Plenty of Cougars ended up at the top of their weight classes on Saturday, as Escalon played host to the Trans-Valley League wrestling finals.
Thirteen JV wrestlers took the mats and 12 of them placed while all 13 varsity Cougars qualified to Divisionals, seven of them winning individual league championships.
At the JV level, Garrett Nash (147-152), Izaac Sipma (160) and Donnie Smith (170-195) all claimed championship honors. The JV tournament featured some consolidation of weight classes and along with three titles, the Cougars had plenty of second place finishes as well.
Ty Murray took second at 106-112, as did Miguel Souza at 122-128, Manuel Diaz at 147-152, Roman Gonzalez at 160, David Camacho at 195 pounds and Sean Vassallo at heavyweight.
“Miguel injury defaulted before the finals,” head coach Derek Scott said, noting that he won the semifinals but was unable to continue to a final round match.
Nathan Miranda was third at 160 pounds, Miguel Granillo took third at 195 pounds.
“In fourth place, Ryan Trick got his first match win,” Scott said of the young wrestler competing in the 106-112 pound bracket.
At the varsity level, the Cougars far outdistanced the competition to claim the Trans-Valley League championship, scoring 296 total points. Hilmar was second at 173 points, Ripon finished third with 165.
“All of our wrestlers qualified to Divisionals, which will be Friday and Saturday at Delhi,” Scott said.
Top four in each weight class at the Feb. 16 and 17 competition move on to the Masters Meet.
On Saturday, the Cougars saw several good performances.
“We had 11 wrestlers in the finals and came away with seven champions, four second place finishes, we were really happy,” Scott said.
Taking third place on Saturday were Ethan Krieger at 152 pounds, Johnathan Santos at heavyweight.
Second place finishers for the Cougars were Braiden Vega, 106 pounds; Aidan Krieger, 120; Livius Seung, 132; Luke Anderson, 170 pounds.
“Those guys put themselves in a good spot for this week,” added Scott. “All in all in the finals, we wrestled pretty well.”
Crowned as TVL champions in their individual weight classes were Alex Jimenez at 126 pounds, Rhys Panero at 138, Brad Hagglund at 145 pounds, David Ryan at 160, Jake Lawrence at 182, Stephen Mendez at 195 and Zachary Freeseha at 220 pounds.
“Jake was named the most outstanding heavyweight wrestler,” Scott said. “Probably the best match was Zachary Freeseha, he went into the third round of the finals down by four points, he actually outscored the guy and then pinned him.”
That gave Freeseha the championship, Scott noting that he just outmuscled and outworked his opponent.
Scott was also named Coach of the Year but said the honor is one that has to be shared with the entire coaching corps, as some new coaches were brought in this year and helped to re-energize the young Cougar wrestlers.
Along with the 13 varsity Cougars heading to Divisionals, the Escalon girls – Mikayla Vega and Julia Casillas – will travel to McNair for their Masters Meet on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 16 and 17.
“The top five in each weight there qualify for state,” Scott said.