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Champions Crowned At Annual Mel Focha Tournament
Casillas pix.jpg
Locked in a fierce battle, Julia Casillas of Escalon, left, faced off against Oakdale’s Jessica Jericoff in this 131-pound bout at the Mel Focha Tournament in Escalon on Saturday, Dec. 15. Casillas took first place honors.

Escalon’s JV wrestlers and the Lady Cougar grapplers had a strong showing at Saturday’s annual Mel Focha Tournament, hosted at EHS and sponsored by Grossi Fabrication, the Larry Grossi family.

At the JV level, the Cougars had 12 wrestlers hit the mats and nine of them left the tournament with some hardware.

Ryan Trick took third place at 106 pounds while Pietro Orlando took third at 132 pounds.

“This was by far his best tournament, he was really aggressive,” head coach Derek Scott said of Orlando’s effort.

Also finishing in third place for the JV Cougars were Nathan Miranda at 160 pounds and Sebastian Snow at 195 pounds.

At heavyweight, Dylan Dugo was 3-1 and captured second place honors.

“Three of his four matches were decided by two points or less,” noted Scott.

At 182 pounds, Jacob Redding compiled a 3-1 mark for second place.

“He lost in triple overtime,” Scott said of the championship match. “He had a few takedowns but lost it right at the end with some bad luck.”

Champions emerging for the JV team were freshman Austin Roberts at 132 pounds, freshman Casey Vassallo at 145 and Donnie Smith at 195 pounds.

“Austin has been a pleasant surprise this season, he’ll see some varsity action,” Scott said, adding that Roberts went 3-0 for his first place finish.

Vassallo rolled to a 4-0 mark to take home the championship and Smith was 3-0.

Ray Krieger, Ray Scott, Jonathan Costa and Scott coached the JV squad at the event.

For the girls, Costa has been named the new head coach and new assistant Erica Lopez was there to assist on Saturday, along with Nick Hanson.

Four girls wrestled for Escalon and three were crowned champions.

At 162 pounds, Kaitlyn Ruiz went 2-2 and took third place.

Kaylee Freeseha nailed down first place honors at 111 pounds, going 3-1.

“She’s getting better every week,” Scott said.

At 126 pounds, Mikayla Vega powered her way to the title with a 3-0 mark.

“It looked like we gave her a Taser,” Scott joked, noting that no opponent lasted very long on the mat with Vega.

Also earning a championship was Julia Casillas, going 3-0 for the title at 131 pounds.

“Showing a lot of toughness, she is battling back from an injury and just kept winning,” Scott said.

This week, several wrestlers will head to the Bulldog Classic in Turlock on Saturday, Dec. 22.

Redding pix.jpg
Falling in his final match in triple overtime, Jacob Redding did win this match against his Enochs opponent by a pin in the second round. He finished second at 182 pounds in the Focha Tournament on Saturday.