In another busy week of wrestling, Escalon completed a perfect Trans-Valley League campaign and then moved on to the Section duals for the boys, the Divisionals for the girls.
On Wednesday, Feb. 1, the JV and varsity welcomed Modesto Christian for the TVL regular season finale. It was also Senior Night, with recognition for all of the Cougars closing out their high school careers on the mats.
“The JVs won by forfeit, that was the end of their dual meets, they went 5-0 and were league champs,” explained head coach Derek Scott. “The varsity won 65-13 and we finished at 5-0, first in league so we will be at least co-TVL champs, depending on what happens with the league meet.”
Adela Ley-Han, a senior, earned special recognition as being the first girl wrestler for the Cougars, paving the way for others to join the sport.
At the varsity level, Scott said the best matches of the night came from Livius Seung, Rhys Panero, David Ryan and Hugo Alcala.
“Also having a great match was Stephen Mendez, he went up a weight so we could get all the seniors in there, he lost 4-3 in the heavyweight division and he probably gave up about 20 pounds to his opponent,” said Scott.
The Lady Cougars traveled to Central Valley in Ceres for Divisionals on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 2 and 3.
“Adela Ley-Han went 2-2 at 101 pounds and finished ninth,” Scott said.
She has been working hard to get back into wrestling shape while still playing soccer for EHS this winter season, juggling two sports.
Mikayla Vega wrestled at 106 pounds, getting caught in a tough final and settling for second place honors with a 4-1 record. Julia Casillas went 5-1 at 116 pounds, finishing third. Vega and Casillas automatically qualify for the Masters Meet for the girls, which is scheduled at McNair High School on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 16 and 17. Ley-Han, finishing ninth, will attend as an alternate.
“I think they definitely have a chance to move on,” Scott said of getting some girls on to the CIF State meet in Visalia at the end of the month.
For the boys, they went to Lincoln High School in Stockton on Saturday for the Division V Section Duals and, with a number one seed out of the TVL, got a first round bye. In round two, they took on and defeated Sonora by a 49-24 decision.
“At 138 pounds, Rhys Panero gutted out a 3-2 win, he was really under the weather but he just out toughed the guy,” Scott said of a key match in the win over Sonora. “Also, Luke Anderson, at 170 pounds, pinned a guy he had lost to previously by scores of 13-0 and 9-2.”
Escalon then faced off against Calaveras for the Section title and got off to a good start.
“We made a line-up change, bumped some seniors up a weight and we won the first five matches,” Scott explained. “But we only won two by pin; we really needed three or more.”
Up by five points, the Cougars then took an unexpected loss by pin that basically took the wind of the team’s sails, the coach admitted, and they couldn’t battle back.
Then taking a tough loss was Jonathan Santos, a sophomore wrestling for Escalon at heavyweight who battled against a more experienced opponent.
“A highlight match that really gave us a chance, Hugo Alcala won in overtime at 170 pounds and that was a cool moment for him,” Scott said.
But Cougars getting pinned in the last five matches gave Calaveras the 44-23 win.
“We need to respond better the next few weeks,” the coach added.
Escalon did take runner-up honors in the Section to Calaveras and now prepares to host the Trans-Valley League meet on Saturday, Feb. 10 starting at 9 a.m.
Top four qualifiers in each weight class there move on to the Division V divisionals competition on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 16 and 17.