State School of the Year: Buchanan

Members of the Clovis Buchanan girls track team (left) pose with their medals after they won team championship at CIF state meet held on their home track. At right is only part of a massive group of Buchanan wrestlers that gathered for team photo after they won their fourth straight CIF state championship back in February at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield. Photos: Buchanan Track & Field ( & KMPH TV.

After basically finishing second for the previous school year, the Bears wind up on top of the state for overall sports excellence for the second time. Winning CIF state titles in boys wrestling and girls track wasn’t enough as three other schools also won a pair of CIF state titles. The difference was superior depth compared to the other three but it definitely was a close call. Go inside for all the details.

For State Schools of the Year by gender, by division plus writeups of other Top 10 schools for 2018-19, CLICK HERE.

For honorable mention State Schools of the Year, CLICK HERE.


Counting up all of the CIF state team titles that were won during the 2018-19 school year, there were four schools that pulled off the feat of winning two championships.

All four — Buchanan of Clovis (boys wrestling, girls track); Mater Dei of Santa Ana (football, girls volleyball); Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth (boys & girls basketball) and Great Oak of Temecula (boys & girls cross country) — therefore had to have all of the rest of its teams checked out in all sports to decide which one should be the 2018-19 Cal-Hi Sports State School of the Year.

The final nod went to Buchanan. This is the second time the Bears have been State School of the Year (the first was for 2005-06). It’s also the fifth time for a school in the Clovis Unified School District. The first is shown for Clovis High for 1974-75. The other three are for Clovis West of Fresno for 1993-94, 1998-99 and 2004-05.

The dominance of Buchanan’s two CIF state champions helped, too.

In wrestling, head coach Troy Tirapelle’s program made it four state titles in a row in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year. The Bears won with 235 points compared to second-place Gilroy with 182. Eight Buchanan wrestlers were in the top five in a CIF state championship event that does not have divisional breakdowns. Two of those eight won titles with Matthew Olguin repeating at 160 pounds and capping a 46-0 season. The other state champ was sophomore Maximo Renteria at 120 pounds. The girls wrestling team added to the school’s resume of success by having state champion Cristelle Rodriguez at 101 pounds.

In girls track and competing on their home track at Veterans Stadium, the Bears wound up rolling to a team title in what was forecast before the meet to be more of a wide open chase. Buchanan finished with 50 points to far outpace second-place Silver Creek of San Jose (28) and Long Beach Poly (25). Shelby Daniele led the way by winning the 200-meter dash (23.73 seconds), getting a seventh-place spot in the 100 and running on the 4×100 relay. Meagen Lowe was second in the 1600-meter run and was third in the 3200 (right behind teammate Corie Smith).

Earlier in the school year, Lowe was second in the CIF Division I state finals in cross country. She helped the Bears to a sixth-place finish in the team standings.

Buchanan athletic director James Gambrell is joined above by assistant athletic director John Jay and administrative assistant Erika Graham. Photo: Buchanan Athletics.

In addition to the girls track-girls cross country results, Buchanan also showed strength in boys track-boys cross country. The Bears were 10th in team standings at the CIF state track meet behind a second and third place finish in the discus by Christian Johnson and Kyler Van Grouw. They were 19th in the D1 boys cross country state final.

Four other Buchanan teams that were state-ranked during their seasons were in football, girls volleyball, baseball and softball.

With highly recruited junior running back Kendall Milton leading the way, the Bears were 10-2 on the gridiron and were in the State Top 20 (pushing toward the top 10) with losses only to De La Salle (Concord) and Central (Fresno) until a 24-23 upset loss in the CIF Central Section D1 semis to Liberty (Bakersfield) ended the season early. Most of the top players, however, will be back (including Milton) and the first game of the upcoming season at home against Narbonne (Harbor City) will be on national TV.

The girls volleyball team won the CIF Central Section D1 title and then reached the CIF Open Division semifinals before it suffered an avenging loss to section rival Central of Fresno. The Bears ended 36-11 and were led by senior honors winners Ashley Dittman (433 kills) and Mikayla Weiss (one of state’s top setters headed to Fresno State).

The baseball team went 26-4 and was No. 14 in the final overall State Top 50. The Bears were 3-0 in games against CIF Central Section champ Clovis, but were upset in the playoffs by Frontier of Bakersfield. All-State honorees Brady Hormel (Nevada) and Brock Jones (Stanford) led the way.

Head coach Dean Gregory and the softball team also had a great record (24-4) and like baseball didn’t get it done in the D1 section playoffs. Still, the Bears were considered a State Top 20 team in the regular season. Junior All-State Underclass Emily Cazares (committed to Tennessee) was their top player.

Yet one more team to mention at the school would be in boys swimming. The Bears were shown at 14th in the nation in the final dual meet rankings compiled by the NISCA.

Congratulations to athletic director James Gambrell (whose son Grant was just picked in the 3rd round of the MLB Draft after pitching three seasons at Oregon State) and to all of the school’s coaches and athletes for a year of accomplishments that was without doubt one of the school’s best ever.

Cal-Hi Sports State Schools of the Year
All-Time List

Mater Dei boys basketball head coach Gary McKnight celebrated his 1,000th win as one of that school’s many highlights during 2017-18 school year. Photo: @MD_Athletics/

2018-19 – Buchanan (Clovis)
2017-18 – Mater Dei (Santa Ana)
2016-17 – Cathedral Catholic (San Diego)
2015-16 – Torrey Pines (San Diego)
2014-15 – Torrey Pines (San Diego)
2013-14 – Mater Dei (Santa Ana)
2012-13 – Mater Dei (Santa Ana)
2011-12 – De La Salle (Concord)
2010-11 – Long Beach Poly (Long Beach)
2009-10 – Junipero Serra (Gardena)
2008-09 – Archbishop Mitty (San Jose)
2007-08 – Long Beach Poly (Long Beach)
2006-07 – Archbishop Mitty (San Jose)
2005-06 – Buchanan (Clovis)
2004-05 – Clovis West (Fresno)
2003-04 – De La Salle (Concord)
2002-03 – Torrey Pines (San Diego)
2001-02 – Long Beach Poly (Long Beach)
2000-01 – Long Beach Poly (Long Beach)
1999-00 – De La Salle (Concord)
1998-99 – Clovis West (Fresno)
1997-98 – Santa Margarita (Rancho SM)
1996-97 – Mater Dei (Santa Ana)
1995-96 – De La Salle (Concord)
1994-95 – Mater Dei (Santa Ana)
1993-94 – Clovis West (Fresno)
1992-93 – Esperanza (Anaheim)
1991-92 – Mater Dei (Santa Ana)
1990-91 – Poway
1989-90 – Bakersfield
1988-89 – Corona del Mar (Newport Beach)
1987-88 – Capistrano Valley (Mission Viejo)
1986-87 – Mission Viejo
1985-86 – Bellarmine (San Jose)
1984-85 – Bellarmine (San Jose)
1983-84 – Cordova (Rancho Cordova)
1982-83 – St. Francis (Mountain View)
1981-82 – Mission Viejo
1980-81 – Long Beach Poly (Long Beach)
1979-80 – Berkeley
1978-79 – Mt. Whitney (Visalia)
1977-78 – Andrew Hill (San Jose)
1976-77 – Pasadena
1975-76 – San Fernando
1974-75 – Clovis
1973-74 – Kearny (San Diego)
1972-73 – Monte Vista (Spring Valley)
1971-72 – Ygnacio Valley (Concord)
1970-71 – Lompoc
1969-70 – Blair (Pasadena)
1968-69 – Compton
1967-68 – Homestead (Cupertino)
1966-67 – El Rancho (Pico Rivera)
1965-66 – El Segundo
1964-65 – Long Beach Poly (Long Beach)
1963-64 – Long Beach Poly (Long Beach)
1962-63 – Santa Clara
1961-62 – McClymonds (Oakland)
1960-61 – Compton
1959-60 – Long Beach Poly (Long Beach)
1958-59 – Long Beach Poly (Long Beach)
1957-58 – Berkeley
1956-57 – Fresno
1955-56 – Jefferson (Los Angeles)
1954-55 – Centennial (Compton)
1953-54 – St. Ignatius (San Francisco)
1952-53 – Santa Monica
1951-52 – Compton
1950-51 – Compton
1949-50 – Jefferson (Los Angeles)

Note: All-time list extends back to 1890-91 in the Cal-Hi Sports State Record Book and Almanac. All selections prior to 1980 made retroactively through research by the late Nelson Tennis, founder of Cal-Hi Sports.

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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