‘Tis the season for Candy Cane Lane, strolls down beautifully lit Old Town Clovis and gallons upon gallons of piping hot cocoa. Well, maybe not that much piping hot cocoa but you get the picture. But it’s also time for winter sports in the TRAC: Wrestling, soccer and basketball.
Oh, and I’m not ashamed to say that it’s also time for a new Star Wars movie. Yes! And I’m not alone in this sentiment – I’ve talked to many a TRAC coach who’s a secret Star Wars nerd…..ahem……fan like me. The adventures of a galaxy far, far, away and the continuing story of Luke, Han, Leia, Chewbacca and of course R2-D2 and C-3PO signal a new chapter, just as a new chapter of sports has arrived. (See how I tied that in? Clever, don’t you think?)
So as you’re singing yuletides and gathering the family round the TV for another round of the movie A Christmas Story, remember that somewhere a TRAC team is preparing for the next wrestling match, playing in an out-of-valley basketball tournament, or kicking a soccer ball around.
Now where did I park my X-wing to go check out some games?
Clovis East boys basketball take on Vegas
For the third year in a row, the Clovis East boys basketball program took a trip to the city that never sleeps – Las Vegas.
This was no crap shoot, as the Timberwolves went 4-1 in the tournament and a third place finish in the tough 20-team tournament, pleasing head coach Adrian Wiggins.
“I was very happy how our team competed on defense and how we shared the ball on offense,” said Wiggins who praised the play of senior Trey Semien (All-Tournament, 20.5 points per game) and Spencer Matthes.
They ‘Wolves opened up the tournament with a 73-67 victory over Palo Verde of Las Vegas and ran Coral Academy of Science out of the gym with a 67-46 win. Later that day they defeated Legacy of Las Vegas 63-58 behind Semien’s 26 points.
But then they ran into one of the top ranked teams in the state of Nevada in Centennial in the semi-finals, losing 69-41. Matthes led Clovis East with 14 points before beating Mojave 66-54 in the third place game.
Semien loved the experience and the early season success.
“Vegas was fun, there was definitely a lot of competition there,” said Semien, also a standout quarterback. “We played really well and better than I thought we would actually play.”
Coach Wiggins, who guided his team to a TRAC title in 2014, see competition like this as a precursor to the tough league season.
“Our main goal this preseason is to get better and gain confidence running our system,” Wiggins said. “The TRAC is a very competitive league and we cannot win games in it unless we execute at a high level. Our players know that and we are excited about the challenge.”
Buchanan boys soccer make national waves
Fresh off their hometown Harold S. Young tournament championship, the Buchanan Bears took on the best in the west in the Lotto Sport Western Showcase in San Clemente, Ca, an Empire of soccer giants if you will, in what topdrawersoccer.com describes as “the strongest top-to-bottom field ever assembled for an in-season high school soccer tournament.”
Let’s look at it this way: All eight teams in the tournament are ranked in the top 50 in the nation, including Buchanan at No. 11.
And they came out kicking, beating No. 12 nationally ranked Carlsbad 1-0 behind J.T. Aruda’s goal. Then came the state’s No. 1 and No. 4 nationally Servite, winning in penalty kicks after playing to a 0-0 tie.
And awaiting Buchanan in the finals was the No. 2 ranked team in Arizona, Hamilton High, which Buchanan took care of swiftly and elegantly with a 3-0 slaying. Stephan Morris scored two goals sandwiched between a Jacob Rudolph goal.
Can’t wait for the encore.
Special football opportunity for Clovis West senior
When the Clovis West football team lost to Bullard in the second round of the playoffs, offensive lineman Dalton Garver thought he might get to play in a senior-type All-Star game, one last hurrah before college.
But then the opportunity of a lifetime came knocking on his door.
Garver will hop on a plane and travel 5,918 miles to Milan, Italy in late March, putting on his tourist clothes as well as his football pads for a single game, representing the United States against the Italian National U-19 team.
In total, Garver will be spending eight days touring and practicing, hanging with his new teammates. There were 35 players in all selected – all high school seniors from all over the country – teaming with America Football Worldwide.
“It’s extremely exciting to be able to play and represent my country,” said Garver. “When I first heard about the game I didn’t realize how great of an opportunity it was, but the further I dug, I realized how much of an honor it would be to play in such a great game. It was pretty humbling.”
Garver’s family is planning on meeting him in Italy and joining him during this once-in-a-lifetime event, touring Rome including the Colosseum, Roman Forum, the Pantheon, Vatican City, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica.
“We’re especially proud to know he was selected not only for his football talent, but for his success in the classroom as well,” said Dalton’s father, Tim. “Thus far in Dalton’s football career and since fifth grade, one of us [wife Lisa] has been present at every game, so we knew we all needed to attend this game.”
Sounds like a great gig for sure.
National and state wrestling rankings for Clovis, Buchanan
There were no doubts that Clovis High wrestling would be pre-season ranked No. 1 in the state. In case you haven’t heard, they’ve won back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back California state championships. Yep, that’s five in a row.
The Cougars are also ranked No. 5 in the Nation, according to intermatwrestle.com.
But Buchanan is not far behind in both rankings. In fact, the Bears are ranked No. 2 in the state and No. 8 overall in the Nation.
I suppose it’s not too early to look forward to the mighty dual between the Cougars and the Bears on Thursday, January 28. Perhaps they’ll start lining up early like they will for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
In the Clovis West Shootout on December 12, the Cougars had six gold medalists: Defending state champion Justin Mejia (127), Dylan Martinez (153), Brandon Martino (161), state silver medalist Josh Hokit (196), state silver medalist A.J. Nevills (221), and defending state champion Seth Nevills (285).
A.J. Nevills, the senior, moved up weight class from 182 to 220 this season and didn’t skip a beat a week after football ended.
“I had a lot of fun today getting after it,” said A.J. “Getting to wrestle with my team is always an awesome experience that I’ll never forget.”
And younger brother, Seth, who won the state’s 220 weight division in a perfect last season as a freshman, was itching to get back to the mat.
“I’ve been waiting to compete in a tournament since last year,” Seth said, who doubles as a defensive lineman on the football team. “And just wrestle to the best of my ability and wrestle with intensity.”
Girls’ all-TRAC water polo announced
The two teams that met in the Valley championship game shared some prestigious hardware for the TRAC play.
Clovis West’s Sarah Snyder was voted the league MVP with Coach of the Year honors and Goalie of the Year going to Clovis High’s Noah Minton and Cassidy Crouch. Clovis West and Clovis were co-champions with 9-1 records.
The rest of the all-league first team: Maddie Alexander, Clovis; Ally Clague, Clovis West; Addie Collard, Clovis; Abbey Ervin, Buchanan; Savannah Fitzgerald, Clovis North; Madeline Loggins, Clovis West; Brittany Morris, Clovis East; Georgia Phillips, Clovis North.
Moffet takes third in state cross country
It may seem like a while ago (and it kinda was – November 27 to be exact), but it’s good to recognize one of the state’s best cross country runners in Lauren Moffet of Clovis North.
Moffet, a senior, ran extremely well in the 2015 CIF D-1 Cross Country meet held at Woodward Park besting her personal record by 22 seconds with a time of 17:23.3 placing third overall.
She also beat the school record, held by her sister, Leigh.