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JV Wrestlers Claim Tournament Honors
A total of 23 teams made their way to Escalon for Saturday's annual Mel Focha JV Wrestling Tournament, with the host team putting 20 wrestlers into the competition.

"We pretty much covered all the weight classes, the only ones where we weren't represented were 170 (pounds) and 182," said Escalon head coach Derek Scott. "The tournament ran great, everything went smooth."

The Cougars had eight wrestlers place in the tournament, including one champion in Clayton Keener.

"Clayton went 4-0, took first place at 138 pounds," Scott said. "He looked really good."

Another Clayton, Clayton Jones, took second place at 113 pounds by compiling a mark of 3-1 on the day and also impressed Scott.

"This was the first time he has wrestled in a long time, coming off a serious injury and he did a great job."

Also placing in the tournament were Fabricio Gallo, second place, 3-1, 120 pounds; Andrew Gastello, second place at 120 pounds (different bracket) with a 3-1 mark; Justice Redding, 126 pounds, fourth, 2-2; Alvaro Vasquez, 145 pounds, 3-1, second; Hunter Calton, 152, 2-2, third place; and heavyweight Brendon Belman, ending the day with a fourth place showing.

"Individually, we had some kids wrestle well but as a team I didn't think we were as effective," Scott said, noting that the long layoff for the holidays seemed to have an impact on the consistency for the team.

The caliber of competition was also high, he said.

"I thought it was a really tough tournament, a lot of the teams used guys that will go varsity," Scott explained.

Wrestlers can still participate in a JV tournament if they haven't won a varsity medal, even if they are an upper classman.

Scott said the event was smooth, and he offered thanks to many who contributed to its success.

"Thanks to the community for their help, the varsity team and parents of wrestlers and former wrestlers that came, we had a lot of help, it went smoothly," Scott said.

He also said his family was crucial, running the head table, and the sponsorship of Larry Grossi Fabrication was key to putting on a solid tournament, as was the work of his assistant and volunteer coaches, working with the wrestlers throughout the day-long event.

This week, the Cougar wrestling program puts on its two-day Lloyd C. Engel Tournament, which is shaping up to be bigger and better than in the past, with 40 teams committed to participating. Matches begin at 9 a.m. both Friday and Saturday, Jan. 11 and 12.