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Double Banner Stellar Season For Escalon Wrestling Team
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Escalon wrestler Isabella Alcala is peaking at the right time; the Lady Cougar grappler will be Escalon’s lone representative to the State Wrestling Meet in Bakersfield. Photo Contributed

It was what you could call a banner year for the Escalon wrestlers.

The Cougars claimed the Division 5 Sac-Joaquin Section Team Duals banner and also nailed down the Division 5 Individual competition banner, bringing both home to Escalon.

And they are sending one wrestler – freshman Isabella Alcala – to the State Wrestling Meet in Bakersfield.

A hectic past couple of weeks saw the team go to the Section division tournament on Feb. 11 and 12 in Sacramento, where they were set up to wrestle outdoors due to COVID restrictions, said head coach Derek Scott.

“It was outside on an Astroturf field and it was very hot,” Scott said.

The top four placers at the Section tournament moved on to this past weekend’s Masters Meet.

Ending their season at the Section level were Christian T. Cruz, going 2-2 at 106 pounds; Luis Garcia, 138, 2-2; Caden Gonsalves, 160, 2-2; and Anthony Jones, 3-2, 182. At 120 pounds, Kalyb Miller went 5-2 and earned a medal for his fifth place finish. JP Lial also took fifth, getting a medal, with a 4-2 mark at 195 pounds.

Masters qualifiers were heavyweight Sebastian Snow, 4-2, fourth place; Talan Reider, fourth at 145 pounds with a 5-2 record and Matt Rangel, third place, going 6-1 at 126 pounds.

Individual Section champions, also qualifying for Masters, were JW Mills, going 5-0 at 113 pounds; Christian Rowe, 5-0, 152; EJ Lewis, 5-0, 220.

“It was the first time in school history that we got the team dual meet Section championship and the individual Section championship,” Scott said of taking both honors. “It was a great year for us.”

On that same weekend, the girls were at their Division Tournament hosted at Central Valley High School in Ceres. Top eight there qualified to the Masters, with Dani Roybal just missing out, going 3-2 at 133 pounds to finish ninth. Jessica Freitas, at 143 pounds, was 3-2 and took seventh; Isabella Alcala was fourth at 101 pounds with a 3-2 record.

Heading into Stockton Arena for the CIF Masters Meet on Feb. 18 and 19, Scott said all his Cougars definitely “went in as the underdogs” with a relatively young team.

It proved to be a tough weekend, as all the boys went out the first day of the competition.

Mills, Rangel and Rowe each went 2-2; Reider and Snow went 1-2. Lewis was unable to compete due to an injury and closed out his high school wrestling career – just this season – with 17 wins in 17 matches, winning all by fall.

“He had never wrestled in high school and he pinned everyone,” Scott said. “EJ gave us the confidence we needed and we missed that this weekend.”

For the girls, Freitas went 0-2 in her matches at Masters while Alcala battled to a 4-2 record and a seventh place showing, qualifying for the State Meet.

Head coach Scott and assistant Travis James will be on hand to coach Alcala at the three-day tournament in Bakersfield.

Posing with their second blue banner of the season, the Escalon Cougars returned from Sacramento with the individual Division 5 championship in mid-February after getting a Team Duals banner in late January. Photo Contributed