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Cougar Grapplers Pin Down League Crown
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Claiming first place at the Trans-Valley League Meet in Patterson on Saturday, the Cougars are outright champions in wrestling for the season, outdistancing all competitors.

Individually, there were several first place finishers for Escalon at both the JV and varsity level and coach Derek Scott was honored with the Coach of the Year title for the second time in his three years of coaching the squad.

"In the JV competition, everybody medaled," Scott noted.

Many of the Cougars ended up battling each other for the first and second place honors and Scott and his assistant coaches were encouraged by the showing, with many of the JV team members getting ready to make the move to varsity next season.

First place finishers at the JV level for Escalon were Travis Bonds at 103 pounds, Brandon Wood, 119; Marcos Barron, 130; Jon Manzo, 145; Brett Mynear, 152; Heath Dougherty, 160; Jason DaSilva, 189.

Second place medalists were Blake Mynear at 112; Cody Cheary, 119; Ryan Ashlock, 125; Michael Schilber, 130; Brock Mynear, 135; Jake Merrill, 160; Isaac Cherry, 189; Josh Merrill, heavyweight. Taking a third place was Lucas Pitassi at 112 pounds.

"Our JV kids were undefeated in league and they did a really good job," Scott said. "We are encouraged about them in the future."

For the varsity, there were some strong performances, several qualifiers for the Small School Sections meet and one league champion.

Mike Travers took first place at 140 pounds and was voted the Most Valuable Middleweight at the tournament, winning league honors in his weight class.

Second place finishers for the Cougars at the varsity level were Curtis Schurkamp at 112 pounds and Joey Machado at 119.

"Curtis wrestled the number two ranked guy in the state and was leading until the end," Scott said, adding that Schurkamp is not yet in top form, still battling back from injury and illness.

"He wasn't even ranked going in, it has been a long time since he has taken the mat against anyone that is ranked and he lost to Cory Borges of Hughson," Scott explained.

Myles Bishop took second place at 135 pounds, Lance Lippincott at 152, Andrew Pitassi at 171 and Manuel Schwanker at 215 pounds. Third place finishers were Adrian Carrillo at 125 pounds, Ryan Sughrue at 145 pounds and a fourth place showing for Escalon came from Kevin Machado at 130 pounds.

"The top four in each weight class qualified for the Small School Sections, fifth places go as alternates so only two of our guys got eliminated," Scott pointed out.

Earning fifth place and going to sections as alternates will be Ryan Lippincott at 160 pounds, Anthony Oste at heavyweight.

Ending their season with sixth place showings at the league meet were Atom Garcia at 103 pounds, Jeremiah Knapp at 189 pounds.

"I wasn't very happy with the medal round, we lost more than we won but overall during the tournament, they did pretty good," Scott said of his varsity squad.

Again, coaches were encouraged by some wrestlers, including Schurkamp, who needs to get some more conditioning work in to get ready for sections and hopefully state, while Lance Lippincott lost in the finals in double overtime and looks strong heading into the section meet.

"We're starting to see some guys really improve," said Scott. "Mike Travers is not a flashy wrestler but he gets the job done."

Team scores showed Escalon taking the crown outright with a 218.5 score, compared to second place Ripon coming in at 210.5. Livingston scored 161 points, followed by Hughson at 156.

"We have great support from the community and I really want to thank my coaches and all the assistants for helping out," said Scott. "I was named coach of the year, that makes me feel good but it's a reflection on the whole staff."

Assistants are Ray Scott and Leon Kuhn, volunteers helping out throughout the season have included Dan Prado, Ed Alves, Max Schurkamp, Randy Lynn, Nathaniel Nash and Jaime Manzo.

"We've won three league titles in three years," Scott noted. "It's a tribute to those people with different wrestling backgrounds that come in to help, they go with the program, we're all on the same page."

Next up, Escalon will host the Small School Sections, with competition kicking off both Friday, Feb. 20 and Saturday, Feb. 21 at 9 a.m.

As part of the Small School Section event, a special fundraising breakfast will be offered in the old gym on Saturday morning. Put on and benefiting Escalon High baseball, the breakfast will run from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. The $5 cost will get you pancakes, eggs, juice, milk and coffee. The breakfast is open to the community.