13-strong Clovis High wrestling team will chase record
Clovis High will pursue history with more qualifiers, more returning medalists and more state top-eight ranked wrestlers than any of the 263 schools at the CIF State Championships.
The Cougars have wrestlers in 13 of the 14 weight classes, six returning medalists and nine individuals among the state’s top eight entering the 40th annual tournament Friday and Saturday at Bakersfield’s Rabobank Arena.
Defending champion Clovis is seeking to add to its record with a 10th state title, and established the goal of trying to do so with the most points scored by a team in the tournament. Bakersfield set the record of 226.5 in 2002.
“If you don’t have goals and you don’t push yourself to reach further, you stagnate,” Clovis assistant Adam Tirapelle told The Bee in December as the season kicked off. “We’re trying to get the most out of every single kid. If that results in a record, great. If not, at least every single kid pushed as hard as they can go.”
Bakersfield’s record run in 2002 featured four individual champions, three runners-up and two other medalists.
In the Feb. 24 rankings of thecaliforniawrestler.com — the state’s leading authority on high school wrestling — Clovis has five individuals ranked first or second in the state in Jonas Gaytan (No. 1, 113 pounds), Daniel Gaytan (No. 2, 120), Adrian Salas (No. 2, 160), Zach Nevills (No. 1, 170) and Nick Nevills (No. 1, 285).
Daniel Gaytan and Nick Nevills are defending state champions.
The Cougars also have top-eight wrestlers in Matt Gay (No. 6, 132), Colby Thompson (No. 8, 152), Ryan Davies (No. 5, 182) and Dakota Gordon (No. 3, 195).
That’s nine Clovis wrestlers projected to reach the medal podium Saturday, with two others — Vicente Hernandez (126) and Jason Ladd (138) — ranked ninth. The Cougars’ state contingent also features Julian Gaytan (No. 20 at 106) and Matt Weiss (No. 25 at 220).
Clovis’ top competition for the team title appears to be Bakersfield and 25-time defending San Diego Section champion Poway, programs that have won three and four state titles, respectively.
By Nick Giannandrea