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Clovis Wrestlers Clean up at State Meet as Zinkins Write a New Chapter in Family Legacy
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By Edward Smith
Published 2 months ago on
February 29, 2024

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Buchanan High’s Rocklin Zinkin, Clovis High’s Nikade Zinkin, and Clovis East’s Isabella Marie Gonzales take state titles.

Buchanan High School finishes second and Clovis High fifth among boys; Clovis East ninth in girls competition.

Rocklin and Nikade Zinkin continue the legacy of the family name in the wrestling.


Clovis wrestlers made quite the showing last weekend with Buchanan High’s Rocklin Zinkin, Clovis High’s Nikade Zinkin, and Clovis East’s Isabella Marie Gonzales taking state titles in Bakersfield.

For Gonzales, the final victory made her a two-time California champion. She will next compete in the women’s national tournament in Spokane, Washington, in April.

Rocklin Zinkin, sophomore at Buchanan and a member of the next generation of the Zinkin wrestling dynasty, took first place in the 113-pound division. His cousin, Nikade Zinkin, a junior at Clovis High School, won the 126-pound division.

Gonzales’ win in the 115-pound division is but another step in her wrestling journey.

She’ll spend this week eating and resting up. “Next week, we’ll start grinding it out again and preparing for the women’s nationals,” said Clovis East girls coach Ray Blanco.

 

In the Same Year, Zinkin Boys Do What Their Fathers Didn’t

The wins for Rocklin and Nikade, three weight divisions and a high school apart, surpassed the high school success that evaded their fathers, said Nick Zinkin, father of Rocklin. Nikade is the son of Nick’s brother, Harold.

While the three sons of wrestling great DeWayne Zinkin had their own accolades in the sport across the nation, one achievement that evaded them was making it past the semifinals at the CIF championships.

The National Wrestling Hall of Fame inducted Rocklin’s and Nikade’s grandfather, DeWayne Zinkin, not only for his skills but for what he’s done for the sport.

Buchanan hosts the Zinkin Classic Wrestling Invitational every December. The meet attracts the best high school teams around the state, and it gives competitors a chance to see who will be at the state tournament.

“The culmination has always been the high school state tournament,” said Nick Zinkin, father of Rocklin. “It’s the final tournament in high school.”

Buchanan High School Sophomore Rocklin Zinkin wrestles in his finals match, Saturday, Feb.24, 2024, at the CIF State Wrestling Championship. (Special to GV Wire)

For 35 years, the tournament scarred the Zinkin brothers, Nick said. Then, in the same year, Rocklin and Nikade delivered the family the title that had long eluded them.

“Three matches apart, Rocklin did it at 115, and then three weight classes later, my nephew did it at 126,” Zinkin said.

Rocklin was the No. 2 seed going into the tournament. Earlier in the year, Rocklin twice lost to his finals opponent, two-time All-American Edwin Sierra of Poway High School, a senior.

Those two losses were the only ones for Rocklin the entire season.

Given Sierra’s size, age, and history, Nick Zinkin had reservations about Rocklin’s chances.

“It was a very big win in and of itself, let alone to happen in the state finals, it was just — it was very exciting,” Zinkin said.

Clovis High School junior Nikade Zinkin stands atop the CIF State Wrestling Championship podium after winning first place, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. (Special to GV Wire)

Win in Bakersfield Prepares Clovis East Girl for National, International Competitions

Gonzales won by first-round pins until her finals match, which she won, 6-1, over junior Kylee Golz of Trabuco Hills.

Clovis East sophomore Jaelyn Unpingco placed sixth at 140 pounds.

Blanco said they’ve been trying to build the girls’ wrestling program at Clovis East. And their efforts are paying off.

Gonzales wrestles all year and has been doing so since the fifth grade, Blanco said. She’s been a gold medalist at the Pan Am Wrestling Championships for the last three years.

Last year, Gonzales just missed qualifying for the world team by placing second in the U.S. Nationals. Given Gonzales’ prowess in the sport, Blanco says she’ll have her pick of universities to attend.

Buchanan Places Second Behind Poway

Buchanan finished second in the boys team competition behind Poway High School and Clovis High placed fifth.

Clovis East placed ninth on the girl’s side, which was won by Walnut.

Buchanan wrestling coach Troy Tirapelle said this is the happiest he’s been in a while.

“We didn’t walk away as champions, but I thought like, our kids performed extremely well, they were prepared extremely well, and like a testament to them, like where they started out at and where we finished, it was outstanding,” Tiparelle said.

The state title was the fifth straight for Poway, which is in suburban San Diego.

The Buchanan High School wrestling team took second place in the CIF State Wrestling Championships, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. (Special to GV Wire)

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Edward Smith,
Multimedia Journalist
Edward Smith began reporting for GV Wire in May 2023. His reporting career began at Fresno City College, graduating with an associate degree in journalism. After leaving school he spent the next six years with The Business Journal, doing research for the publication as well as covering the restaurant industry. Soon after, he took on real estate and agriculture beats, winning multiple awards at the local, state and national level. You can contact Edward at 559-440-8372 or at Edward.Smith@gvwire.com.

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