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Cougar Grapplers Fare Well AtTournament
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Six Cougar wrestlers pinned down first place honors at the weekend's Lloyd C. Engel Tournament hosted at Escalon High, with several others making strong showings in the prestigious event.

Wrestlers from throughout the Central Valley and beyond made the trip to Escalon for the Friday and Saturday competition, with several weight classes broken down into four different pools because of the high number of wrestlers.

Winning for Escalon in the top pool, Pool A, were Andrew Schuler at 112 pounds, going 8-0; Kevin Machado at 130 pounds, also compiling an 8-0 mark over the two days; Myles Bishop at 135 pounds, undefeated at 8-0; and Ryan Sughrue, going 8-0 at 152 pounds.

"Individually, for Schuler this was his first serious action of the year and he beat a state qualifier and also a kid who has only lost two times this season," head coach Derek Scott pointed out. "Kevin Machado, we were very impressed with him, he's a fun guy to coach, he's not a flashy wrestler but he's one who works hard for six minutes, he just doesn't quit.

"He's a perfect example of what hard work will do, in his last 16 matches, he's only lost one."

Bishop continues to lead the Cougars on the mats, a solid, steady performer for the team.

"He is by far our most consistent guy, he does a good job each week and we're getting closer to our goal of qualifying him for state," said Scott.

For Sughrue, the tournament extended a strong streak for him, losing just one match in his last 15 or 16 times out.

"He really is just believing in himself," said Scott, noting that all wrestlers are hitting the mats hard and showing dedication in practice to prepare for meets and tournaments.

Earning a first place in Pool B for the Cougars was senior Jesse Jimenez, going 7-1 at 171 pounds. This is his first year in wrestling.

"Again, his toughness is fun to watch," said Scott.

Heath Dougherty garnered the final first place honor for the Cougars, going 6-2 at 152 pounds in Pool C.

"For Heath, this was his first varsity action ever," Scott pointed out. "He went 6-2 and even the matches he lost, he went hard for six minutes. We were very impressed with his toughness."

In other weights, Brian Toy went 6-2 at 103 pounds and finished second in Pool B; Atom Garcia did not place at 112; Lucas Pitassi went 6-2 to finish in third place at 119 pounds in Pool A. Randy Huntington went 3-2 at 119 before defaulting with an injury, Blake Mynear did not place at 125 pounds. Other wrestlers at 135 pounds for the Cougars included Daryl Craig, who did not place, and Joey Machado, who had compiled a mark of 3-1 before being injured during warm-ups for another match and having to withdraw. Tyler Draper did not place at 140 pounds, Jon Manzo went 6-2 and finished third in Pool A at 145 pounds. Justin Chandley took the mats at 160 and went 2-1 before having to withdraw, Brett Mynear took second place honors in Pool B at 160 pounds with a 5-3 mark. Wrestling in Pool A at 171 pounds, Ryan Lippincott went 6-2 and took second place, Jake Merrill was 3-2 at 171 pounds before taking an injury default. Scott Cannon, wrestling at 189 pounds, was second in Pool D with a 5-3 record, Isaac Cherry went 4-4 at 215 pounds and finished second in Pool B, while Anthony Oste went 4-2 before leaving with an injury.

"Everybody wrestled well, as a team I can't think of too many things that didn't go well," Scott said. "We saw kids being hard-nosed and tough, they are really buying into the system and seeing that it works."

The two-day tournament wrapped up a busy week for the Cougar wrestlers, as they traveled to Mariposa for a match on Wednesday, Jan. 12.

There, it was a 57-6 win for the JV team and a 64-12 decision for the varsity.

"In the JV action, there was only one match, Heath Dougherty took a 9-6 win at 152 pounds, the rest of our wins were by forfeit," explained Scott.

Nine wrestlers had matches at the varsity level. Brian Toy won by pin at 103 pounds; Atom Garcia, win by pin, 112; Andrew Schuler, 11-4 win, 119; Kevin Machado, 21-6 win, 130; Myles Bishop, win by pin, 135; Tyler Draper, lost by pin, 145; Ryan Sughrue, 10-0 win, 152; Justin Chandley, lost by pin, 160; and Ryan Lippincott, 18-2 win, 171 pounds.

"The highlight of this match was Ryan Sughrue, he beat a kid who beat him last year and this time he really controlled the guy," said Scott.

Trans-Valley League action resumes for the Cougars this week, as they host Ripon on Wednesday, Jan. 19 at 6:30 p.m. The JV wrestlers, meanwhile, have the chance to shine on Saturday as they host the Mel Focha Tournament kicking off at 9 a.m.

"Also, if people are interested, we have a wrestling club for kids from five to 14-years-old and they will be doing some wrestling on Sunday," said Scott.