Boys wrestling: Locals snare Masters titles in prep for state meet
VISALIA — Adrian Camposano, Mason Pengilly, Isaiah Martinez, Adrian Salas, Sean Medley and Nick Nevills will be among the hunted individually.
Those six are the wrestlers to beat in their respective weight classes after emerging as champions at Saturday’s Central Section Masters tournament at Mt. Whitney High.
They are all state top-ranked and gold medalists from California’s toughest wrestling section heading into the CIF State Championships on March 1-2 at Bakersfield’s Rabobank Arena.
“I use that as motivation knowing I have the target on my back,” said Central’s Camposano, who defeated Buchanan’s state No. 9-ranked Durbin Lloren 13-2 in the 106-pound final. “I like the attention. It will make me work harder. I want to give the people a show.”
Pengilly emerged as one of the section’s two undefeated wrestlers on the season after defeating Exeter’s No. 6 Arnulfo Olea 4-0 in the 120-pound final. Pengilly, fifth in the state at 113 last year, is 35-0.
“Being No. 1 is just a number,” Pengilly said. “I haven’t proven I’m the best yet. I’ve got to prepare to wrestle to the best of my ability to be a state champion. I can’t take any opponent lightly.”
Lemoore’s Martinez and Clovis’ Salas and Nevills all made things look easy en route to titles at 160, 182 and 285, respectively.
Martinez became a three-time Masters champ with a third-round 17-4 technical fall over Bakersfield’s No. 11 Hunter Hodges en route to earning MVP upperweight honors.
Salas didn’t even have to break a sweat in his final, getting his second straight injury default win over Bakersfield’s No. 4 Kyle Pope at 182.
Then there was 285-pounder Nevills, who pinned all four of his Masters opponents after registering four pins and a tech in winning the divisional title last week. It took Nevills 2:49 to drop Lemoore’s No. 14 Jonathan Roa, 8 seconds more than last week as he improved to 44-0.
“I feel good and ready to go,” said Nevills, who became the state’s heaviest freshman state champion while winning the 285-pound title in 2011 before setting for third last season. “People are going to want me to lose, that’s just part of wrestling and being at Clovis. But I’m on a mission. I want to be a three-time champ. I don’t feel pressure from other people but from myself because I want to win.”
Wasco’s Medley beat Clovis West’s No. 6 Cortes Morales 9-4 at 220, while the section’s only other wrestler who entered the Masters state top-ranked, Clovis West’s Michael Knoblauch, dropped a 4-3 decision to Frontier’s No. 2 Vincent Gomez in a reversal from last week’s outcome.
Perhaps the section’s hardest charger heading to state is Clovis East’s No. 4 Kyle Perreault, who defeated No. 2 Coleman Hammond of Bakersfield in the finals for a second straight week, this time 3-2 after a stunning pin last week.
“I’m peaking at the right time,” said Perreault, now 42-4. “This is my year.”
Other section individual champions included Lemoore’s Sean Williams (113), Kingsburg’s Javier Gasca (132), Porterville’s Martin Sandoval (138, the lowerweight MVP), Clovis’ Jason Ladd (145), Bakersfield’s Bryce Martin (170) and Washington’s Gabriel Gonzalez (195).
Clovis, meanwhile, will be the favorite to win a third straight state team title — and the school’s 11th overall — after capturing the Masters crown for the sixth consecutive year. The Cougars advanced 12 wrestlers while scoring 201 points, 52 more than second-place Buchanan, which pushed 13 on to state.
Perennial power Poway of the San Diego Section will also have 12 in the field, while Vacaville of the Sac Joaquin Section has 10.
“It will be difficult, but we’ve got as good a shot as anyone,” Cougars coach Steve Tirapelle said.
By Nick Giannandrea