BAKERSIFELD — Elijah Jackson and Michael Clemmensen secured spots on the Atascadero High wrestling room wall and in the school’s history books Saturday.
The Greyhound seniors became the first two individuals to reach the state medal round in the same season in school history during the CIF State Championship at Rabobank Arena.
“We’ve had CIF finalists and state placers but we’ve never had two state placers in the same year,” Atascadero coach Jeff Spiller said. “In the past, we’ve had kids that should have placed but just weren’t able to put it together.
“To have two kids put it together at the end of the year is pretty cool.”
Jackson locked up a fifth-place finish, defeating Sanger’s Dylan Rodriguez 9-3 in the 160-pound class, while Clemmensen placed sixth, falling to Clovis Buchanan’s Manny Marin in the fifth-place match at 103 pounds.
The medal-round finishes also gave the Greyhounds their highest team finish (19th place) and highest team-point total (40 points) in school history. The CIF all-state honors are also the first for an Atascadero wrestler since Jack Robinette placed sixth in 2008.
Jackson’s fifth-place showing was the best finish in school history since Nate Willard finished second at 189 pounds in 2006.
Both Jackson and Clemmensen entered Saturday’s consolation bracket needing a victory in their first match to secure a state medal. Both reached the medal round in completely different ways.
While Jackson raised his arms up and saluted the crowd after defeating Poway’s Henry Donahue 9-4 in the consolation bracket, Clemmensen just had to show up to his match.
“Winning that first match this morning was a dream match,” Jackson said. “Making it to fifth was beyond my expectations.”
Jackson entered the state tournament unranked and won four consecutive matches in the consolation bracket before falling to McNair’s Jim Wilson in the consolation semifinals, setting up his fifth-place match.
While Jackson earned a hard-fought victory to advance into the medal round, Clemmenson won by default as his scheduled opponent — Brawley’s Vincent Elizald — had to withdraw because of illness. The unusual result marks the second time in four years that an Atascadero wrestler reached the medal podium because of an opponent’s illness.
“I thought we got that once-in-a-lifetime situation three years ago,” said Spiller of Robinette’s trip to the medal round in 2008. “I guess (Elizalde) was too sick to even move.”
Clemmensen made the most of his extra time of recovery and earned a technical fall win over Otay Ranch’s Tommy Espinoza to earn a spot in the consolation semifinals. Clemmensen lost to Porterville’s Mason Pengilly 2-1 to set up his final match with Marin.
Clemmensen previously defeated Marin in the second round of the tournament but lost 6-5 to the Buchanan High wrestler.
“I was hoping for fifth and after I lost in the quarterfinals (Friday) night I was iffy,” Clemmensen said. “I looked over the brackets and saw who was in the consolation round and said I still had a chance to place.”