TEMECULA, CALIF – The 2012 Clinch Gear Battle for the Belt, hosted by Temecula Valley High School, was a star-studded affair with both state and national implications. One ofthe country’s premiere high school wrestling competitions, the January 13-14 Clinch Gear Battle for the Belt featured 16 of California’s top 30 high school wrestling teams, including three nationally ranked teams and 10 nationally ranked athletes.
Photo credits: Photos John Sachs courtesy of www.tech-fall.com
Clovis High School (Intermat #3, Clinch Gear National HS Team Rankings #5, TheCaliforniaWrestler.com #1) stormed to the team points lead during the semi-final round and never looked back, advancing six wrestlers to the finals. The Cougars finished the grueling two-day tournament with three champions, nine total medalists and 272.5 team points.
Poway High School (Intermat #18, Clinch Gear National HS Team Rankings #18, TheCaliforniaWrestler.com #2) finished a distant second in the team standings with 203 team points. The Titans had one finalist and eight placewinners.
Bakersfield High School (Intermat #22, Clinch Gear National HS Team Rankings Honorable Mention, TheCaliforniaWrestler.com #3) finished third in the Clinch Gear Battle for the Belt team race with 150.5 team points. The Drillers had three individual champions and four placers, as well as a fourth finalist representing the Bakersfield “B” squad.
Defending California state champion Johnson Mai (Intermat #5, Clinch Gear National HS Rankings #3) of North Torrance won the title at 106, recording a technical fall over the state’s fifth-ranked wrestler, Angel Velasquez of Central Catholic. Mai earned the Lower Weight MVP award with four falls and two technical falls. St. John Bosco’s freshman phenom, Zahid Valencia (Intermat #1, Clinch Gear National HS Rankings #2), did not compete.
At 113, returning California state runner-up Isaiah Locsin (Intermat #4, Clinch Gear National HS Rankings #7) of Live OakHS, ranked second in the state, defeated fifth-ranked Joseph Dominguez of St. John Bosco by a 5-0 score to capture the championship. Micah Perez (Intermat #9, Clinch Gear National HS Rankings #8) of Central Union, a junior currently ranked third in the state, did not compete.
Clovis HS brothers Jonas and Daniel Gaytan each moved up a weight class and took home the belts at 120 and 126, respectively. Jonas is currently the state’s top-ranked wrestler at 113, while Daniel, a returning California state champion, is ranked second at 120.
Righetti’s Josh Rodriguez, the state’s second-ranked wrestler at 126 and the Clinch Gear Battle for the Belt top seed, placed third. Second seed Connor Pollock of Folsom, ranked third in the state, finished in third.
St. John Bosco freshman standout Anthony Valencia, ranked first in the state at 126, claimed the title at 132, shutting out third-ranked Martin Ramirez of Elk Grove, 7-0. Ramirez placed third in the 2011 California CIF State Championships. Poway’s Victor Lopez, ranked sixth in the state, beat returning Nevada 4A state champion Zack Perry of Green Valley in the third place match.
It was an all-Bakersfield HS affair at 138, as Natrelle Demison (Intermat #11, Clinch Gear National HS Rankings #14), ranked second in California, bested teammate Micah Cruz. Ranked fifth at 132, Cruz wrestled up a weight and represented the Drillers’ “B” team. It was Demison’s third career Battle for the Belt title.
Fifth-seeded Luke Wilson of Righetti pulled off the upset win at 145 over Bakersfield’s Maxx Ramirez, the state’s fourth-ranked wrestler, recording a fall just 24 seconds into the first period.
Lemoore junior Isaiah Martinez (Intermat #3, Clinch Gear National HS Rankings #2), a returning state champion who is currently ranked first at 152, defeated Del Oro’s Austin Branum, the state’s third-ranked wrestler, by technical fall, 23-8. It was the third consecutive Clinch Gear Battle for the Belt title for Martinez, who was named the tournament’s Champion of Champions.Second seed Coleman Hammond (Intermat #6, Clinch Gear National HS Rankings #6) was injured in the quarterfinal round and withdrew from the tournament.
Two Nevada standouts squared off at 160, with Spring Valley’s Ray Waters, a 2011 4A runner-up at 152, pinning Green Valley’s Ryder Newman, a 2011 4A state champion at 145, in the third period to claim the Clinch gear Battle for the Belt championship. Clovis’ Adrian Salas, ranked third in the California, was upset in the second round but came back to place third.
The 170 final pitted two nationally ranked wrestlers, Zach Nevills (Intermat #2, Clinch Gear National HS Rankings #4) of Clovis versus Bakersfield’s Silas Nacita (Intermat #18, Clinch Gear National HS Rankings #15), who are also ranked first and second in the California, respectively. Nacita, who lost to Nevills in the third-place match at the 2011 California CIF State Championships, turned the table with a 5-3 victory. Poway’s Connor King (Intermat #19, Clinch Gear National HS Rankings #17) placed fifth.
At 182, California’s fifth ranked Kyle Pope of Bakersfield narrowly defeated third-ranked Ryan Davies of Clovis to capture the tourney belt. Sixth-ranked Jon Wixom of Chaparral HS finished third.
In the 195 division, Bucknell-bound Robert Marchese (Intermat #11) recorded two falls, a tech fall, a major decision and two decisions to earn the Upper Weight MVP award. Marchese, the state’s top-ranked wrestler, beat number three-ranked Dakota Gordon of Clovis in the final, 3-1. Bellarmine’s Danny Chaid, ranked fourth in the state, finished third.
De La Salle senior Justin Walker, ranked second in California at 195, claimed the Clinch Gear Battle for the Belt title at 220 with a 3-1 victory over Elk Grove’s Josh Letuligasenoa, who upset third-ranked Richard Durr of Poway in the semi-finals.
At 285, Clovis sophomore Nick Nevills (Intermat #5, Clinch Gear National HS Rankings #5), ranked first in the state, notched a 3-2 win over’s sixth-ranked senior Robert Chismof Downey.
The 2012 Clinch Gear Battle for the Belt is one of just 21 high school events nationwide to earn the prestigious FloNationals Major designation, welcoming over 60 top high school wrestling teams from throughout California, Colorado & Nevada.
Final Team Standings:
1. Clovis 272.5
2. Poway 203
3. Bakersfield 150.5
4. Lemoore 129
5. Righetti 112
6. Green Valley 108
7. Sultana 105
8. Chico 104.5
9. Spring Valley 101
10. St. John Bosco 98
106: Mai Johnson, North Torrance def. Angel Velasquez, Central Catholic, TF 18-3
113: Isaiah Locsin, Live Oak def. Joseph Dominguez, St. John Bosco, 5-0
120: Jonas Gaytan, Clovis def. Josh Miranda, Poway, 2-1
126: Daniel Gaytan, Clovis def. Evan McKirdy, Del Norte, 4-1
132: Anthony Valencia, St. John Bosco def. Martin Ramirez, Elk Grove, 7-0
138: Natrelle Demison, Bakersfield def. Micah Cruz, Bakersfield “B”, 12-3
145: Luke Wilson, Righetti def. Maxx Ramirez, Bakersfield, F 0:24
152: Isaiah Martinez, Lemoore def. Austin Branum, Del Oro, TF 23-8
160: Ray Waters, Spring Valley def. Ryder Newman, Green Valley, F 5:18
170: Silas Nacita, Bakersfield def. Zach Nevills, Clovis, 5-3
182: Kyle Pope, Bakersfield def. Ryan Davies, Clovis, 2-1
195: Robert Marchese, Oak Hills def. Dakota Gordon, Clovis, 3-1
220: Justin Walker, De La Salle def. Josh Letuligasenoa, Elk Grove, 3-1
285: Nick Nevills, Clovis def. Robert Chism, Downey, 3-2
Lower Weight MVP: Johnson Mai, North Torrance
Upper Weight MVP: Robert Marchese, Oak Hills
Champion of Champions: Isaiah Martinez, Lemoore