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Cougar Wrestlers Take On Opponents In Three Locations

As a busy preseason continues for Escalon wrestling, the girls, JV boys and varsity boys were all in different locations this past weekend for tournament action.

“The girls were at Livingston and both girls went 3-0, each took first place,” head coach Derek Scott.

Mikayla Vega got all her wins by pin at 116 pounds to claim her championship.

Julia Casillas took the mats at 126 pounds and she also got three wins.

“This was her first tournament championship and she had her best match of the year in the finals,” said Scott.

The JV boys, meanwhile, traveled to Beyer for a tournament there and came away with eight medals, from fourth to first place.

In fourth place were Ty Murray, 113 pounds and Donnie Smith, 182 pounds. Jonathan Santos claimed third place honors in the heavyweight division while Dylan Dugo was second at heavyweight and Nicholas Freeseha crafted a second place finish at 126 pounds.

“Our champions all went 3-0, Gino Stern at 106 pounds, Miguel Souza at 132 and Julian Gutierrez at 182 pounds,” Scott said, adding that Gutierrez was one of the best wrestlers at the tournament.

“The varsity boys went to Elk Grove, this is one of the toughest tournaments of the year, there were 16 teams and many of them are state ranked schools,” Scott said.

Escalon had 16 wrestlers at the event, coming home with a half dozen medals.

In his first varsity tournament, heavyweight Sean Vassallo took eighth place to get a medal.

Taking sixth place at 195 pounds was Stephen Mendez.

“He is much improved,” Scott noted. “Also taking sixth place, the best he has looked so far, was Zac Freeseha at 220 pounds.”

Braiden Vega, at 106 pounds, claimed sixth place honors and had a tough draw in his final match, taking on a more seasoned wrestler from Buchanan.

“We were very, very happy with him,” Scott said, with Vega barely tipping the scales at 100 pounds and taking on much more experienced wrestlers in this varsity tournament.

The most significant performance of the tournament, however, came from Jake Lawrence, who is making his return to the mats after missing two seasons with injury.

“He took fourth place at 195 pounds, went 3-1,” explained Scott.

The last match was a forfeit loss, as the coaching staff agreed not to push Lawrence further in the tournament, pacing his return to full competition.

“We had a finalist for the first time in five or six years,” Scott added, with Alex Jimenez battling in the championship match and falling, settling for second place honors. He went 3-1 at 126 pounds.

“Alex is greatly improved,” Scott said. “He won a one-point match, he won a quadruple overtime match to get the finals … these are matches that, in the past, he would have found a way to lose. Now he’s learning to win.”

Action on the mats continues this weekend, with the Escalon girls and JV boys hosting the Mel Focha Tournament on Saturday, Dec. 16 at Escalon. There should be about 20 teams coming in to compete, said Scott, with the tourney starting at 9 a.m.