah Martin, Garces, 4-3.
195: 3rd, Elias Rosales, Bakersfield, d. Kobe Rosas, Coalinga, 9-3; 5th, John Halajian, Clovis North, d. Fabian Ramirez, Central, injury default; 7th, Trevor Ervin, Buchanan, d. Ty Muxlow, Kingsburg, injury default; 9th, Eric Chicas, Firebaugh, d. Jacob Lightner, Kern Valley, injury default.
220: 3rd, Ramiro Macias, Kennedy d. Tyler Collier, Clovis, prior result; 5th, Nathaniel Holloway, Clovis North, p. Montana Torres, South, 3:32; 7th, Hunter Parks, Hanford, d. Angel Mariscal, Delano, injury default; 9th, Miguel Villanueva, Madera South, p. Manuel Madrid, Corcoran, 2:26.
285: 3rd, Bubba Varela, Independence, d. Armando Barcenas, Hanford, 8-4; 5th, Rogi Alvarez, Selma, d. Ricardo Jaramillo, Golden Valley, injury default; 7th, Anthony Perez, Exeter, d. Ricky Garcia, Reedley, injury default; 9th, Brett Schuler, Bakersfield Christian, p. Hercules Ortiz, Caruthers, 1:40.
Team: 1. Clovis 270; 2. Buchanan 245; 3. Bakersfield 114; 4. Selma 101.5; 5. Frontier 79; 6. Clovis West 78.5; 7. Clovis North 75.5; 8. Central 42; 9. Lemoore 40; 10. Dinuba 36; 11. Independence 29; T12. Exeter 27; T12. Foothill 27; T12. Golden Valley 27; T12. Hanford 27; T12. Monache 27; 17. Bullard 22; 18. Dos Palos 21.5; 19. Kennedy 21; 20. Mission Oak 20; T21. Clovis East 18; T21. Madera 18; 23. Coalinga 17; T24. Porterville 12; T24. Redwood 12; T26. Liberty 11; T26. Madera South 11; 28. Sanger 10; 29. South 9; T30. Delano 6; T30. Reedley 6; T32. Stockdale 5; T32. Sunnyside 5; 34. Kern Valley 4; T35. Kingsburg 3; T35. Washington 3; T37. Cesar Chavez 2; T37. Strathmore 2.