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Cougar Grapplers Move On To Masters, Girls State Meet
Cougar Marco Mendoza, seen here taking a control of a match earlier this season in Escalon, was one of four grapplers making the cut to advance to the Masters Meet. For the girls, Mikayla Vega will head to the State Meet in Visalia this weekend. Marg Jackson/The Times

One Lady Cougar wrestler will represent Escalon at the girls State Meet this weekend, while several boys have qualified to the Masters Meet in Stockton.

Mikayla Vega, a sophomore, will make her second trip to the girls State Meet in as many years, heading to Visalia this weekend. She, along with fellow wrestlers Adela Ley-Han and Julia Casillas, went to the girls Masters this past weekend and all three advanced to the second day. But only Vega qualified to move on.

“Adela Ley-Han went 2-2 at 113 pounds, Julia Casillas went 2-2 at 121 pounds,” said head coach Derek Scott. “The girls went hard every match; I thought they wrestled really good.”

The top six earned medals and Vega pinned down a third place finish, securing her spot in the State Meet.

“She lost in the semifinals, 4-1, and ended up taking third at 106 pounds,” Scott said. “She got a medal and is going to state.”

That competition will be hosted in Visalia.

For the boys, they headed to the Divisionals in Natomas, 12 Cougars going and six of them coming home with medals.

“I thought the boys wrestled really well, this was our best team performance of the year,” Scott said, noting that the team finished in second place overall, behind only Divisionals section champion Calaveras.

Not moving on, just missing the top four cut to make the Masters, was Livius Seung, who went 4-2 for fifth place at 138 pounds. Christian Manzo also finished fifth, compiling a 4-2 mark at 152 pounds.

“The most inspiring thing, Braiden Vega, our freshman, finished in the top eight at 106 pounds, he went 2-2, he was ahead in the last match but then he got pinned in the last 20 seconds,” Scott said.

The freshman typically gives up at least 20 pounds to his opponents, added Scott, and should only continue to get stronger as he moves on through the system.

“At 113 pounds, really the surprise of the tournament, Garrett Nash went 4-1 and took third place,” Scott said. “This was by the best he has wrestled, he was down 6-1 in his last match, came back and beat the guy in overtime.”

Three Cougars also made it to the finals, with one champion and two second place finishers.

“Rhys Panero got second place, he beat a tough Sonora kid in the semifinals,” Scott said of the 132-pounder.

With a 3-1 record, Marco Mendoza also took second place, wrestling at 170 pounds.

“He beat the Hilmar kid that beat him last week,” Scott said of his grappler getting a little revenge.

The most satisfying moment of the divisionals, though, was the championship earned by Alex Jimenez at 120 pounds.

“He avenged two earlier losses, he went 4-0 for first place,” said Scott.

The four Cougars qualifying to Masters – Nash, Panero, Mendoza and Jimenez – will head to the Stockton Arena for the Friday and Saturday competition. The top six in each weight class from there will move on to the State Meet.