Make it five straight for the program that calls itself “The Empire”.
Buchanan captured its record-tying fifth consecutive CIF state wrestling championship over the weekend in Bakersfield, and it has become something of an expectation of the program, coach Troy Tirapelle said.
“You have to earn it,” he said. “As much expectation as there is in the community and the state, we have just as high of ourselves.”
And they just continue to live up to and exceed them.
The Bears had 10 semifinalists during the weekend with four on the boys side and one on the girls side.
Junior Maximo Renteria secured his third consecutive state crown at 126 pounds, and Tirapelle attributes his success to will and desire to go with excellent technical skills and physical gifts.
“He’s very gifted,” Tirapelle said. “He’s a great competitor. When he’s out in front of the spotlight, he just gets better. He likes when people are watching and that’s what you’re kind of looking for in sports.”
And it’s not just that Buchanan is winning these state titles. The team is blowing away the competition.
“We just want to showcase what we can do,” Tirapelle said. “Normally what happens–and this is why it’s important for us to win by a lot– is more that we think we’re a pretty good team. If we wrestle to our abilities, we should win by a lot.”
The Bears had 11 wrestlers place in the top eight of their respective weight classes and the team finished with 261 points, 77.5 ahead of second place St. John Bosco, another premier wrestling school in the state.
106-pounder Raymond Lopez finished second in his weight class, and Hunter Leake finished in the same spot at 132 pounds.
Rocco Contino finished third at 160 pounds, Jack Gioffre finished fourth at 113, Kyler Lake ended up fourth at 138, Reymundo Raiz was fourth at 152, Jadon Martin was fifth at 182 and Kade Campbell finished eighth at 285.
But the dominance by the Bears wasn’t reserved for just the boys. Cristelle Rodriguez won her second consecutive state title at 111 pounds, racking up two pins and three major-decisions.
“She’s perfect for the kind of standard that we accept,” Tirapelle said. “She does everything that our boys do and we don’t look at it any differently and her success has shown. She can keep up with the boys.”
The victory over the weekend was special for Tirapelle, as the team’s fifth consecutive title ties Clovis for the most consecutive state championships, the same school that his father Steve coached very successfully for two decades and where his brother Adam currently coaches.
“I don’t think it’s totally set in yet,” he said. “It’s a blessing and it’s a lot of hard work. There are a lot of factors that go into it between the wrestling, the coaches, the parents, the kids, the support you get from the school.”