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Cougars Capture Top Seed For TVL Wrestling Finals
Taking second place honors at the Team Section dual meet, Escalon topped Golden Sierra and Calaveras in their opening rounds before falling to a tough Central Catholic squad in the championship.

Traveling to Rosemont on Saturday, Feb. 7 for the event, the Cougars opened up with Golden Sierra and took them down by a decisive 60-15 margin, though there were a number of forfeits.

In matches wrestled, Christian Franks was a winner for the Cougars at 103 pounds, winning by pin. Max Yang lost at 112; Anthony Munoz won by pin at 135 pounds; Joseph Antonacci lost at 145; Tyler Gonzales won 8-2 at 152; Andrew Baroni won 13-10 at 160; Charlie McDonald won by pin at 171 pounds; Brandon Williams lost 7-6 at 189; Thomas Martin won by pin at 215 and Paul Brown won by pin at heavyweight.

"In the semifinals, we went against Calaveras and we won, 42-33," said head coach Derek Scott. "That was the big match of the tournament for us, I felt if we wrestled well, we could win it."

Winners in that semifinal round for Escalon were Franks, win by pin; Dylan Furtado, won by pin at 125 pounds; David Gonzales, 11-3 win, 140; Tyler Gonzales, 12-3, 152; Colin Keener, 14-2, 160 pounds; McDonald, win by pin, 171; Mike Gutierrez, win by pin, 189 pounds; Martin, 215, win by pin; Brown, heavyweight, 4-2 win.

"The big matches there were Mike Gutierrez, winning at 189 pounds and Colin Keener had a big win, also David Gonzales, we weren't sure how he would do as a freshman, a lot of pressure, but he won 11-3."

The semifinal win put Escalon in the battle for the Small Schools Section crown but they had to get through Central Catholic to do it. Unfortunately, the Cougars did not have quite as many weapons as the private school to put on the floor.

"Going in, I thought there were probably five matches we could take ... we got three of them," Scott explained.

Franks won by forfeit, McDonald won by pin and Williams took an exciting 8-3 win off the mats. Martin, ranked fourth in the section, lost a controversial 4-3 decision and Brown wrestled tough but took a 9-3 loss at heavyweight.

"They were better than us," Scott noted. "We took second in the small school sections, second year in a row and we felt happy, that was our goal, pretty much. That means at the TVL finals we go in as the number one seed."

The Cougars will head to Hughson for the Saturday TVL finals and look to wrap up the league title with a victory.

Earlier in the week, the Cougars posted a dual match win over Mariposa in the regular season finale. The JV team took a 58-0 win, most of the points coming on forfeits.

"The JV doesn't keep score at the league meet so this was their championship," said Scott, adding that the JV team was undefeated in league this season.

Winners were Keenon Tavares, win by pin at 112; Scott Nunes, win by technical fall, 130; Cordeiro Bryand, win by pin, 135; Colin Keener, win by technical fall, 160 and Victor Carrillo, win by pin, 171 pounds.

At the varsity level, wins by pin came from Christian Franks, 112; Dylan Furtado, 125; Anthony Munoz, 135; Andrew Baroni, 160; Thomas Martin, 215 and Paul Brown, heavyweight.

The Cougars and Mariposa both had 4-0 marks coming in; Escalon stayed perfect with the 65-9 win.

David Gonzales posted a 10-0 win at 140 pounds, Tyler Gonzales was a 20-9 winner at 152, Charlie McDonald, 9-2 win at 171. Taking a win by technical fall was Brandon Williams at 189 and Max Yang won by forfeit at 103 pounds. The only losses of the night for Escalon came at 130 pounds, a 6-1 loss for Jason Gutierrez and at 145, Joseph Antonacci lost by pin.

Key matches were from Williams, who got the team started off on the right foot, and Brown, who took a big win against a tough heavyweight opponent.

Seniors recognized prior to the start of the night's matches were Charlie McDonald, Thomas Martin, Martin Castillo, Mike Gutierrez, Joseph Antonacci, Paul Brown, Tyler Gonzales and Josh Messersmith.

"We read the parents' names and the kids were able to say a few words, thanking their parents for the support, we gave each parent an Escalon wrestling shirt and a rose," noted Scott.