Escalon will welcome some of the area’s best wrestlers in to town for the annual Lloyd C. Engel Wrestling Tournament on Friday and Saturday. Competition will start each day at 9 a.m., kicking off with the first day of wrestling on Friday, Jan. 6.
The Cougars will be well represented at the tournament, said head coach Derek Scott, and he’s hoping many will be in the medal round battles on Saturday.
Earlier, just before the New Year, nine Cougar wrestlers went to Reno and three of them finished in the top 12 of their weight classes in the prestigious tournament.
“This tournament was tougher than what it has been in the past,” explained Escalon head coach Derek Scott. “There were about 90 teams there, a lot more good kids there than in the past few years.”
Breaking into the top 12 for Escalon were Marco Mendoza, who had the best finish of all Cougars, taking home eighth place honors.
“He’s coming back from an injury, he battled and got eighth place, going 6-3 at 170 pounds,” Scott said. “Also doing really good, Alex Jimenez went 5-2 at 120 pounds, he did not get a medal but he wrestled well and a quadruple overtime loss took him out of the medal round. That was the best he has looked at a big tournament.”
Another exciting weight class for Escalon was 152, as Christian Manzo stepped up big for the Cougars.
“He lost 1-0 in the match to get to the medal round,” Scott pointed out, adding that all of Manzo’s matches were hard fought and most decided by just a point or two. He went 5-2 over the two days of the tournament.
“Other kids that wrestled well were Braiden Vega, he went 1-2 at 106 pounds and Ethan Krieger, he went 1-2 at 145 pounds, it was also the best he has looked at a big tournament,” Scott said.
Also making the trip and giving solid efforts for the Cougars were Livius Seung, 132 pounds; David Ryan, 160; Stephen Mendez, 182; Alfredo Zarate, 195.
This week, the Cougars will host Hughson in the first Trans-Valley League action of the season, Wednesday night, Jan. 4 starting at 6:30 p.m. and wrap up the week with the Engel tournament.