The epic showdown that’s been brewing all year between nationally ranked Buchanan and Clovis didn’t disappoint Friday at the 44th annual CIF State Wrestling Championships.
Buchanan, ranked No. 5 nationally by Intermat, opened a 146-133.5 lead on No. 9 Clovis after the opening night at Rabobank Arena. Poway was in third with 81 points, followed by Gilroy (73) and Selma (59.5).
Buchanan, which advanced seven to the semifinals, is chasing a second state title, while the Cougars, who had five reach the semis, are out for a sixth straight and 14th overall, both state records.
In all, the Central Section had 23 wrestlers reach the semifinals and have 29 more alive in the consolation bracket heading into Saturday’s action, which begins at 9 a.m. The finals are set for 7:30 p.m.
“Both of our coaching staffs know it’s going to come down to bonus points,” said Buchanan’s Durbin Lloren, who reached the 132-pound semifinal with a 7-3 victory over Elk Grove’s Kalani Tonge. “Whoever can get that going will win this tournament.”
Buchanan went 40-6 with bonus points in 27 matches while losing one of its 13 qualifiers. Clovis went 38-13 with bonus points in 23 matches while losing four of its tournament-best 14 qualifiers.
“It’s going to be a fight, but I think we can come out on top,” said the Cougars’ Justin Mejia, who reached the 120 semis as he seeks to become the state’s fourth wrestler to capture state titles as a freshman, sophomore and junior.
In addition to Lloren, the Bears moved Matt Olguin (106), Ethan Leake (113), Joel Romero (138), Abner Romero (160), Anthony Montalvo (182) and Zakary Levatino (220) on to the semifinals, which begin at approximately 9:30 a.m.
Olguin, Lloren, Leake, Abner Romero and Montalvo all performed to expectations as state top-three ranked competitors. Joel Romero (No. 11) and Levatino (No. 11) each exceeded their rankings by The California Wrestler and guaranteed themselves a top-six finish.
“This is a dream come true, that’s for sure,” said Levatino, who will meet Vacaville’s No. 8-ranked Jake Levengood in the semifinals. “It’s the state tournament – anything can happen. You’ve just got to have a good tournament when you need it.”
Buchanan did have two No. 3-ranked wrestlers – Greg Gaxiola at 145 and Cade Belshay at 170 – fall into the consolation bracket, where they need to win their openers Saturday to remain alive and earn themselves a top-eight medal.
“It’s going to be close, but I think we’ve got this,” Levatino said.
Lloren is looking to add to the 120-pound gold he won last year. He’s already assured himself a fourth career state medal by going 4-0, earning bonus points in three matches.
“I was hoping for a little more, but ultimately I got the wins, so that’s good,” Lloren said.
For Clovis, four of its five semifinalists are top-ranked in the state in Mejia, Josh Hokit (182), AJ Nevills (195) and Seth Nevills (220). The Cougars’ other semifinalist, Brandon Martino (152), is No. 3. Seth Nevills was the 220-pound champ last season, while Hokit and AJ Nevills were runner-ups.
“I’m just trying to get as many bonus points as I can for my team,” said sophomore Seth Nevills, who improved to 44-0 on the season and 88-0 in his career with two pins then a 4-1 decision over Ukiah’s Nicolas Iversen in the quarterfinals. “I tried to get some in (the quarterfinals), but he didn’t let me. Props to him for that.”
Mejia (36-0) did his part to help keep the Cougars close in the team race by winning all four of his matches with bonus points.
“I thought I wrestled pretty good,” said Mejia, who won state titles at 106 pounds as a freshman and 113 as a sophomore. “I’m feeling pretty good about tomorrow. I just need to open my matches up and not let them keep it close.”
Other Central Section competitors earning spots in the semifinals: Clovis North’s Eric Rivera at 106; Dinuba’s Isaiah Perez, Frontier’s Jaden Abas and Selma’s Robert Garcia at 120; Lemoore’s Gary Joint and Mission Oak’s David Campbell at 126; Dinuba’s Jacob Wright and Bakersfield’s Navonte Demison at 138; Selma’s Ruben Garcia at 145; Foothill’s Adrian Godinez at 195; and Frontier’s Jarrod Snyder at heavyweight.
CIF STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS
Central Section semifinalists
- 106: Eric Rivera, Clovis North; Matt Olguin, Buchanan
- 113: Ethan Leake, Buchanan
- 120: Justin Mejia, Clovis; Isaiah Perez, Dinuba; Jaden Abas, Frontier; Robert Garcia, Selma
- 126: Gary Joint, Lemoore; David Campbell, Mission Oak
- 132: Durbin Lloren, Buchanan
- 138: Jacob Wright, Dinuba; Navonte Demison, Bakersfield; Joel Romero, Buchanan
- 145: Ruben Garcia, Selma
- 152: Brandon Martino, Clovis
- 160: Abner Romero, Buchanan
- 182: Anthony Montalvo, Buchanan
- 182: Josh Hokit, Clovis
- 195: AJ Nevills, Clovis
- 195: Adrian Godinez, Foothill
- 220: Zakary Levatino, Buchanan
- 285: Seth Nevills, Clovis
- 285: Jarrod Snyder, Frontier
- 106: Izzak Olejnik, Bakersfield; Josh Cisneros, Selma; Brandon Betancourt, Clovis
- 113: Javier Alaniz, Clovis West; Wyatt Cornelison, Clovis
- 120: Anthony Chavez, Central
- 126: Chris Deloza, Clovis North; Adrian Marrufo, Dos Palos; Brett Villarreal, Buchanan
- 132: Tony Mendoza, Selma
- 138: Bobby Miguel, Clovis West; Dylan Martinez, Clovis
- 145: Greg Gaxiola, Buchanan; Beau Bradley, Monache
- 152: James Quintana, Clovis East
- 160: Jonathan Herrera, Golden Valley; Victor Vargas, Clovis; Sam Loera, Bakersfield
- 170: Antonio Gutierrez, Bakersfield; Cade Belshay, Buchanan; Ryan Reyes, Clovis West
- 182: Noah Rodriguez, Bakersfield; Angel Solis, Lemoore
- 195: Trevor Ervin, Buchanan
- 220: Hunter Parks, Hanford; Tyler Collier, Clovis; Bevan Brandt, Bullard
- 285: Gilbert Varela, Independence; Ricky Garcia, Reedley