All seven Cougars that went to the weekend Masters Meet in Stockton came away with at least one win. But only one wrestler – senior A.J. Camarena – qualified for the State Meet.
The top six in each weight class advance to state and Camarena took home a medal and fifth place honors at 195 pounds. He will continue his season in Bakersfield, wrestling in the March 6 and 7 State Meet.
Also leaving the Masters Meet with medals were senior Matthew Gallego, an eighth place finisher at 182 pounds, claiming a medal in his final high school appearance on the mats.
“He had a horrible draw,” coach Derek Scott said of Gallego getting a tough opponent in an early round and having to battle his way back into medal contention. Though he fell short of qualifying for state, Gallego compiled a 4-3 mark at the Masters. Two of his losses came to wrestlers that continue on to state.
At 5-2 and finishing with a seventh place showing, Kyle Jimenez at 113 pounds, had a solid tournament as well.
“It’s kind of heart-breaking, the last few years the seventh place finisher has gone to state, this year they were only taking the top six (in each weight class) from our section,” Scott said. “He (Jimenez) had a rough start, he lost his first match and then he bounced back into the medal round and he beat a former state qualifier from Central Catholic in his final match.”
Escalon did have a total of seven wrestlers at the Masters and Scott said they were very happy that all seven got at least one win at the prestigious event.
Going 1-2 at 106 pounds was Rhys Panero, with Fabricio Gallo going 1-2 at 126 and Cameron DuBois going 1-2 at 145 pounds.
“We really felt like all those guys will come back next year and be very, very competitive,” Scott said.
Going 2-2 at the Masters was Danny Gonzalez, wrestling for the Cougars at 220 pounds.
Escalon’s State Meet qualifier, Camarena, went 4-2 for his fifth place medal.
“He did a heck of a job, he was ranked eighth going in, he beat some guys he wasn’t supposed to beat,” Scott explained. “He beat a kid from Elk Grove in overtime for fifth place, we were really happy with that, he had lost two in a row and came back at the end to get that win.”
As far as the Masters Meet competitors themselves, Scott said coaches were extremely happy with their overall effort, since only three had competed at that level before.