As we approach the end of 2017, it’s always fun to look back and revisit all the thrills, chills and championships that Clovis Unified was a part of. From January to December, it certainly was a year to remember. Without question, this can be a mega task to whittle down such a storied year to only a top seven, but below is a list (counting down from No. 7) of my favorites. Hope you enjoy reliving these special and memorable moments from 2017.
7. Clovis upsets Buchanan 2-1 in baseball D-I Valley final
Buchanan came in to the 2017 Division I Valley championship game with a 28-3 record, ranked No. 3 in the state and handily beat Clovis four times during the season by a combined total of 25-9. But, this doesn’t mean a darn thing to Clovis, whose storied history includes eight Valley titles under career wins leader James Patrick. Buchanan had four major Division I college players, Clovis had none. They were outgunned, outmanned and seemingly had no chance.
However, in front of a capacity crowd at Visalia’s Rawhide Stadium, the Cougars shocked the mighty Bears 2-1 behind a mad dash of home plate by Connor Jorgensen on a wild pitch in the top of the sixth inning.
“I knew there was going to be enough distance between me and the plate,” said Jorgensen, who reached by booming a resounding double to left before moving to third on a ground out. “It was just instinct.”
6. Jonah Wilson wins state shot put
Entering the CIF State Track and Field meet on June 5, Clovis’ Jacob Wilson held the high school state discus record at 221-5, which was also the top throw in the nation in 2017. Naturally, he was the heavy favorite but finished a disappointing third with a throw of 198-2. But, a few hours later, Wilson redeemed himself in winning the shot put with a throw of 65-2¾, surprising the crowd at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
“I’m stoked, I did not expect to come out here and throw a PR (personal record) and ultimately win the state championship,” said Wilson, who’s currently attending the University of Washington. “I put some things together and it ultimately happened.”
5. Clovis boys volleyball wins Division II state title
The season was going as planned for the Clovis boys volleyball team – the Cougars won league with a perfect 10-0 record and were leading rival Buchanan 2-0 in the Valley title game before their worst fears were realized when the Bears stormed from behind to win in five games. But, the Cougars roared back and won the D-II CIF State Volleyball championship by winning three games, including the thrilling 25-17, 25-19, 22-25, 26-24 over Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks for the state title.
The Cougars, coached by Richard Lake, ended the season ranked No. 7 in the state and No. 10 nationally and were led all season by four seniors: setter Trey Lake and a powerful hitting trio of Zevan Williams, Akash Dhothar and Max Ogas.
“It was one of our most complete games,” said Coach Lake about the state championship game. “All six players on the court were in sync. This victory was a legacy win for these seniors. This group of guys has played together since 7th grade, both for the school and club teams. They brought the tradition of Clovis volleyball to another level.”
4. Buchanan’s Smith and Lowe place first and second in state cross country meet
Buchanan’s Corie Smith and Meagan Lowe, best friends since their junior high days at Alta Sierra, made state history when they placed first and second at the CIF State Cross Country Championships on Nov. 26 at Woodward Park, running a phenomenal race on the biggest stage in their own backyard.
Smith, a sophomore, ran the course in 17:16.1 and Lowe, a junior, finished right behind her at 17:19.8, helping Buchanan to a second place team finish in Division I. The two became the first teammates in state history to place 1 and 2.
“It doesn’t even feel like I beat her,” Smith said. “It feels like we won it together. We are so close personally, so it’s a win for both of us.”
The duo went on to race at the Nike Nationals in Denver, where Lowe placed 16th and Smith 21st.
3. Clovis West quarterback Adrian Martinez picks Nebraska
Adrian Martinez had a fantastic problem – how to choose between 26 Division I college football programs that wanted the elite quarterback. He had some of the best of the best courting his talent; from Alabama to Oklahoma to Miami and Georgia and yes, Fresno State too.
But, in the topsy-turvy world of college football, much can change in the blink of an eye – he verbally committed to Cal in October of 2016 then Tennessee in May of this year but both coaching staffs were let go. Then entered Nebraska, and newly hired coach Scott Frost, seemingly late in the recruiting game. Frost, an offensive guru, made the 4-star signal caller a priority and eventually swooped him up to Huskerland. In fact, Frost called him a mere 90 minutes after he coached his Central Florida team to a conference championship win over Memphis on Dec. 2, and made an in-house visit that blew Martinez and his family away. Martinez officially signed on Dec. 20 and will enroll at Nebraska in January.
— Adrian Martinez (@MartinezTheQB) December 13, 2017
And to think that Martinez missed his entire senior season at Clovis West due to a torn labrum that required surgery, proving just how highly thought of the No. 8 ranked dual-threat quarterback is.
“I couldn’t be more excited,” Martinez told landof10.com. “I’m so pumped up just to get there and get started and really dive in and earn my spot … I’m really excited to get this opportunity to play at such a great, prestigious school — it’s a dream growing up. Just the opportunity to play for Coach Frost and such a great fan base, I don’t think it gets better than that. I don’t think it could line up more perfectly.”
2. Nevills, Mejia, Buchanan win state wrestling titles
Clovis wrestlers Justin Mejia and Seth Nevills made history at the 2017 CIF State Wrestling Championships and Buchanan won its second straight team title on March 5, proving that the Central Valley, and namely Clovis Unified, has cornered the market in California high school wrestling.
Mejia, wrestling at 126, became only the second California wrestler to win four straight titles while Nevills won his third straight heavyweight title with a 57-second pin to finish his junior year with a remarkable 127-0 mark.
“I’ve wrestled in some big matches but the weight of the world on a 17-year old kid going for his fourth state title was something I could only pretend to understand, and something most can’t even begin to comprehend,” Clovis coach Adam Tirapelle said. “It’s been a unique experience and a trying season, trying to get the best just to be the best version of himself and leave it all on the mat.”
1. Clovis West basketball girls win state title and No. 1 national ranking
Straight out of a movie script, the Clovis West 2016-17 girls basketball squad was a perfectly cast ensemble, each member playing their part to perfection and the final act ending with the ultimate prize – a California state title and No. 1 national ranking.
There was little doubt the Golden Eagles (34-2) were going to be great in 2017 with five seniors all going to Division I schools, and a sophomore with multiple offers. But after they won the prestigious Nike Tournament of Champions with four wins over teams ranked in the Top 20 in the nation, coach Craig Campbell and the Golden Girls of Clovis West made believers out of everybody.
They breezed through league at 10-0 and won their fifth straight Central Section title before entering the CIF State Open Division playoffs where they beat Troy (Fullerton) and Bishop’s (La Jolla) at home and Long Beach Poly down south. Then, on the biggest stage at Golden One Center in Sacramento, the Golden Eagles took out state power Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 44-40, cementing their place as the greatest girls basketball team in Central Section history.
And what a cast it was; Danae Marquez, the point guard, Sarah Bates, the two-guard who scored nine points in the fourth quarter of the state title game, Megan Anderson, the 6-foot sharpshooter, Bre’yanna Sanders, the defensive wizard, Tess Amundsen, the rebounder who could score and Maddie Campbell, the do-everything sophomore and coach’s daughter. A once in a generation team for sure.
“I told them there’s nothing they could do to make us more proud of them,” said Campbell, who won a state title in Nevada before coming to Clovis West 12 years ago. “Winning a state championship doesn’t make us more proud – it’s a special reward for this group of girls that have sacrificed so much to buy in.”