Preps

Saturday, Feb 19 2011 09:34 PM

BHS captures four individual titles at Yosemite Divisionals

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    By John Harte / Special to The Californian

    Ian Nickell of Bakersfield (right) and Vincent Gomez of Frontier delivered one of the night's best matches at 112 pounds, with Nickell scoring late to defeat Gomez, 7-6 at Saturday's sectional championships.

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    By John Harte / Special to The Californian

    Chris Calcagno of Clovis North is trying to pull free of Bakersfield's Natrelle Demison during the 130-pound sectional final at East Saturday night, but Demison isn't letting go en route to his 8-7 decision.

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    By John Harte / Special to The Californian

    Defending state champ Bryce Hammond's final at 160-pounds was about as easy as they come. He scored a 20-5 technical fall against Clovis' Adrian Salas.

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BY ZACH EWING, Californian staff writer zewing@bakersfield.com

Put yourself for a minute in the wrestling shoes of Ian Nickell.

He's the Bakersfield High senior who, for the second straight Saturday, beat Frontier's Vincent Gomez, this time with a last-second takedown to take the 112-pound final 7-6 and win the Central Section's Yosemite Divisional at East High.

But, after such a monumental victory, Nickell did not get to rest. Oh, no: When you wrestle for Bakersfield High, and it's the finals of a big tournament, you have some serious cheering to do.

"I get into it," Nickell said. "It's almost the same excitement for when I'm wrestling. I want my teammates to be just as successful."

BHS placed a meet-high seven wrestlers in the finals, winning four. The Drillers' team total of 271.5 points was second to state No. 1 Clovis' 310.5, but the number Drillers coach Andy Varner was most concerned with was 10: That's the number of BHS wrestlers who advanced to next Saturday's section Grand Masters meet at Clovis-Buchanan.

"These kids have gone through the wars now; they know what to expect," Varner said. "They understand, hey, we've got one more week and then we can go. We're in a pretty good position."

And though Clovis, deeper than Bakersfield but without quite as many state-title threats, had Masters qualifiers at all 14 weights, the Drillers are more concerned with how the team score will look at state, where Bakersfield, and not Clovis, will be the defending champion.

"It's all about state," BHS senior Adam Fierro said. "Congratulations to them, good for them, they come out with the victory, but our goal isn't to win this tournament."

Still, on an individual level, the Yosemite Division title wasn't a bad prize for the four who won it.

Nickell, after losing some half a dozen times to Gomez in the past year, surprised him 11-4 in the SWYL finals last week. Gomez came out like a champion scorned at this tournament, using four pins to reach the final, where he took a quick 4-1 lead on Nickell.

But Nickell battled back, getting a takedown of his own before the end of the first period and a point for Gomez's stalling in the second, tying the match. Gomez took a 6-5 lead with a third-period escape, but Nickell scrambled into a takedown as the seconds ticked away.

"It's a good feeling to pull a match out," Nickell said. "I'd have rather made it a little easier on myself, I guess."

Last year, Nickell was only an alternate out of the divisional, and he needed another wrestler to drop out of Masters to get a shot: Now he's a champion.

"He's worked so hard," Varner said. "The kid deserves everything he gets."

Bakersfield's next champion, 130-pound junior Natrelle Demison, wanted to prove a previous result wrong. In the final of the Temecula Valley Invitational last month, he led Clovis North's Chris Calcagno in the second period when Calcagno pinned him to steal the match.

Saturday, it nearly happened again. Demison led 2-1 in the first period when Calcagno briefly turned him on his back. But Demison fought back and eventually won the match 8-7 with a strong third period.

"I was a little nervous going into the match, because last time he caught me," Demison said. "I just had to start coming back, make sure I'm wrestling smart."

Bakersfield 152-pound senior Adam Fierro also had business to attend to. He finished second at this tournament in 2009 and third last year, but he finished the job with a 2-1 decision against Clovis' Blake Thompson in the final this time around.

"I've never won this tournament," Fierro said. "It feels really good to win this one."

The fourth Drillers winner was the most predictable: Bryce Hammond, the defending state champion at 160 pounds, beat Clovis' Adrian Salas by technical fall in the final this year, though he gave up a takedown late in the match and fumed afterwards.

"I got taken down, and that was one of my goals all year was not to get taken down," Hammond said. "But I'll give up the takedown for as many takedowns as I got. It's just fun to get out there and put on a show. I don't want to have any close matches anymore."

Three other Drillers -- Micah Cruz (125), Timmy Box (135) and Coleman Hammond (145) -- lost their finals matches. Other BHS medal-winners were Maxx Ramirez (fourth at 140), Silas Nacita (fourth at 171) and Kyle Pope (sixth at 189).

"I wish it could have come out a little different for some of the guys in the finals, but next week is a new week," Varner said.

The top seven at each weight qualify for Masters, and that includes some Kern County surprises. Liberty's Chris Sizemore (189) and Foothill's Rudy Amaya (215) both reached the final with unexpected victories in Saturday morning's semifinals, and though both lost the final, they'll be in good shape in next weeks' formula-based Masters bracket.

Highlighting the wrestlers who fought back through the consolation bracket to place top seven was West High's Cesar Luna, an unseeded wrestler at 160 who lost his first-round match by major decision Friday and then became white hot. He pinned seven straight opponents in the consolation bracket, four of them in the first period, to place third.

"I don't know, I just got on this high," Luna said. "I stopped wasting time in tie-ups and going for angles. I was just more aggressive."

When he pinned Clovis North's Chris Williams in the consolation quarterfinals, Luna said it was the first time he had ever faced an opponent from the wrestling-rich Clovis Unified School District. He pinned him in 24 seconds.

In all, 27 Kern County wrestlers reached the top seven, including four from Foothill and three each from Frontier and Centennial. Liberty had two. Independence's Jawayn Fambrough (140) and Kennedy's Daniel Lopez (145) became each school's first qualifier from the Yosemite Division.

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