State Athlete of Year: Nick Nevills

The 2013-14 State Athlete of the Year was in the spotlight at the CIF state finals for four straight years. Photo: Tony Rotundo/

The 2013-14 State Athlete of the Year was in the spotlight at the CIF state finals for four straight years. Photo: Tony Rotundo/

It’s a close call between the three-time CIF heavyweight wrestling champ (who also starred in football) and the electrifying Adoree’ Jackson of Gardena Serra (for football and track), but unfortunately for Jackson we’ll never know how he would have done at his final CIF state track meet.

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A run of four straight Cal-Hi Sports State Boys Athlete of the Year winners who were all basically doing the same thing – using their speed to dominate on the football field and at track meets – has been stopped by an athlete who has dominated in two sports using much different physical traits.

Although we could have still gone ahead and selected 2012-13 State Junior Athlete of the Year Adoree’ Jackson from Serra of Gardena as the overall winner for 2013-14, the vote instead went to Nick Nevills of Clovis, who probably ranks as the greatest 285-pound or heavyweight wrestler in state history and who also happened to shine as a defensive lineman in football.

Nevills used the power and leverage from wrestling to also shine as a football player. Photo:

Nevills used the power and leverage from wrestling to also shine as a football player. Photo:

Nevills has been among the top three or four State Athlete of the Year contenders for the Class of 2014 since he was a freshman. In fact, he was the 2010-11 State Freshman Athlete of the Year primarily because he became the first freshman to win in the heaviest weight class of the CIF state finals.

Since then, and especially in the last two seasons, Nevills has become the No. 1 ranked 285-pound or heavyweight wrestler in the nation and has continued to shine as a 6-foot-2, 285-pound defensive tackle in football.

The last Cal-Hi Sports State Athlete of the Year from the CIF Central Section also is the last one to have won it for the same two combination of sports. That would be Lorenzo Neal of Lemoore for 1988-89. He went on to wrestle at Fresno State, but eventually went to the NFL where he became one of the most feared fullbacks in the game.

How Nevills Nailed It Down

In this year’s CIF 285-pound final, Nevills capped a huge meet for his team with a second-round pin of Nour Abdullatif from Roosevelt of Los Angeles. The win not only made it two straight individual titles for him and three in all, but gave Clovis a final team scoring total of 197.5 points, which was easily enough for a fourth straight state crown under co-head coaches Steve Tirapelle and Ben Holscher.

Entering that final CIF match, Abdullatif was 40-0 with 38 pins, but he was no match for Nevills. The Clovis standout ended 50-0 with 46 pins, which came after a junior season when he went 53-0 with 44 pins.

Just one week after winning at the CIF state finals, Nevills went to Pittsburgh for the annual Dapper Dan Classic, a national event where he faced off against four-time Pennsylvania state champ and local legend Thomas Haines. Despite the home folks roaring for him to lose, Nevills prevailed 5-3 and no doubt convinced many in the wrestling powerhouse state to become fans of him when he starts wrestling for Penn State this fall.

Nevills, who has been ranked as the nation’s No. 1 heavyweight for two years, ended his career with a 105-match win streak, a final career record of 200-5 and with 142 career pins. Totals that he has that will go into the state record book are: win streak, career record, career wins, season record, season wins and season pins. His 142 career pins may actually be a state record but we have to look into the last four seasons to check for higher totals.

In football, Nevills was a three-year starter for the Cougars. He played some on offense (catching TD passes as a tight end both in his sophomore and junior seasons) but was more noted as a defensive lineman. He was named third team all-state and was the Tri-River Athletic Conference Co-Lineman of the Year. The TRAC is regarded as one of the toughest leagues in the state. Nevills also was recorded with 50 tackles and six sacks for his junior season.

A Cell Phone Viewing From Hell

It’s easy to say that if Nevills had not been chosen as the State Athlete of the Year that instead it would have gone to Gardena Serra’s Jackson.

Clovis High's Nick Nevills poses with coaches at recent awards ceremony in which he was named the top scholar-athlete in the Fresno area. Photo: Clovis USD.

Clovis High’s Nick Nevills poses with coaches at recent awards ceremony in which he was named the top scholar-athlete in the Fresno area. Photo: Clovis Unified School District.

In football, Jackson was named the Mr. Football State Player of the Year in leading Serra to a 13-1 record. Then in track, he had the nation’s leading effort in the long jump. But Jackson didn’t get the opportunity to possibly win a second CIF state long jump title in three years after he was disqualified in the CIF Southern Section Division IV prelims for watching a cell phone video of himself that was shown to him by a coach.

Jackson appealed the disqualification and had a case before an L.A. Superior Court judge in an attempt to get an injunction. The effort failed, so Jackson’s track season effectively came to an end.

The way that Nevills wrestled this year, however, Jackson might have had to jump past 26 feet to beat him for State Athlete of the Year. Nevills’ efforts were that strong.


(Selected by Cal-Hi Sports)

Sherman Oaks Notre Dame's Khalfani Muhammad was last year's honoree. Photo: Tom Hauck.

Notre Dame’s Khalfani Muhammad was last year’s honoree. Photo: Tom Hauck.

2013-14 – Nick Nevills, Clovis (football, wrestling)
2012-13 – Khalfani Muhammad, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame (football, track)
2011-12 – Khalfani Muhammad, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame (football, track)
2010-11 – Marqise Lee, Gardena Serra (football, basketball, track)
2009-10 – Robert Woods, Gardena Serra (football, track)
2008-09 – Tyler Gaffney, San Diego Cathedral Catholic (football, baseball)
2007-08 – German Fernandez, Riverbank (cross country, track)
2006-07 – Mike Stanton, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame (football, basketball, baseball)
2005-06 – Chase Budinger, Carlsbad La Costa Canyon (basketball, volleyball)
2004-05 – Drew Shiller, Burlingame (football, basketball, baseball)
2003-04 – Kenny O’Neal, Oakland Skyline (football, track)
2002-03 – Steve Smith, Woodland Hills Taft (football, basketball, track)
2001-02 – Aaron Piersol, Newport Beach Newport Harbor (swimming)
2000-01 – Antwon Guidry, San Jose Leigh (football, basketball, track)
1999-00 – D.J. Williams, Concord De La Salle (football, track)
1998-99 – Chris Lewis, Long Beach Poly (football, volleyball)
1997-98 – C.C. Sabathia, Vallejo (football, basketball, baseball)
1996-97 – Ken-Yon Rambo, Long Beach Poly (football, track)
1995-96 – Chris Claiborne, Riverside J.W. North (football, basketball)
1994-95 – Eric Guerrero, San Jose Independence (wrestling)
1993-94 – McKay Christensen, Fresno Clovis West (football, baseball)
1992-93 – Calvin Harrison, Salinas North Salinas (track, basketball)
1991-92 – Jason Kidd, Alameda St. Joseph (basketball, baseball)
1990-91 – Rob Johnson, El Toro (football, basketball, baseball)
1989-90 – Ryan Hancock, Cupertino Monta Vista (football, baseball)
1988-89 – Lorenzo Neal, Lemoore (football, wrestling)
1987-88 – Adam Keefe, Irvine Woodbridge (basketball, volleyball)
1986-87 – LeRon Ellis, Santa Ana Mater Dei (water polo, basketball, track)
1985-86 – Brian Johnson, Oakland Skyline (football, baseball)
1984-85 – George Porter, Lompoc Cabrillo (basketball, track)
1983-84 – John Williams, L. A. Crenshaw (basketball)
1982-83 – Mike Smith, Hacienda Heights Los Altos (football, basketball, volleyball)
1981-82 – Jim McCullough, Hemet (football, wrestling)
1980-81 – Kevin Willhite, Rancho Cordova (football, track)
1979-80 – Darryl Strawberry, L.A. Crenshaw (basketball, baseball)
1978-79 – John Elway, Granada Hills (football, baseball)
1977-78 – Jesse Vasallo, Mission Viejo (swimming)
1976-77 – Brian Goodell, Mission Viejo (swimming)
1975-76 – Greg Louganis, El Cajon Valhalla & Santa Ana (diving)
1974-75 – Bill Cartwright, Elk Grove (basketball)
1973-74 – Tim Shaw, Long Beach Wilson (water polo, swimming)
1972-73 – Lonnie Shelton, Bakersfield Foothill (football, track)
1971-72 – Scott McGregor, El Segundo (baseball)
1970-71 – Anthony Davis, San Fernando (football, baseball)
1969-70 – James McAlister, Pasadena Blair (football, track)
1968-69 – Jeff Burroughs, Long Beach Wilson (football, baseball)
1967-68 – Mark Spitz, Santa Clara (water polo, swimming)
1966-67 – Mickey Cureton, Compton Centennial (football)
1965-66 – Tim Danielson, Chula Vista (track)
1964-65 – Paul Wilson, Downey Warren (track)
1963-64 – Don Schollander, Santa Clara (water polo, swimming)
1962-63 – Tommie Smith, Lemoore (football, basketball, track)
1961-62 – Forrest Beaty, Glendale Hoover (track)
1960-61 – Ulis Williams, Compton (track)
1959-60 – Dennis Ralston, Bakersfield (tennis)
1958-59 – Dale Story, Orange (track)
1957-58 – Willie Davis, L. A. Roosevelt (basketball, baseball, track)
1956-57 – Bill Kilmer, Azusa Citrus (football, basketball, baseball)
1955-56 – Fred Lacour, S.F. St. Ignatius (basketball)
1954-55 – Dick Bass, Vallejo (football)
1953-54 – Don Bowden, San Jose Lincoln (track)
1952-53 – Ronnie Knox, Santa Monica (football)
1951-52 – Marty Keough, Pomona (football, basketball, baseball)
1950-51 – Charlie Powell, San Diego (football, baseball)
1949-50 – Lang Stanley, L.A. Jefferson (track)
1948-49 – John Henry Johnson, Pittsburg (football, basketball, track)
1947-48 – Bob Mathias, Tulare (football, track)
1946-47 – Bill McColl, San Diego Hoover (football, basketball, baseball)
1945-46 – George Stanich, Sacramento (basketball, baseball, track)
1944-45 – Jackie Jensen, Oakland (football, baseball)
1943-44 – Bill Sharman, Porterville (football, basketball, baseball)
1942-43 – Glenn Davis, La Verne Bonita (football, baseball)
1941-42 – Irv Noren, Pasadena (basketball, baseball)
1940-41 – Tommie Fears, Los Angeles Manual Arts (football)
1939-40 – Howie Dallmar, San Francisco Lowell (basketball, baseball)
1938-39 – Jim Jurkovich, Fresno (football, track)
1937-38 – Frankie Albert, Glendale (football, baseball, tennis)
1936-37 – Jackie Robinson, Pasadena Muir (football, basketball, baseball)
1935-36 – Bobby Doerr, Los Angeles Fremont (pro baseball)
1934-35 – Ted Williams, San Diego Hoover (baseball)
1933-34 – Hank Luisetti, San Francisco Galileo (basketball)
1932-33 – Don Budge, Oakland University (tennis)
1931-32 – Corney Johnson, Los Angeles (track)
1930-31 – Frank Sobrero, Oakland (football, basketball, baseball)

Note: List continues back to 1890-91 in the Cal-Hi Sports State Record Book & Almanac. All selections prior to 1978-79 done retroactively through research by our founder, the late Nelson Tennis.

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports

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  1. Jared Atkinson
    Posted July 22, 2014 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Great article. One correction is that McKay Christensen, Fresno Clovis West (football, baseball) won the honor more recently than Lorenzo Neal.

    • Mark Tennis
      Posted July 24, 2014 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

      I was thinking of kids who were wrestlers, footballers with reference to Neal. McKay was later for sure. I remember doing a cover story on him for our magazine and visited with family at his house. Great group of people. Hope they’re all doing well.

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