Around the TRAC: Looking beyond the box scores

The Clovis wrestling team flew to the East Coast and came home with a 7-0 record against seven different schools, including an incredible come-from-behind 30-29 victory over Bergen Catholic, the No. 7 ranked team in the nation. Clovis is ranked six. (Photo contributed)

By Paul Meadors | Sports Editor

What makes high school athletics great? And specifically what makes Clovis Unified a wonderful place to cover and write about sports. Well, for starters, it’s the kids, the students-athletes. Their devotion to the game, their work ethic, their positive attitude, their competitive nature is unmatched. I’ve been involved in athletics all my life as a player, a coach for 23 years and as an athletic director for eight, so it’s fair to say I’ve seen just about everything under the sun. What I love about writing for the Clovis Roundup is that I get to dive deep into each of the five schools and talk to coaches, players and parents and find the stories within the stories. We so often simply look at the names, the stats, the records and the rankings, but what drives the product we see on the field? How often do we know about the countless hours an athlete puts in to perfect his or her craft? How about those long nights shooting the basketball in an empty gym or an outside court? Do we really know the when the cross country runner gets up at 5 a.m. in the freezing cold to put in that extra work?

And what about the relationships built – and I’m not talking only about their teammates but those friendships that are fostered with players from opposing teams. Of course you want to beat your opponent every time you play against them – that’s a given – but in the end we are created to be relational people. How neat is it to see Kendall Milton from Buchanan and Brock Jones from Clovis North lace up the football cleats and play for a U.S. National Team? Those two dudes are going to be battling it out for the next two years but for a single game they’re teammates, cheering for each other’s success. That’s great stuff.

I loved diving deep into the world of Clovis West girls basketball for the big feature article in this issue. I spent tons of hours attending practices, talking to the players and head coach Craig Campbell, watching the games, understanding what makes them tick – and let me tell you – their stories are fascinating. An eclectic group with electric personalities. With all the national attention the girls are getting, all the local news including numerous TV spots, it’s easy to see just the faces and read the names but how did they become just an elite team, who exactly are those girls winning all those basketball games? I hope I was able to give a glimpse of what it’s like to be high school kids who happen to transform into an elite basketball team – and the crazy and loveable relationships that they have with each other.

These stories and more are prevalent throughout the Clovis area, you just have to be on the lookout for them. So remember that behind every great team, every great player and every great coach there’s more than meets the eye, the story beyond the game.

Brent Bailey (left) a quarterback from Clovis North, is attending Fresno State as a priority walk-on. He had an official visit the weekend of Jan. 20-22, and is pictured with new head coach Jeff Tedford and younger brother Carson, a sophomore quarterback also at Clovis North. (Photo contributed)

Brent Bailey takes official visit to Fresno State, committed to walk on

Brent Bailey always wanted to be a Bulldog, and his dreams became more of a reality during the weekend of Jan. 20-22 as the Clovis North quarterback took an official visit to Fresno State, meeting new coaches and a few of his future teammates.

“It was a great weekend,” said Bailey, who maintains a 3.5 GPA. “I really enjoyed meeting all the coaches and spending so much time with Coach DeBoer [new offensive coordinator]. I also really enjoyed meeting a bunch of players with my host.”

Bailey is a dual-threat quarterback who rushed for 958 yards and passed for 2,215 including 29 total touchdowns during his senior season at Clovis North. He’ll be a walk-on, working and learning from  Jeff Tedford, the recently hired head coach for Fresno State. Tedford has built a strong reputation for developing quarterbacks throughout his coaching career including Aaron Rodgers at Cal where he was the head coach for 10 years, Trent Dilfer and David Carr at Fresno State and Akili Smith and Joey Harrington while the offensive coordinator at Oregon.

What stood out to Bailey during his visit was Tedford’s passion and his vision to bring back the tradition of Bulldog football saying: “He’s eager to get this program back quickly to where it once was and take this program to new levels. I’m excited to get to work.”

Brent’s father, Jeff, played quarterback at Fresno State in 1992 so he’s definitely Bulldog Bred. Bailey credits his dad and also his mom, Liz, and brother Carson, currently a sophomore at Clovis North and also a quarterback. He was quick to also thank his coaches and teammates and “all the people throughout Fresno that have been so supportive.”

The move to recruit local football players is a welcome blessing, and Bailey joining the Bulldogs is most welcome indeed. One of the knocks on Tim DeRuyter, who was fired from his head coaching position on Oct 23, was his uninvolvement in the high school scene here in the Central Valley. Tedford has made it known he intends to keep local talent in town and Bailey is a fantastic example of a home grown kid with a bright future.

Clovis wrestling travels to New Jersey, goes 7-0

The Clovis wrestling team boarded a plane to take on some tough hombres on the East Coast, and waiting for them was Bergen Catholic of New Jersey, the nation’s No. 7 squad according to InterMat.

Clovis came in ranked No. 6 in the nation and No. 2 in the state (behind Buchanan), so there was a lot to prove. And what a mighty intense three-day event as the Cougars staged an incredible 30-29 win over Bergen Catholic during a perfect 7-0 trip.

Clovis erased a 22-point deficit over the final five bouts and finished the comeback when freshman Giano Petricelli beat fellow freshman Nick Kayal 2-1 in the final 106-pound bout.

Three-time state champion Justin Mejia was the only winner of the first day’s eight bouts and junior heavyweight Seth Nevills, a two-time state champion and undefeated in his career at 106-0 won by fall.

Clovis needed the straight sweep to beat and sophomore Jacob Good started off with a 7-1 victory over Sage Mosco at 182 pounds. Ruger Wyneken then pinned 51 seconds in at 195, Joey Jaramillo followed with another pin at 220 setting up Nevills’ and Petrucelli’s dramatic victories.

“Our intensity as a team stood out most to me,” said Nevills, who also played football on the offensive line. “We really got after it in our matches, pushed everyone around and got ourselves tired. That’s what makes teams better.”

The Cougars, whose five-year reign on the CIF State Wrestling title was upended by Buchanan last year also beat Delbarton, St. Peter’s Prep, DePaul Catholic, Ramsey, Fair Lawn and Wayne Valley on their trip.

Tess Amundsen of Clovis West drives to the basket against upset-minded Central on Jan. 18 in the team’s 62-58 victory. The Golden Eagles are currently ranked No. 5 in the nation and No. 2 in Cal-Hi Sports latest rankings, starting off league with a perfect 3-0 record. (Photo by Nick Baker)

Clovis West receives scare from Central, girls basketball roundup

The Clovis West girls are receiving most of the headlines, and for good measure. Their accolades are deserving and victories many. A No. 5 national ranking and 18-2 record over elite teams is the proof. But, there was a little bit of doubt swirling after the Golden Eagles struggled in their 62-58 win over Central at home no less. Coming off a 70-44 loss against Centennial of Nevada at the MLK Showcase in Stockton, they struggled for most of the game, getting outrebounded and looking tired, needing a steal and layup from senior Bre’yanna Sanders (24 points) to take the lead for good with 1:41 seconds remaining. In fact, they were down 49-44 entering the fourth quarter.

But the Cal-Hi Sports No. 2 ranked team behind Archbishop Mitty recovered in routing Buchanan 83-33 on Jan. 20 and in a Saturday matinee game against Troy from Fullerton they turned a slight 30-27 lead into a 78-51 rout, outscoring the Warriors 48-24 in the second half. Balanced scoring is a staple of this year’s team and it was on full display as Sanders and Madison Campbell each scored 14. Danae Marquez chipped in with 13 and Megan Anderson and Tess Amundsen scored 12.

Against Buchanan, Clovis West (18-2, 3-0) was led by Anderson (17), Sanders (15), Amundsen (10) and Campbell (9). Campbell returned to action quickly after a fracture was discovered in her right middle finger, an injury that occurred late in the Centennial loss.

The game of the year in the TRAC, though, has to be the Clovis North vs Clovis game on Jan. 17. Down 48-49 Clovis junior Liane Matsunaga hit a 3-pointer in the corner in the closing seconds to lift the Cougars to a rousing 51-49 win over the Broncos to move to 3-0 in league.


Central 62, Buchanan 28

Clovis West 68, Clovis North 27

Clovis 53, Clovis East 33

GAMES ON JAN. 17, 18

Clovis 51, Clovis North 49

Buchanan 60, Clovis East 40

Clovis West 62, Central 58


Clovis West 83, Buchanan 33

Clovis 53 Central 46

Clovis North 76 Clovis East 29