By Daniel Leon, Sports Reporter
Buchanan wrestling has been on a roll this season and it added another accolade to its resume on Saturday – the Tri-River Athletic Conference crown.
The Bears had six champions crowned at the 2016 TRAC Championships in Matthew Olguin (108 lbs.), Ethan Leake (115 lbs.), Durbin Lloren (134 lbs.), Greg Gaxiola (147 lbs.), Abner Romero (162 lbs.) and Cade Belshay (172 lbs.).
“It was impressive,” Buchanan head coach Troy Tirapelle said. “We keep taking care of business. It’s like crossing things off a checklist – one [tournament] down, three more to go.”
The team had another six finish as runner-ups – Brett Villarreal (128 lbs.), Joel Romero (140 lbs.), Anthony Montalvo (184 lbs.), Trevor Ervin (197 lbs.), Zakary Levatino (222 lbs.) and Isaiah Ortiz at heavyweight.
“We’re proud of what we did but we’re not satisfied,” Tirapelle said. “We have four days to fix a couple things. We’re good but we’re going to have to work and make sure we take care of business in order to stay on top.”
Reigning state champion Clovis High finished second with 260.5 points, just 11.5 points behind Buchanan (272).
“It’s a really tough tournament,” Clovis coach Adam Tirapelle said. “Obviously you have some of the top teams in the country and several of the top teams in the state, so there’s always things you can do better. Buchanan is a great team and we needed a little bit better effort out of some of the guys and didn’t quite get it.
Like the Bears, the Cougars also had six champions and another four-runner ups.
Clovis’ first-place winners include Justin Mejia (122 lbs.), Dylan Martinez (140 lbs.), Brandon Martino (154 lbs.), Josh Hokit (184 lbs.) AJ Nevills (197 lbs.) and Seth Nevills (heavyweight).
“It’s all about building toward the end,” the Clovis coach added. “You want to win every week, but you’re also trying to build momentum from the week before, get tougher, get in better spots and be ready to go [for the next tournament].”
The Bears and Cougars continue to prove that they are at the top of the food chain as next team, Clovis North, finished at a distant third with 194 points followed by Clovis West (126), Central (120) and tournament host Clovis East (66).
Chris Deloza and Nathaniel Holloway recorded the two Broncos’ first-place finishes at 128 and 222 pounds, respectively.
For those who qualified, the next tournament was the Yosemite Division Valley Championships, which ran from Feb. 19-20 at Clovis High. This Saturday, Feb. 27, the Central Section Masters Championships will be held at Lemoore High School.
The season concludes at the CIF State Championships in Bakersfield, where Buchanan and Clovis are both expected to make a run at the state title.