Clovis wrestlers redefine dominance on the mat, win record 10th state title
BAKERSFIELD — Clovis High is running out of records to break at the CIF State Wrestling Championships.
Behind individual champions Daniel Gaytan and Zach Nevills, the Cougars concluded two days of brilliant wrestling Saturday at Rabobank Arena by setting the all-time scoring mark at 256.5 points and crowning the most medalists (10) in the 40-year history of the event.
Clovis finished a whopping 127 points ahead of second-place Bakersfield and had eclipsed the Drillers’ 2002 team scoring mark of 226.5 before the third- through eighth-place medal matches started.
It’s the Cougars’ second straight state title and 10th overall, extending their own record. Bakersfield held the old record for total medalists with nine in 2002.
In addition to their champions, the Cougars saw Julian Gaytan (sixth at 106), Jonas Gaytan (second, 113), Vicente Hernandez (eighth at 126), Jason Ladd (fifth at 138), Adrian Salas (fourth at 160), Ryan Davies (third at 182), Dakota Gordon (second, 195) and Nick Nevills (third at 285) earn medals.
Julian Gaytan, Daniel Gaytan, Hernandez, Ladd, Zach Nevills, Davies and Gordon all outperformed their state ranking heading into the tournament.
“What Bakersfield did [in 2002] seemed unattainable,” Clovis coach Steve Tirapelle said. “But we had what I’d call a Disneyland weekend. The kids wrestled hard and to their abilities, and in some cases over their ability. It was pretty special.”
Daniel Gaytan became the Cougars’ 24th state champion, upsetting top-ranked Hermilo Esquivel of Orland 3-2 in the final for his second straight title.
Gaytan, the champ at 119 last season and a four-time state medalist, scored a takedown in the final 1:03 for the match-winning points. He had lost to Esquivel 10-9 at the Zinkin Classic.
“This means the world to me,” Gaytan said. “I’ve worked my entire life for this. I learned from my past experience [against Esquivel]. I just corrected some things, and it came out well.”
Zach Nevills also joined the list of 25 previous four-time medalists by capturing his first title, a 7-5 decision over rival Silas Nacita of Bakersfield, the wrestler he entered 3-3 against over the past two years.
“There’s no feeling to describe this,” Nevills said. “I’ve been working for this match all season. Silas is a great competitor. We’ve battled all year.”
Clovis was extremely close to having four individual champions as Jonas Gaytan, who entered top-ranked in the state, lost an early 2-1 lead during a 5-4 loss to Live Oak’s Isaiah Locsin at 113, while Gordon fell 3-1 to Oak Hills’ top-ranked Robert Marchese on a takedown with 5 seconds left in overtime at 195.
The Cougars went a collective 56-21 on the weekend with bonus points in 30 matches, including 27 falls.
Even Clovis’ wrestlers who didn’t place — Matt Gay (132), Colby Thompson (152) and Matt Weiss (220) all contributed at least six points to the record.
“This record was about pushing to get the most out of themselves,” assistant Adam Tirapelle said. “Being a champion is getting as high as you can.”
Davies put Clovis over the top with his 2-0 win over Ripon’s Trevor Smith in the consolation semifinals. Every point the Cougars scored from there was gravy.
“We had guys pulling through and beating guys that on paper we had a disadvantage against,” Davies said. “Great stuff happened all around. What’s really special isn’t the record, but the effort everyone put in to get it.”
By Nick Giannandrea