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Top teams head to Liberty’s Big XII

Three of the top wrestling teams in the state will be among the 16 teams to converge at Ranchos Middle School on Saturday at the second annual Big XII Duals, hosted by Liberty and head coach Jay Pumarejo.


What originally started with 12 teams, hence the Big XII moniker, expanded to 16 teams this year and attracted the Buchanan-Clovis Bears, ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 2 in the nation.


“We wanted to have teams want to return, but also want to make it to attract other teams,” Pumarejo said.


Selma, ranked No. 3 in the state and No. 28 in the nation, and Clovis North, ranked No. 8 in the state, join Buchanan as the ranked teams.


“Selma is such a powerhouse in the valley and they will be able to wrestle some of the teams in the TRAC,” Pumarejo said. “We tried to work the brackets so teams won’t wrestle teams they see in league.”


Buchanan (TRAC), Kerman (North Sequoia League), Madera (County-Metro Athletic Conference), Selma (Central Sequoia League), Shafter (South Sequoia League) and Sunnyside-Fresno (North Yosemite League) were league champions last season.


“It’s the way the schedule worked out,” Pumarejo said. “Buchanan moved their big tournament and it opened our tournament up for them. At the same time, they know we are going to run a quality event to make it worth coming.”


In addition to the duals, the Hawks will host a junior varsity individual tournament on Friday.


The tournament will consist of five dual meets for each team. Teams will wrestle three schools in their pool and then wrestle in two more matches in bracket play (semifinals and championship).


“We will have six mats in the gym and two mats in the multipurpose room,” Pumarejo said.


Wrestling begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday and Pumarejo hopes to be done by about 5:30 p.m.


“Last year, about half of the teams were able to go home before dark,” he said.


Another attraction for teams is that the tournament is totally a dual meet. Each of the teams’ wrestlers will be together for most of the day and spectators will be able to sit and watch their team in three matches.


Also wrestling in the Big XII Duals are Central-Fresno, Clovis East, Corcoran, Dos Palos, El Diamante-Visalia, Merced, Mission Oak-Tulare and Sanger.


Liberty begins its day wrestling Clovis North, Dos Palos and Mission Oak in its pool. Meanwhile, Madera faces Buchanan, Shafter and Sunnyside.


“It will help put Liberty on the map,” Pumarejo said. “We will be able to show off the Madera Ranchos.”