CLOVIS - All eyes were on two of the top ranked wrestling teams in the state battling it out inside the Buchanan High School gym in an event dubbed “Battle of the Bears” on Jan. 22.
Selma High, the state’s No. 3 ranked team, fell to top-ranked and reigning CIF state champion Buchanan in a 44-14 defeat. The Selma Bears and the Buchanan Bears were the top two ranked teams in the Central Section heading into the dual match.
“None of our guys backed down, they were ready to compete,” Selma Bears head coach Sam Lopez said. “We do a good job when the competition gets really high like the Doc B, postseason, the state tournament, we usually show and we compete. That’s all I wanted, I wanted us to go out and compete.”
After Buchanan gained six points by forfeit in the 160-pound match, Fresno State-bound wrestlers Jace Luchau and Christian Rodriguez won back-to-back matches by decision for Selma to tie the score up at 6-6.
Luchau wrestled in the first official bout of the night, which was the 170-pound match against No. 7 ranked wrestler Rocco Contino.
The match went into overtime at 3-3 after Contino was penalized for using a full nelson hold, which gave Luchau the tying point.
With time winding down in the sudden-death overtime period, Luchau claimed a 5-3 victory with a two-point takedown.
“The whole time I was wrestling, I was just keeping myself calm and not trying to waste too much energy,” Luchau said. “I knew that he was tired and I knew that if I kept pushing a good pace I was going to win.”
Luchau, who wrestled two weight classes above, came into the dual match ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 6 in the nation in the 152-pound weight class. Originally, Lucahu was slated to compete against his future Fresno State teammate Matt Olguin in the 160 match, but he got moved up another weight class at the last minute.
“I wanted to wrestle Matthew, nothing against the guy, I wasn’t trying to avoid him or anything,” Luchau said. “It was just coach’s call and they thought it was something we needed to do to help improve our team score.”
Rodriguez, who is the No. 2 ranked 170-pounder in California, wrestled above his weight class in the 182-pound bout against JD Peralta. After Rodriguez led at the end of first and second periods, the future Bulldog had his hand raised after a 10-5 decision win.
Buchanan extended its lead 16-6 after No. 4 ranked wrestler Jadon Martin defeated Rudy Garcia in a 9-6 decision and before Selma forfeited the 220-pound match.
In the heavyweight bout, the Selma Bears cut Buchanan’s lead 16-9 after Michael Rennovato defeated Zane Rix in a 3-2 decision. Rennovato won the match after scoring on a two-point takedown with two seconds left in the third period.
“I wish he would’ve took him down 10 seconds earlier,” Lopez said. “It looked like he would’ve pinned him.”
Another victorious Selma wrestler was top nationally ranked 106-pounder Richard Figueroa, who was moved up a weight class to wrestle in the 113 pound bout. Figueroa wrestled against Buchanan’s Carlos Negrete in rematch of last year’s 106-pound state finals.
The Arizona State commit continued his successful sophomore season with a 3-0 victory over Negrete.
“I feel like I could’ve done a lot better, I didn’t get to finish a couple of shots that I had,” Figueroa said. “It should’ve been a high scoring pace, but the outcome was the difference in the end.”
Fresno State commit Tristan Lujan wasn’t as successful as his Selma teammates, losing 7-5 to top-ranked California 120-pounder Maximo Renteria. Lujan was ranked No. 2 in the state and No. 7 in the country in the 113-pound weight class heading into the match.
The only other Selma Bear to win his match was Jacob Rivera, who defeated Hunter Leake in a 5-4 win in the 128-pound match. Leake was the No. 7 ranked wrestler in the state heading into the match. Rivera’s win would cut Buchanan’s lead to 25-14, but Selma would lose four-straight matches in the 132, 138, 145, and 152 pound bouts to finish the night. The Selma Bears forfeited matches in the 132, 160, 220 weight classes.
Lopez said with three forfeits and losing two matches by pinfall, the score wasn’t indicative of how the team performed.
“A couple of matches could’ve went either way, but overall I liked the intensity that we had and the fight we had,” Lopez said.
A day later, Selma competed at Dinuba High School for the Central Sequoia League Dual Championships. The Bears would place first with a 4-0 record. Selma defeated Hanford West 72-0 in round one, followed by a 42-28 victory over rival Kingsburg in the second round. In round three, the Bears defeated Exeter 48-30 and Selma ended the tournament defeating host Dinuba 58-18 in the fourth round.
Selma will begin its postseason run at the CIF Central Section Division I tournament on Feb. 8-9.