The two-day Lloyd C. Engel Tournament brought wrestlers from 38 different teams to Escalon High School for competition on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 4 and 5.
Four Cougars came away with tournament championships and head coach Derek Scott said with multiple medalists, it was a satisfying way to end a very busy couple of weeks on the mats.
“We had 18 wrestlers competing,” Scott said of Escalon’s entries in the Engel event. “I thought it went great, we had eight mats going, probably some 500 kids there.”
For the Cougars, Scott said coaches were very pleased with the efforts of Luis Garcia at 106 pounds, who went 4-2 in Pool A but did not walk away with any hardware.
“He looked really good,” noted Scott.
A total of 11 Cougars did earn medals at the two-day event.
Fourth place finishers for Escalon were Manuel Diaz at 160 pounds, going 3-4 in Pool D and David Camacho at 220 pounds, compiling a 4-3 mark at Pool B.
Earning third place medals were Aiden Krieger, going 5-2 at 126 pounds in Pool B and Izaac Sipma, 5-2 at 145 in Pool B.
“Krieger continues to improve and for Sipma, it was by far the best he’s looked,” Scott said.
Battling in plenty of close matches, Brad Hagglund went 6-1 in Pool A at 160 pounds for a third place finish while Julian Gutierrez also went 6-1 at 182 pounds in Pool A for third place honors. Gutierrez got high praise from Scott for his efforts, culminating in his best showing at the varsity level. Also coming away with a satisfying finish was Dylan Dugo, earning his first varsity tournament medal, going 4-3 in Pool C at heavyweight, nailing down third place honors.
Escalon’s four champions included two in Pool C, one in Pool B and one in Pool A.
At 152 pounds, Ethan Krieger went 6-1 and took first place in Pool C, while Jacob Redding claimed a championship in Pool C at 170 pounds, going 4-2 for his first varsity tournament title. Donnie Smith, wrestling at 195 pounds, went 5-1 in Pool B for his first varsity tournament championship and the top Cougar for the tournament was Alex Jimenez, compiling a 6-0 mark in Pool A at 132 pounds to go undefeated on his way to a title.
“He beat a Hilmar wrestler in the finals,” Scott said of the outstanding effort.
Scott pointed to the efforts of many volunteers and JV wrestlers helping the tournament run smoothly, along with the Williams family running the snack bar and the Scott family overseeing the head table. The tournament was sponsored by Quality Service Inc., the Tom McCoy family.
“We had the best numbers we’ve had in years,” Scott said of the successful two-day tournament.
Meanwhile, the girls traveled to the Napa Tournament for a Saturday tournament and saw some action but did not place. Julia Casillas went 2-2, Kaitlyn Ruiz was 0-2, Kaylee Freeseha went 1-1 and Mikayla Vega went 4-2 but bowed out just before the medal round.
Earlier, the Cougars faced off with Ripon in a Trans-Valley League dual meet, battling the Indians on Thursday, Jan. 3. The JV boys won all but two of the contested matches on the night and got a 39-18 win. The girls, though they won all four matches wrestled, were victimized by low numbers as Ripon got several forfeit wins and took the match, 35-24.
“For the varsity boys, we gave up two forfeits and Ripon had one, we won 63-12,” Scott added. “This was a huge match for us; I thought every guy that wrestled did a good job.”
The coach said on paper it looked like Ripon would be one of the toughest teams the Cougars would line up against but they did a good job in getting wins and points. Top efforts, he added, came from Miguel Souza, Sipma, Ethan Krieger and Smith against the Indians.
In late December, the varsity boys and the girls headed to Reno for a tournament there. For the girls, Freeseha took fifth place honors at 111 pounds, Ruiz was fourth at 160, Casillas took second at 126 and Vega took first place honors at 121 pounds and was voted Most Outstanding Wrestler.
For the varsity boys, a dozen wrestlers made the trip and Scott said seven of them lost in the final round of the first day, just short of making the medal round. Jimenez, at 132 pounds, did make it to the second day and finished the tournament with an eighth place medal.
The team heads to the Tim Brown Memorial Tournament in Sacramento this coming weekend.