Greatest of all time? Nevills wins fourth California wrestling title

Seth Nevills of Clovis High celebrates after winning his fourth consecutive state heavyweight title. Nevills finishes his high school career with a record of 169-1 and is now considered one of the most accomplished California prep athletes of all time. (Contributed by Tony Rotundo)

Debating the best ever in sports usually involves a spirited conversation.

Think of a group of old-timers sitting in a coffee shop providing stats and arguments and “I remember when” stories to strengthen their position.

Who’s the greatest baseball player of all time: Babe Ruth or Willie Mays? How about the greatest college football player of all time: Barry Sanders or Herschel Walker? What would happen if Mike Tyson fought Muhammad Ali while both in their prime?

In the case of heavyweight wrestler Seth Nevills of Clovis High School, he very well may have cemented himself as not only the greatest California high school wrestler of all time but the most decorated boys prep athlete in state history after dismantling the field at the CIF State Wrestling Championships, becoming only the state’s third four-time gold medal winner.

Consider the facts: a 169-1 overall record, four state titles in four years and pinning every opponent the last two years in his wins.

Who can boast a more impressive resume?

Nevills defeated Vacaville’s Jake Levengood in 49 seconds in the championship match held at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield, continuing his two-year streak of all his wins by pin. Nevills will be attending college wrestling power Penn State in the fall. (Contributed by Tony Rotundo)

He culminated his illustrious career at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield on March 3, pinning Vacaville’s Jake Levengood in 49 seconds in the championship match.

“I think he’s unquestionably had the most dominant high school career of anyone in California history,” Clovis coach Adam Tirapelle said. “I really don’t think that’s up for debate over a four-year period. He wrestled every big guy in the biggest state in the country with the most NFL players and he didn’t just beat them all, he dominated them all.”

In fact, Tirapelle estimates only 20 of Nevill’s matches in his career didn’t end in a pin.

His only loss was to world Greco-Roman world champion Cohlton Schultz of Colorado 3-2 in the finals of the Doc Buchanan Invitational this past January.

“I am beyond happy to accomplish a goal that I have had for so long,” Nevills said after his final event. “You can’t really put words on something like that.”

Blessed with size (currently 280 pounds), quickness and agility, Nevills is as fierce competitor as you’ll find. According to Tirapelle, his balance and feel for the sport are uncanny and unheard of for a guy his size, the “LeBron James of heavyweights in California, just a man among boys.”

After earning all-TRAC honors the last two years as an offensive lineman, he decided to forego football his senior year to concentrate on wrestling.

Nevills will be attending Penn State next year, joining brother Nick. Together with his older brothers Zach, Nick, and AJ, Team Nevills has now won nine state championships, breaking the record of eight held by none other than Adam, Alex and Troy Tirapelle also of Clovis High.

“My brothers paved a way for me to follow in their example,” Seth said. “And if they didn’t, I don’t think I would be where I am today.”

The legend of Seth Nevills has definitely reached rockstar-like status, even among his wrestling peers.

“I know it’s a new generation but it’s the only kid I’ve ever had where kids who wrestled him wanted to take a selfie with him after the match,” Tirapelle said. “That’s the level of respect and dominance.”