Around the TRAC: A real life clash of the titans

Clovis’ Seth Nevills (left) battles Ponderosa’s Cohlton Schultz during their highly anticipated heavyweight bout at the Doc Buchanan Invitational. (Daniel Leon/Clovis Roundup)

Have you ever watched a movie or read a comic book where a superhero is battling a supervillain and their powers are so evenly matched they pretty much cancel each other out? Whatever one throws at the other they skillfully block or evade the maneuver, dodging it with relative ease, trying to counteract it to no avail. Think Green Lantern and Sinestro facing off, their lantern power rings igniting green and yellow energy beams, meeting halfway to a stalemate, hoping to find a chink in the armor.

That scene played out in real life in the heavyweight match at the Doc Buchanan wrestling tournament when Clovis’ Seth Nevills matched up against Cohlton Schultz from Ponderosa-Colorado in a mighty dual for the ages, two wrestlers so skilled they resembled Jedi Knights with an equal amount of mastery on the mat. In one corner there was Nevills, the senior was had never lost a wrestling match in his high school career, a three-time heavyweight state champ, signed to wrestle at Penn State and ranked No. 3 in the nation. In the other corner was Schultz, the nation’s No. 2 ranked heavyweight, a two-time Colorado state champ and a world champion Greco-Roman wrestler.

In the end though, after three two-minute periods and in front of a capacity crowd of over 2,000 in his home gym, the buzzer sounded and a hush came over the crowd, for mighty Nevills had lost 3-2, his first sting of defeat donning the Courared crest of Clovis High. But what a match it was, and it absolutely delivered on all accounts; every move that would work on mere mortals had zero effect, every wrestling move thought ahead of time was counteracted, like two chess masters matching wits. Nevills would try to go low and Schultz would dodge. Dang. Schultz tried to take Nevills down and flip him on his back, like I’m sure he’s done hundreds of times. Nope, that’s not gonna work. True heavyweights in every sense of the word, both still huffing and puffing while standing on the podiums to receive their prize. This was a certainly a match for men, not boys.

One would think that after losing the first wrestling match of your career might cause you to retreat and hang a towel over your head in the locker room or shoo everyone away and drown yourself in a big ‘ol bowl of I’m Feeling Sorry For Myself cereal. But not Nevills. After the event, I watched him take pictures with young fans, hug family members and talk to teammate Giano Petrucelli who was wearing a Doc B cowboy hat, the prized possession given to each winner. Nevills has three of those at home, but this was Petrucelli’s time to shine; wrestling can be such an individual sport, but he understood this moment wasn’t about him when it surely could have been.

Walking back to my car, I trailed a group of Selma wrestlers and coaches and overheard them talk about the match they had just witnessed. They were in awe by the sheer strength and the competitiveness, saying it lived up to the hype. “They didn’t dance around, they went after it,” they said. Yep, everyone knew – from Clovis coaches Steve and Adam Tirapelle to the most respected of wrestling websites – that this was a match not soon forgotten, two superpowers battling for supremacy of the mat.

CW boys place third at Modesto Christian Tournament

Clovis West has had an impressive start to the season, going 17-2 overall and winning two tournaments – the NorCal Tip-Off and their own Nike Invitational, beating San Joaquin Memorial in the process.

However, Clovis West ran into, again, one of the most heraled players in not only the state but in the nation in Memorial’s Jalen Green, and this time the Golden Eagles couldn’t overcome the nation’s No. 1 rated sophomore as they lost 71-66 in the semifinals of the Modesto Christian Holiday Invitational on Dec. 29.

After taking care of Turlock in the opening round, they beat Lincoln 68-66 when freshman Cole Anderson grabbed a missed shot and made a reverse layup as the buzzer sounded. Then in front of a near capacity crowd against Memorial, Green showed why he will be one of the nation’s top recruits, pouring in 46 points in a dazzling display of slashing, shooting threes and highlight reel dunking. Brandon Recek scored 18 while Anderson and Dante Chachere each scored 13.

Clovis West, the state’s No. 11 team according to MaxPreps, responded the next evening, beating Tracy 80-56 behind Anderson’s 26 and Recek’s 19. Both were named to the all-tournament team.

Buchanan also participated in the tournament and went 1-3, including losing two tough games to St. Joseph Notre Dame 50-49 in the opener and 66-64 to Weston Ranch on the final day.

League play for the Tri River Athletic Conference begins Jan. 12.

Buchanan’s Milton named MaxPreps All-American

Buchanan sophomore running back Kendall Milton was named to the MaxPreps Sophomore All-American team. He ran for 1,514 yards and 23 touchdown in 13 games for the 9-3 Bears. He also holds 11 Division I scholarships. (Paul Meadors/Clovis Roundup)

The football season may be over for Kendall Milton but the accolades and offers keep coming for the sophomore sensation running back as he was recently named to the MaxPreps Sophomore All-American Football Team. He was one of three running backs named to the first team.

Milton, 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, ran for 1,514 yards and 23 touchdowns in 13 games this season as the Bears advanced to the Central Section Division I championship game before losing to Central 29-7. The four-star athlete is considered one of the top recruits in the nation in the class of 2020 for his position.

And, on Jan. 5, he received a scholarship offer from Florida State, bringing his total to 11 Division 1 offers which include USC, UCLA, Washington, Utah, Arizona, Oregon State from the Pac-12 and BYU, Colorado State, San Jose State and Fresno State.

TRAC girls basketball is the talk of the section

Clovis North’s Savannah Tucker has led the Broncos to a state No. 8 ranking and a 16-2 record. She’s averaging close to 20 points per game on the season. (Contributed)

Buckle up fellow sports fans, the girls of the TRAC is must-see basketball this season. It’s difficult to remember a time when so many quality teams will be vying for a league title with Clovis West and Clovis North fielding state level teams and Central and Clovis trotting out excellent squads as well. And Cal-Hi Sports agrees: Clovis North (16-2) is ranked No. 8 in the state and Clovis West (16-3) No. 10.

We are all aware of the remarkable 34-2 season by Clovis West last year – a fifth straight Valley title, a CIF State Open title and No. 1 national ranking – a season for the ages to be sure. Gone are six seniors from that team, five now playing Division I basketball. Under head coach Craig Campbell, they have won 12 straight TRAC titles and eight Valley titles. In fact, they haven’t lost a league game since Feb. 12, 2011.

Clovis North and coach Heather Long is certainly up for the challenge, their only two losses on the season are to Wisconsin’s No. 1 team, King, 60-51 and California’s No. 3 Harvard Westlake 60-55 in the championship game of the Harvard-Westlake Tournament on Dec. 23. Meanwhile, Clovis West participated in the Nike TOC in Arizona and lost 70-62 in the championship game to Gilbert, Arizona’s No. 2 ranked team. Their other two losses are also to King 75-69 (at the Clovis West tournament) and Seton Catholic of Arizona 76-69. So, as you can clearly see, even their losses were close.

Circle Jan. 24 when these two teams meet at Clovis North and then Feb. 9 at Clovis West.

Clovis West’s Maddie Campbell is averaging over 20 points per game for state No. 10 and 16-3 Golden Eagles. Last year she was a starter on the CIF State Open Division state championship team and currently holds 18 Division 1 college offers despite only being a junior. (Chad Cotton/Contributed)

And why are these top two teams playing at such a high level besides great team chemistry? Look no further than two of the top players in the Central Section in Clovis West junior Maddie Campbell and Clovis North sophomore Savannah Tucker. Campbell, a starter on last year’s state title team is having one of the best seasons of anyone in the state, averaging an eye-opening 22 points, 8.5 rebounds, seven assists and five steals a game. The 5-foot-11 elite shooter also currently holds 21 Division I offers and broke the school record for points with 41 in a win over Lake Highland Prep on Dec. 21.

Tucker, also a guard, is averaging over 20 points per game, including a 32-point performance against Modesto Christian on Jan. 3. And get this, both teams are young; Clovis North only starts one senior, Jordyn Brown, and juniors Taylor Pilot and Grace Webb and sophomore Rowan Hein. Clovis West starts freshman Nikki Tom, three juniors in Campbell, Champney Pulliam and Aari Sanders and senior Makayla Warren.

Clovis, who lost to Clovis West 54-22 in last year’s Valley championship game, is solid at 11-5 and is led by junior Jasmine Heu and senior Taylor Correa. Central started the year with high hopes and was ranked as high as No. 19 in the state but is currently a disappointing 7-8. The Grizzlies feature 6-foot-4 junior Ramani Parker, a top-level college recruit who was a finalist to make the USA U16 national team this past summer.

Buchanan has a new head coach in Adam Wall and is currently 9-6 on the season, led by 6-foot senior Anaya Sperling and sophomore guard Morgan Mathis. Clovis East has a record of 8-7 and features two juniors in 6-foot-1 Seleena Miranda, who averages nearly a double-double, and Taja Felder.

Adrian Martinez (left) threw a 14-yard touchdown pass in the Under Armour All-America Game on Jan. 4 in Orlando, Florida and was coached by former San Francisco 49ers coach Steve Mariucci. Also pictured are teammate and fellow quarterbacks Jack West (Stanford commit) and Joey Gatewood (Auburn commit). Martinez has enrolled at Nebraska and will participate in spring practices. (Under Armour All-America Game)

Adrian Martinez throws TD in Under Armour All-America Game

For the first time in 406 days, Adrian Martinez trotted onto the football field but this time in front of a national audience on ESPN2 in the Under Armour All-America Game. The Clovis West alum (yes, he’s now an alum since he graduated early and has enrolled at the University of Nebraska) was one of six quarterbacks invited to play in the prestigious game on Jan. 4 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida and more than held his own against the nation’s best. In fact, it was widely reported that Martinez was the best quarterback during the practice sessions.

As for the game, Martinez surely impressed despite his team rotating three quarterbacks throughout the game. On his third possession in the third quarter he completed a 4th-and-2 on a six-yard comebacker then took the next snap 18 yards on a designed quarterback run. Following an incomplete deep throw, he completed a screen pass to running back and Penn State signee Ricky Slade Jr. for a 14-yard touchdown.

Martinez’s “Team Spotlight,” coached by former NFL coach Steve Mariucci, lost to “Team Highlight,” coached by former NFL star Deion Sanders 23-21.

“It felt great just to get back out on the field and play the game I love,” Martinez said via text message. “I’m so thankful to be where I am now.”

After his time in Florida, Martinez flew straight to Lincoln, Nebraska and will participate in the Huskers’ spring football practices. He is expected to challenge for the starting position for newly appointed head coach Scott Frost.