Heading into the Zinkin Classic, the defending state champion Buchanan Bears knew they were going to have to go through some of the top teams in California including crosstown rival Clovis in order to come out on top.
But the Bears did just that and more – taking home first place with a team score of 317 with the Cougars, (265.5), Gilroy (173), Frontier (129) and Oakdale 127 rounding out the top 5.
“It’s an early season tournament and there’s still mistakes being made,” said Buchanan head coach Troy Tirapelle. “The biggest thing for us is going out, competing and running a good event – it’s really hard to do both those things at the same time.”
Paving the way for the Bears were their seven first place finishers of Matthew Olguin (120 lbs.), Ethan Leake (126 lbs.), Brett Villarreal (145 lbs.), Joel Romero (152 lbs.), Anthony Montalvo (182 lbs.) Trevor Ervin (195 lbs.) and Cade Belshay (220 lbs.).
“We start fast and we finish strong – that’s just Buchanan wrestling,” said Montalvo, who won his first-place match via a first-round pin, of the team’s mentality.
Moving forward, Tirapelle wants to see his Bears improve fundamentally as they navigate through these early season tournaments.
“We always want to fix technique and the biggest thing our guys have to buy into – and the only way we can do that against stiff competition is through intensity and effort,” Tirapelle said. “Too many times they think that because they’re doing the move right it’s suppose to work . It may not work even if you do it 100 percent right. It’s about who can get to the next move. Eventually, someone’s going to give up, and hopefully it’s not us.”
Up next, Bears travel to Rochester, Minnesota to compete in The Clash XV (Dec. 30-31) before coming back home for the prestigious Doc Buchanan Invitational (Jan. 6-7), hosted by Clovis High.