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Cougar Wrestlers - State Competition Ends Short Of Medal Round
0312 Freeseha
Dominic Freeseha, at left, works to take control of this bout in state competition at Bakersfield. The 220-pounder was back at the state meet for a second consecutive year and went 2-2, losing his final match on a takedown late in the third period. Dave Campbell/The Times

Neither one came home with a medal, but the two Cougars that made it to the state wrestling meet in Bakersfield each got some wins on the biggest wrestling stage in California.

“They both made the second day, both finished in the top 10,” said Escalon head wrestling coach Derek Scott.

Tyler Lawrence and Dominic Freeseha, both seniors, represented the Cougars at the event, Friday and Saturday, March 7 and 8. Lawrence wrestled at 140 pounds, Freeseha in the 220-pound division.

“Tyler lost his first match the first day, on Friday, then came back and won the next three matches on Friday to get to the top ten,” Scott explained.

One match away from getting to the medal stage, Lawrence took a tough 4-2 loss on Saturday morning, to a Southern section wrestler, and finished the state meet appearance with a 3-2 record.

“Tyler overcame injury this year and did a real good job,” said Scott.

For Freeseha, he got victories in his first two matches on Friday, putting himself into solid contention for a medal round appearance.

But a tough draw saw him lose a 6-3 decision to the state’s number two seeded wrestler at 220 pounds and then suffer a heartbreaking, last-second loss in what turned out to be his final bout, just one win short of wrestling for a state medal.

“Dominic got taken down as time ran out in the third round, lost his last match 3-2 to a wrestler from the Southern section,” explained Scott. “Both kids got in the top ten, for Tyler, it was pleasing to see him come back from injury and for Dominic, this was a level he had never been at before.”

The losses, though tough ones to handle, don’t diminish the accomplishments of the two Cougars, Scott said.

“It was a depressing way to end, with two losses Saturday morning,” agreed Scott. “They both were winnable matches, not easy to win, but winnable.”

The state meet closes out the high school careers for the two standouts, with Lawrence a three time state qualifier, three time divisional champion and four time Trans-Valley League champion. Freeseha was back for a second round at the state meet, having qualified as a junior as well.

“The last two years, Dominic has made the biggest improvement of any wrestler we have ever had, in my 18 years of coaching, we have never had a guy get as much out of his ability, every amount of success, as Dominic has done,” Scott said. “We were very pleased with both of our guys. It was a great season for the team and for the kids, and I really thank everyone that helped all year, coaches and fans.”