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Grapplers Pin League Loss On Rival Hughson
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Standing toe to toe with a team that most likely will be their toughest opponent in league action this season, Escalon's wrestlers came off the mats with a thrilling 42-31 win over Hughson on Wednesday.

They followed that up with a trip to the Coyote Classic Tournament in Bakersfield on Friday and Saturday, bringing home five medals.

The Wednesday dual with Hughson, however, was definitely the high point of the week, as the Cougars put away the defending Trans-Valley League champions.

"That was our biggest hurdle," said coach Derek Scott. "The rest of the way, if we wrestle to our ability, we should win."

There were solid performances up and down the line on Wednesday, kicked off by Lucas Pitassi at 119 pounds, earning a win by pin. At 130 pounds, Kevin Machado took a 10-2 win, Myles Bishop won by pin at 140 pounds and Jon Manzo won by pin at 145. Ryan Sughrue took a forfeit win at 152 pounds, Justin Chandley earned a 9-5 win at 160. Jesse Jimenez won by pin at 189 pounds and heavyweight Anthony Oste won by pin as well.

"Seven guys out of our 14 had fewer than five varsity matches prior to this," noted Scott. "It was pretty impressive as a whole, everyone did their job and it was a very encouraging match."

Even in those weight divisions where the Cougars did take losses, Scott noted, some came against state-ranked wrestlers and others came against wrestlers with much more experience.

"Ryan Lippincott took a 13-1 loss at 171 pounds but in not getting pinned, he saved us some points," Scott pointed out. "Daryl Craig lost by pin at 135 but he was going against a guy that is ranked right now in the state."

Ryan Ashlock was pinned at 125, still recuperating from an earlier injury, Josh Merrill lost by pin at 215 pounds.

"Rivalry wise, the two of us are the last two state champions and they have four guys right now ranked in the state," Scott added. "On paper, they were a better team but I stressed to the guys to be tough and we ended up winning.

"This was the best dual I've gotten to coach."

The JV Cougars were also winners over Hughson in the Dec. 15 event, taking a 60-12 decision. Only four matches were contested, the host Cougars won three out of four.

Jake Greer won by pin at 135 pounds, Heath Dougherty won by pin at 152, Tyler Draper won by pin at 161. Paul Crocker took a loss at 215.

Over the two-day tournament in Bakersfield, the Cougars had 13 wrestlers taking the mats and five of them came home with medals.

Continuing his solid season to date, Myles Bishop was a first place finisher in the tournament at 135 pounds, going 4-0.

"He had no offensive points scored on him the whole weekend," Scott noted.

Jon Manzo was sixth at 145 pounds, going 5-3 and Ryan Sughrue was sixth at 152, compiling a 4-3 mark. Rounding out the medallists were Brian Toy, 3-2 at 103 pounds, good for eighth place and Kevin Machado, 3-3 at 130 pounds, also an eighth place showing.

Medals were awarded to the top eight finishers in each weight class.

At 112 pounds, Atom Garcia went 0-2 the first day and dropped into the hard luck bracket the next, going 2-0 there to finish at 2-2. Lucas Pitassi, 119 pounds, was 0-2 the first day, 1-1 on day two. Ryan Ashlock was 2-2 for the tournament at 125 pounds, Joey Machado went 0-2 the first day and then was 2-0 on day two at 140 pounds. Justin Chandley was 0-2 at 160, Ryan Lippincott went 1-2 at 171, Isaac Cherry was 1-2 at 215 pounds and Anthony Oste went 2-2 in the heavyweight division.

"I thought we did pretty well as a team," noted Scott. "We have a lot of young guys and I've been really encouraged by guys that we've had out there just a short time that are doing well."

Along with Bishop's first place honor, Scott said he was pleased with the number of medals the Cougars took out of the tournament.

"Brian Toy had a great tournament, Kevin Machado wrestled to his ability, Jon Manzo and Ryan Sughrue are showing some great strides," he pointed out.

Tournament action continues this week for the Cougars, with 14 wrestlers expected to travel to the Sierra Nevada Classic in Reno, Nevada on Tuesday, Dec. 28 and Wednesday, Dec. 29.