By Paul Meadors | Sports Editor
And POOF! Just like that, the winter sports preseason is kaput and it’s time for league action to heat up. The stellar wrestling teams at Buchanan (No. 2 in the nation) and Clovis (No. 6 in the nation) are in top form and performing at an elite level. The Bears dominated at the Zinkin Classic and won the Clash XV in Minnesota. And what about those amazing Clovis West basketball girls, the No. 1 team in Cal-Hi Sports rankings and the No. 1 team in MaxPreps computer rankings? This ain’t no fluke for the Golden Eagles, a team that’s been primed since they were ballin’ on Saturdays in the Little Hoopsters program. The C Dub boys team is tearing it up as well with a 17-1 record under the return of coach Vance Walberg (be sure to check out the boys’ TRAC preview article, pretty please?).
And if you’re down for some outside games played with lots of space to run around, trying to put a ball in the back of a net, you should check out the state’s No. 22 ranked Clovis boys’ soccer team. They’re currently 14-1, looking to dethrone perennial power and defending TRAC and Central Section champion Buchanan (7-4-3). And wow, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen from top to bottom such an outstanding group of girls’ soccer players as this year’s TRAC. The teams have a combined record of 47-11-12. Clovis West, Central and defending D-1 champion Clovis East have only one loss on the season.
Buchanan wrestling wins national tournament in Minnesota
Speaking of nationally ranked teams from the TRAC, the Buchanan Bears wrestling team is as good as there is, evidenced by their performance at the The Clash XV in Rochester, Minnesota on Dec. 30-31.
The Bears, ranked No. 2 in the nation according to InterMat, rode all-tournament selections Matthew Olguin and Ethan Leake in winning their second-consecutive championship at the national level event by going 5-1 overall. The event featured 32 teams from around the country.
The ride to the championship wasn’t easy as Buchanan lost to the No. 24 ranked Park Hill of Missouri 34-31 in the opening round. But, reliance usually wins out, and the defending state championships showed enough mettle in beating No. 4 ranked Lake Highland Prep of Florida 41-18 then smashed No. 3 St. Edward of Ohio 41-17 in the final.
“We just had to wrestle like we knew we were capable of,” head coach Troy Tirapelle said after their team’s rough start. “We came out flat and uninspired the first match, like they were just going to roll over for us; a ‘don’t you know who we are’ type of attitude. I know that it woke us up a bit.”
The Bears received three 6-0 tournaments from Olguin, who won the state title last year at 106 pounds at 120, Leake, another defending state champ at 126 and Cade Belshay at 220 and 285.
Other wrestlers of note for the state’s No. 1 ranked team include: Tristan Zamillpa (145 and 152), Anthony Montalvo (182), Trevor Ervin (182), Joel Romero (152 and 160), Brett Villarreal (138) and Chris Gaxiola, (145 and 152).
TRAC girls ready to open up league play with young talent
With all the deserved accolades the Clovis West girls are getting, it’s easy to forget that Clovis and Clovis North and Buchanan have good, young teams. Clovis is currently 16-2 on the year, Clovis North is 10-6 and features a great crop of young talent and Buchanan is 11-6 and has won five games in a row. Clovis East is 9-9 and Central is 10-6
Clovis North coach Heather Walberg-Long (daughter of Clovis West boys coach Vance Walberg) routinely starts two freshmen in Savannah Tucker and Rowan Hein and two sophomores in Grace Webb and Taylor Pilot. Jordan Brown, a junior and great shooter, rounds out the solid team. The Broncos won two tournaments in December – the Oakmont Invitational in Roseville and the Acalanes Tournament. Three of their six losses were at the very tough Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions, played just after Christmas.
Clovis has the Berry sisters, senior Rachel, who’s attending Fresno Pacific University and 5-foot-10 sophomore Michelle along with sophomore teammate Jasmine Heu. One of the Cougars’ two losses on the year is to Cabrillo 56-51 to Cambrillo in the championship game of the Clovis Cougars New Year’s Classic.
Buchanan is led by super talented senior Jaiden Jones who missed all of last season with a knee injury and returned Dec. 10. The Bears also have senior Janae Mayberry, Anaya Sperling and freshman Morgan Mathis who has started every game.
League begins on Jan. 13 with Clovis North at No. 1 nationally ranked Clovis West, Clovis is at Clovis East and Buchanan at Central.
Adrian Martinez participates in Under Armor Future 50
It’s been a good year for Adrian Martinez of Clovis West as he was recently named the TRAC’s Offensive Player of the Year as a quarterback, set numerous school records including passing touchdowns, total touchdowns and passing yards in a season and he’s a major part of a basketball team that’s currently 17-1 this season. Oh yeah, and he verbally committed to Cal back in November.
Martinez spent part of his Christmas break at the 2018 Under Armour Future 50 Camp in Orlando, Florida on Dec. 31. The four-star junior was one of only eight quarterbacks in high school invited from all over the country, which included the top 50 overall underclassman in the nation. It was a literal best of the best and Martinez more than held his own during his time on the field, working out in front of such NFL greats as Deion Sanders and former Kansas City Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards.
Martinez, at 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, threw the ball extremely well during the one-day camp according to various accounts. Scout.com was on hand to cover the even and had high praise for Martinez: “California commit Adrian Martinez threw some nice deep balls Saturday. He showed great touch, they were tightly spinning in the air and most were in the right spot.”
“It was an amazing experience and I was given the privilege to complete and learn from the best,” said Martinez, who traveled with his family to the Sunshine State. “I really felt that I was just as good if not better than those top guys in the country.”
Other highly-touted quarterbacks invited were sophomore J.T. Daniels from Mater Dei who has already thrown for an amazing 100 touchdown passes in his career, Jack West from Saraland High School in Alabama who is committed to Stanford and Emory Jones from Heard County High School in Georgia who’s verbally committed to Ohio State.