Legendary Clovis wrestling coach retires

Clovis High’s Steve Tirapelle announced his retirement from high school wrestling on March 9 after 20-plus seasons with the Cougars. (Clovis Wrestling)

Longtime Clovis High coach Steve Tirapelle is retiring from high school wrestling to take a more active role in coaching the next generation of Cougars through the community’s youth wrestling programs.

Tirapelle, who led the Cougars to seven state championships, including a state-record five straight from 2011-2015, is widely regarded as one of the premier coaches in the state and has been a fixture in the national wrestling community for more than 22 years.

“I want to thank our Clovis High wrestlers, families, coaches and administration who have made my tenure as the Director of Wrestling at Clovis High a wonderful experience,” Tirapelle said in a Facebook post. “This season is my last as the head wrestling coach for Clovis wrestling. I will continue to assist the new head coach, but will focus my attention on our club offerings (K-12th grade) for our elementary/middle school student-athletes/families, as well as mentoring our elementary/middle school coaching staffs. I will also focus on individual skills and techniques for our elite wrestlers at all levels …

“I now look forward to new challenges and continuing our tradition of excellence. Clovis will continue to create California wrestling history, every time the Cougars take the mat. Our goal is to better prepare our youth athletes for the challenges ahead, so they are better prepared for the big stage.”

In addition to the seven state team titles, Tirapelle coached 63-state finalist appearances, including 33 CIF State individual champions. He also broke records along the way as his 2015 squad holds the CIF State Championship team scoring record of 276.5.

Tirapelle joined Clovis Unified School District in 1995 as a teacher and coach, retiring from his teaching job in 2014. He continued to coach wrestling for another four years and earlier this month saw the second wrestler from his program, heavyweight Seth Nevills, make state history as only the third to bring home four consecutive state titles.

“Coach Tirapelle is a legend in California’s wrestling community,” said Clovis High Principal Stephanie Hanks. “We are so grateful for the lasting impact he has made on our school community, and in the lives of the wrestlers he coached.”