Heat check: Clovis-related sports stories to cool you off

Buchanan Kendall Milton was named Cal-Hi Sports Boys Freshman Athlete of the Year for 2016-17. He was moved up to the varsity football team mid season and rushed for 478 yards and six touchdowns. He has already received multiple Division 1 offers from Pac-12 schools including UCLA, USC, Arizona and Washington. (Photo by Nick Baker/Rawsportz Media)


We interrupt your regularly scheduled Around the TRAC with a summer edition filled with enough cool stuff to bring the Clovis heat down a notch – from 106 to 96. Hey, 10 degrees is ten degrees amiright?

So, my friendly neighborhood sports-loving friends, how exactly have you spent your summer so far? Basking or baking in the sun? Mad-capped trips to the beach or chillin’ in the comfort of your backyard pool? Perhaps you’ve been taxiing kids around from activity to activity to activity? And I know for some, summer still signifies the dreaded “W” word – work. Ughhhh.

Whatever the case may be, while our local high schools are prepping for the year to come (workouts, retreats, camps, out-of-town games), the next generation of athletes are also on the grind in youth leagues and tournaments with promises of pizza parties and Otter Pops after hard-fought games. Ah yes, those glorious dog days of summer. Parents, grandparents and the kids who chose to accept this challenge – we salute you.

One of the things I look forward to at the end of the school school (besides vacation!) are the awards that pour in from various publications. (Not so subtle reminder: if you haven’t read our Best of TRAC Awards issue, what are you waiting for?!). Meanwhile, Cal-Hi Sports just released its all-state baseball and softball list, Players of the Year and Schools of the Year. Cal-Hi Sports is the absolute authority on all things high school sports in California and its rankings and insights are top notch. Clovis Unified is represented quite well among the best of the state – we are not surprised.

So go ahead and turn the AC down a degree and check out some cool stuff that’s happened this summer.

Now, where’s my glass of sweetened ice tea, it’s getting hot in here.

Clovis’ Nevills, Buchanan’s Milton named state Athletes of the Year

Two of the biggest and brightest stars in the Tri-River Athletic Conference received some pretty impressive awards as Clovis junior Seth Nevills and Buchanan freshman Kendall Milton were named Cal-Hi Sports Boys Athletes of the Year for their class.

Just let that sink in for a while – both Nevills and Milton are considered the best athletes in their class for the 2016-17 school year in the entire state of California – out of 1,339 high schools and 1,769,487 students to be exact.

Nevills, who also won the award as a freshman and sophomore, is an astonishing 127-0 in his wrestling career with three straight heavyweight CIF state championships. In 2017, he went 37-0 with all his wins by pin. Standing 6-foot-4, 275 pounds, he is also a standout offensive lineman on the football team and would no doubt be a top-level football recruit if that were his primary sport. He is committed to Penn State where his brother, Nick, is coming off a sophomore year that saw the Nittany Lions win their second straight NCAA wrestling title and sixth in last seven years.

Milton, a phenom running back, was moved up to varsity in the middle of the season and rushed for 476 yards and six touchdowns. The powerful and explosive football player is a chiseled 6-foot-1.75, 205 pounds and currently holds offers from from Pac-12 powers UCLA, USC, Arizona and recently received an offer from Washington. Milton also ran track and was a part of the 4X100 relay that placed sixth at the Valley meet.

The Clovis Cal Ripken 9U team won the state tournament in Bakersfield on July 9. The team advanced to the regionals held in Utah. Bottom Row: Dalton Byrd, Ryan Machado, Jackson Efird, Caden Quinn, Slater Balestra. Middle Row: Stephen Gonzales, Ryder Dearman, Kade Holt, Reece Day, Tristan Kircher, Nick Caballero. Back Row: Coach John Efird, Coach Pat Machado, Coach Bryan Byrd, Logan Georges. (Contributed Photo)

Clovis Cal Ripken 9U wins state championship

Not only did the Clovis High baseball team win the D-I Central Section championship, but the future looks bright as the Clovis Cal Ripken 9u team won the state championships on July 9 when it defeated Lodi 5-2 in Bakersfield.

The team moved on to Utah for the regional tournament played July 20-23.

The State Tournament MVP was Logan Georges and the Most Outstanding Pitcher was Reece Day. All-Tournament selections were Dalton Byrd, Reece Day, Jackson Efird, Logan Georges, Tristan Kircher and Ryan Machado.

Clovis East alum Bryson DeChambeau, seen here in a promotional picture from Puma, won the John Deere Classic for his first PGA Tour win. The 23-year old finished one stroke ahead of Patrick Rogers and birdied the 18h to force a tie before Rogers would hit his tee shot on 18 in the rough. (Photo courtesy of Puma.com)

Bryson DeChambeau wins John Deere Classic

Clovis East alum Bryson DeChambeau had been waiting his whole life for his first PGA Tour win, and when the moment finally came the emotions poured out like a flood.

The 23-year-old DeChambeau erased a four-stroke deficit when he birdied four of his final six holes, including the 18th of the TPC Deere Run to shoot a final round 65 and an 18-under 266 total. Patrick Rogers finished one stroke behind DeChambeau with a final round 70.

“I feel like it’s a long time coming even though I’m only 23,” said DeChambeau at a press conference after the event. “It’s pretty special to win here, I’ve always loved the golf course. Coming this year I was excited because I was hitting the ball really well and needed a couple of putts to fall.”

And fall they did as DeChambeau sank a 14-foot birdie putt on the 18th to tie Rogers. But Rogers, who DeChambeau competed against in college while at SMU, just missed a par putt to tie on 17 then hit his tee shot on 18 in the rough.

The win netted DeChambeau $1,080,000 and earned him a spot at The Open at the Royal Birkdale Golf Course in Southport, England the following weekend – a quick turnaround for the budding star who just recently found his stroke again.

“After winning the 2015 NCAA and U.S. Ametuer I was on a high after that and playing incredible golf and went into a low and a lull as well trying to understand my golf swing a little more and was messing around with some things” said DeChambeau. “Unfortunately it took me off track and I realized quickly what I needed to do to get back on track and I was able to right the ship about three or four weeks ago.”

Buchanan named Boys School of Year by Cal-Hi Sports

For the second consecutive year, Buchanan has received a high honor for its year in athletics, named the Cal-Hi Sports Boys School of the Year for 2016-17.

Led by winning a second-straight CIF state wrestling title, the Bears boys were stellar all season, also capturing Central Section titles in water polo, golf and volleyball.

“We are honored to be recognized,” said Buchanan athletic director James Gambrell. “Of all the marquee schools and athletic programs in the state of California to be recognized is a huge honor.

“It takes everyone to provide the consistency of Buchanan athletics. To win state back-to-back years and have the best athletic program in the state of California is mind-boggling.”

The Bears beat out powerhouse schools such as Archbishop Mitty, Mater Dei and De La Salle for the honor, all private schools.

The wrestling team won its second consecutive CIF State wrestling title and was highlighted by individual state champs Cade Belshay (220) and Anthony Montalvo (182). Joel Romero (160) placed 2nd, Matthew Olguin (113) third, Trevor Ervin (195) sixth and Isaiah Ortiz (285) seventh. They were coached by Troy Tirapelle.

Despite the baseball team falling short in the Valley title game, a 2-1 loss to Clovis, they were highly ranked nationally all year and finished the season 28-4 and ranked No. 6 in the state. They were led by a strong group of senior including pitchers Carson Olson and Hunter Reinke, infielders Jamal O’Guinn and Quentin Selma, and catcher Zach Presno, the 2016-17 Clovis Roundup Boys’ Athlete of the Year.

The water polo team finished 25-5 overall and defeated Clovis 8-3 in the D-I Valley final. They were named the Clovis Roundup Boys Team of the Year and were led by goalie Kyle McKenney, Robert Phillips and Kaleb Archer. The team was coached by Nic Maes.

The volleyball team won its fourth straight D-I Valley title in an upset win over Clovis. Not only were the Bears the No. 2 seed but they were down 0-2 before coming back to win. They were led by Kyle Merchen,

Spencer Heimerdinger, Braden Clark and coached by John Jay.

The golf team captured the D-I Valley title behind Tyler Ashman’s winning 71 and was coached by Greg Funk.

In addition, Clovis High was named a School of Distinction by winning Central Section titles in baseball and softball and a CIF D-II SoCal title in boys’ volleyball. The Cougars also won a CIF title in boys’ soccer and took second in the CIF State Wrestling Championships. They also placed fourth in the CIF state track meet and placed second in boys and girls water polo.

Buchanan’s Carson Olson, who’s headed to Cal, was named First Team All-State by Cal-Hi Sports. Other first team members include teammate Jamal O’Guinn and Clovis pitcher Darby Tatum. (Contributed Photo)

Cal-Hi Sports All-State teams announced in baseball, softball

We all know how tough, competitive and well-respected baseball is in the TRAC, not only in California but in the nation. Last year Buchanan went 30-1 and finished No. 1 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports and No. 1 in the nation by multiple publications. This year Buchanan went 28-3 before losing to rival Clovis 2-1 in the Valley title game.

Cal-Hi Sports recognized the following baseball and softball players for their achievements during the 2017 season:

First team: Carson Olson, senior pitcher, Buchanan; Darby Tatum, senior pitcher, Clovis; Jamal O’Guinn, senior shortstop, Buchanan.
Second team: Zach Presno, senior catcher, Buchanan; Quentin Selma, senior third baseman, Buchanan; Chet Allison, senior outfielder, Clovis.
Third team: Hunter Reinke, senior pitcher, Buchanan.
Underclass team: James Bell, junior catcher, Clovis North; Brady Hormel, sophomore second baseman, Buchanan.
Hormel of Buchanan was the only sophomore to be chosen on the underclass infield. It was Cal-Hi Sports 36th year of compiling their all-state lists for baseball.
In softball, Danielle Lung of D-I champion Clovis made 2nd team pitcher and Buchanan catcher Analiese Raley made the underclass team as a junior.

Paul Meadors :Paul Meadors is a man of many talents. He is a elementary school teacher, Junior High athletic director, and basketball coach in Traver, CA, in addition to serving as the Sports Editor for the Clovis Roundup. He is also the author of the humorous book “Letters to eBay,” and he has recorded a piano album of his own compositions titled “Surviving the Storm.” He lives in Fresno with wife Lori and daughters Georgie, Alex and Ruthie.