Around the TRAC: Come on down and check out the The TRAC Showcase Showdown

By Paul Meadors

The ultimate prize in the long-running gameshow “The Price is Right” is winning the Showcase, usually a mix of cars, trips and fancy furniture. But first you must get there by spinning that giant, multi-colored wheel and getting as close to a dollar as possible in the Showcase Showdown. Then Vanna White comes out and models a bunch of stuff you can win. Wait, wrong show, but you get the picture. And call me old school, but give me Bob Barker over Drew Carey any day.
The Tri-River Athletic Conference had a Showcase Showdown of its own recently: the wrestlers from Clovis High traveled to Illinois, the Buchanan boys’ soccer team rose to a No. 1 So-Cal state ranking, Central High boys claimed the first TRAC upset in basketball and took part in an historical community event, and the Clovis West girls’ team put the pedal to the metal to begin league.
Check out all the exciting action in TRAC athletics and remember, you never, ever know what’s behind curtain number one. (Cue the yodeler from the Cliff Hangers game).
Central High boys’ basketball (A new carrrrr!)

The Grizzlies showed their community support by participating in the Martin Luther King, Jr. march in downtown Fresno, and the next day made themselves known on the basketball court
in a big win at home versus Clovis West (54-43) on Tuesday, Jan. 20.

Central boys’ basketball director of sport Myron Epps pitched the idea to his administrators and they fell in love with the idea of the team joining the march. This was an annual event he started while coaching at Mission Oak High School in Tulare and the lessons instilled reach far beyond the game of basketball.

“We want to develop our student athletes into mature young men on and off the court,” said Epps in his first year coaching at Central. “We want them to have all the tools to succeed after high school, whether it be pursuing basketball or another life goal backed with a good education to support their future desires.”

The next day, they welcomed the Eagles from Clovis West in a key early season TRAC game and came away with a win that sent waves throughout the conference. Senior Devon Givens scored 17 points and pre-season underclassman of the year, freshman Cash Williams, chipped in with eight in the low-scoring game. Just as the TRAC basketball preview suggested (tip of the day – you can still read it online in the Jan. 14 issue at clovisroundup.com), the Grizzlies have the ability to beat any team on any given night.

The win over Clovis West was sandwiched between victories over Buchanan on Jan. 16 and Clovis High on Jan. 23 to start off TRAC 3-0.

“The boys played hard versus a very well-coached Clovis High team,” said Epps after the game, referring to Clovis head coach and five-time coach of the year John Jones. “We handled their pressure well in the 4th quarter and were able to pull away.”

The schedule doesn’t let up with Clovis North (2-1) and Clovis East (2-1) waiting to close out the first round of league.

Clovis High Wrestling (A trip to beautiful Tahiti!!)

Well, not quite Tahiti, but the No. 1 ranked high school wrestling team in the state did board a plane to Illinois to take on the best the Prairie State had to offer. They didn’t accept the challenge looking for a vacation, as they were set to face four nationally ranked teams, including the nation’s No. 1 team, Oak Park River Forest.

The Cougars swept through their first five matches easily, which set up the final showdown with the home-town heroes. Despite winning four matches with wrestlers Justin Mejia (113), Khristian Olivas (138), Adam Prentice (195) and Seth Nevills (220), they lost their first meet of the season. But through it all, co-coach Steve Tirapelle said the trip was worth the experience alone.

“I felt the trip was worthwhile,” said Tirapelle. “Exposing our boys to the top high school wrestling programs and representing Clovis and CUSD programs to the elite wrestling programs in the nation was an honor for the participants, parents and coaches.”

And you bet the wrestling program way over here on the West Coast is known around the state of Illinois. Coach Tirapelle’s oldest son and now assistant coach, Adam, was a three-time Division I All-American at the University of Illinois, winning the NCAA Championship in 2001. The Clovis connections and respect run deep.

Summing up the trip, Tirapelle said: “Eric Siebert, the Sandburg head coach (who Clovis beat 42-10), spoke to our team after the duals and thanked the boys for coming to Illinois and made a point to inform them that Illinois high school wrestling was looking forward to our arrival and the competition. He was impressed that we would take on such a difficult task, traveling across the country and wrestling two days against Illinois’ top programs.”

Buchanan High, the state’s No. 4 ranked team, is gearing up for Clovis in a highly anticipated meet on Thursday, Jan. 29.

Buchanan soccer (A pair of his and her motorcycles!)

So how did the newly anointed No. 1 boys’ soccer team in the California-South region respond in their match against TRAC rival Clovis West on Wednesday, Jan. 21? How about down 0-1 at halftime. So how did they respond after being down at halftime? By dominating possession and highlight-reeling goals from Immanuel Andrade and Viktor Dolberg for a 2-1 victory.

Andrade scored an impressive 35-foot header for the equalizer and Dolberg hammered home the winning goal. The Bears improved to 12-1-1 overall and 4-0 in TRAC after defeating Clovis on Jan. 23 behind two goals from Ryan Arkelian.

The girls’ team at Buchanan is pretty good too, but share the lead with the Clovis North Broncos in the TRAC. In the match against Clovis West, the Bears received goals from Caitlyn Kruetz and Haylee Lopez for a 2-1 win. On Friday, Jan. 23 they beat Clovis High 1-0. The team is coached by Orlando Ramirez and are off to a 4-0 start in league.

Clovis West girls’ basketball (Your very own speedboat!)

The Golden Eagles can put up points, there’s no doubts there. To open up TRAC play they beat Clovis North 69-40, then ran over Central 73-28 and topped it off by overwhelming Buchanan 83-35. If my Common Core math is correct, they outscored their opponents by a total of……wait for it…….122 points. I’d say that’s hitting full-throttle.

This squad isn’t doing it with a core group of seniors either. In the Central game, it was a sophomore-led charge with Danae Marquez (15), Megan Anderson (13), Sarah Bates (12) and Bre’yanna Sanders (11). Against Buchanan, it was Bates (18), Anderson (17) and Marquez (16) some more. Their run through the TRAC very well could be more of the same for years to come. Scary.

Paul Meadors can be reached at paulmeadors@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @paulmeadors.