It was a full day of action in the gyms at Escalon High School on Saturday, Dec. 18, as the Mel Focha JV Tournament saw 18 teams come to compete.
“I was worried about attendance but it was packed,” head coach Derek Scott said of getting a good turnout, with mats going in both the old and new gyms. “We had boys and girls, everything went smooth, even with the COVID, and we were done by about 3:30 p.m.”
With just a handful of JV boys taking the mats for Escalon, they ended up with four medalists out of the eight wrestlers.
At 160 pounds, Cruz Snow went 3-1 and captured third place, turning in a stellar effort at the tournament, showing great improvement from his first outing of the season.
Julian Perez went 3-1 and took second place at 106.
Escalon also had two champions at the JV level.
“Christian Cruz, at 106 pounds, went 3-0 and just dominated everybody,” Scott said. “At 220 pounds, Frank Rodriguez also took first, going 3-0.”
Escalon also had three girls take part in the Mel Focha and all three were medalists, with a first, second and third place finisher.
In third place, Dani Roybal went 2-2 at 150 pounds, still learning about the sport but steadily improving. Nailing down second place honors at 101 pounds was Isabella Alcala, going 2-1 on the day.
“In first place, and voted the Most Outstanding Upperweight Wrestler, was Jessica Freitas,” Scott said. “She went 3-0 at 150 pounds.”
Scott offered thanks to the coaches and volunteers who helped stage a successful all-day tournament, along with his family for running the head table and the support of the administration, as well as Joey Machado for sponsorship of the medals.
“Everybody did a great job,” Scott said. “Seth Davis was the tournament administrator.”
Davis also serves as head coach for the girls this season.
Prior to that tournament, the varsity team went to Hughson for a tournament on Friday, going 2-2.
“We beat Linden, beat Summerville, we lost to Hughson by three and we lost to Golden Valley, which won the tournament but we were very competitive,” Scott explained.
Looking good were JW Mills, going 4-0 at 113 pounds; Kalyb Miller going 3-1 at 120; Matt Rangel, 3-1, 132; Luis Garcia, 3-1, 152; Christian Rowe, 3-1, 160 and wrestling newcomer EJ Lewis – coming off a successful football campaign – going 2-0 at heavyweight.
SATURDAY, DEC. 11
Varsity Boys At Elk Grove
Varsity Girls, JV Boys At Livingston
Just getting a few of the football players back, the varsity team sent six wrestlers to the Elk Grove tournament. This is an elite tournament with several state ranked teams in attendance.
The three that really stood out to Scott were JW Mills, Kalyb Miller and Matthew Rangel. Miller, in his first high school wrestling season, is already becoming a leader and example for coach Scott to use to motivate the guys.
Bringing home medals were Mills, taking a hard-fought fifth place finish. Rangel narrowly lost his last match to take fourth place honors.
Coaching the trip were Scott, Eric Rowe and Aidan Krieger.
Eight JV boys and two girls went to the Livingston Tournament, with Christian Rodriguez and Victor Romero taking championships for the JV boys. Girls competing were Isabella Alcala and Jessica Freitas, each going 2-1.
SATURDAY, DEC. 4
Varsity Boys at Lodi High School - Rod Gaines Tournament
Varsity Girls, JV Boys - Atwater High School
On Dec. 4, the EHS wrestling team varsity and JV boys and varsity girls all officially got their seasons underway.
The JV boys and varsity girls had a slow start with the tournament having a two-hour delay before starting. Of the nine boys that wrestled, the coaches were most impressed by Javier Vasquez, getting his first win in his first high school competition of any kind. Looking good until he had to withdraw with injury was Lavin Gonzales.
“Lavin is going to be good, he just needs to get healthy,” noted Scott. “He has been bothered by an ankle injury all year.”
Also looking good in his first EHS action was Frankie Rodriguez.
“I have coached Frankie for ten years,” Scott said. “He has really improved and looked good.”
The boys were led by Ray Scott and assisted by Kirt Smith and Travis James.
“We had two girls wrestle and look great. Dani Roybal went 3-1 taking second place. In the match of the tournament, Isabella Alcala beat a state ranked opponent in four overtimes to take first place at the tournament,” Scott said. “They are both freshmen and have real bright futures.”
The girls were coached by newcomer Dani Bush, assisting head coach for the girls this year, Seth Davis.
Five varsity boys went to the Lodi Tournament.
“We were very inexperienced and unsure how we would fare,” admitted Scott.
In his first ever high school sport competition, senior Kalyb Miller took third place.
“Kalyb is a blast to watch. He listens great and has great instincts and just goes hard for six minutes,” Scott said. “He is as tough as any beginning wrestler at the varsity level as I have ever coached.”
Also working hard in the off season and showing well was Matthew Rangel, a sophomore, who took runner up honors, losing in overtime in the finals.
“Matthew is the kind of guy you root for, he does whatever you tell him and works his absolute hardest he can to win,” the coach added. “He will continue to improve as he gains experience and is a pleasure to work with. He is a guy the others can look up to.”
Taking home championship honors was JW Mills, who Scott classified as one of the toughest wrestlers on the team.
Ray Krieger, assistant coach, was on hand to assist coach Scott at the event.
“Ray is a tremendous asset to me and all the kids in the program. He breaks down practice and the aspects of each move and body movement better than anyone I have ever been around,” Scott said. “I have learned an immeasurable amount working with him the last four or five years.”