In a fast-paced two days of wrestling, with up to eight mats going, Escalon hosted its annual Lloyd C. Engel Tournament and saw some 40 teams coming in to take part.
“We felt it was a very good tournament, real tough,” said Escalon coach Derek Scott. “We did pools, the first three rounds we figure out what level people are on, after that they get to wrestle people at their own level.”
The first day of competition, on Friday, Jan. 10 was dedicated to the preliminary rounds, with the second day bringing the semifinal and championship matches.
“You will see a lot of kids, newer kids, getting first and seconds, but they will come in the lower pools,” Scott said.
For Escalon, there were solid performances at multiple weights and in a number of the pools offered. Top performance came from Dominic Freeseha, a senior, who wrestled his way to first place honors at 220 pounds in the top bracket, Pool A.
“Dominic went 6-0 to take first place in Pool A, he also had the fastest fall (pin) of the tournament, in about nine seconds, Dominic looked really good,” Scott said.
Coming off an illness, Freeseha is getting back into wrestling shape and feeling better, said the coach.
“In the finals he beat a kid from Atwater that had beaten him twice last year,” explained Scott. “Dominic was able to handle him.”
The Cougars were represented in many weight classes, with Scott reporting the following additional results from the Engel Tournament.
At 106 pounds, Kyle Jimenez went 7-2 for fourth place in Pool A.
“We’re really happy with Kyle,” Scott said, noting that the underclassman handled himself well during the entire tournament.
At 121 pounds, Clayton Jones went 2-2, second place in Pool C; 133 pounds, Trenton Busch, 4-3, fourth place Pool C; Jonathan Dietzel, 3-4, fourth in Pool D; Fabricio Gallo, 4-2, first in Pool E.
Also, at 139 pounds, Cameron Dubois went 5-2, finishing fourth in Pool A.
“He works hard, wrestles hard,” Scott said of DuBois.
At 146 pounds, Colton Camara went 7-1, good for a third place finish in Pool A.
“We felt he wrestled very well,” Scott said.
Clayton Keener, 153 pounds, went 2-4 for second place in Pool D; at 170 pounds Hunter Calton was 3-3 for first place in Pool E and at 182 pounds, Matt Gallego went 6-2 to take fourth place in Pool A.
“Both his losses were matches he was capable of winning, and overall he wrestled well,” Scott said of Gallego getting some valuable experience at the tournament as well as a solid showing in the toughest pool.
Wrestlers competing but not placing were: Justice Redding at 138 pounds, who went 2-3 in his first varsity action; Josh Redding at 153, 3-2; Frankie Bavaro, 160, going 3-1 on the first day before Scott pulled him due to an eye injury.
At 160 pounds, Austin Martinez went 4-2; A.J. Camarena was 3-1 at 195 pounds before Scott made the decision to take him out on an injury default and Daniel Gonzalez, wrestling at 195, went 3-0 on the first day, wrestling in Pool A, and finished 4-2 overall. Marc Camarena wrestled at heavyweight for the Cougars and compiled an overall 4-3 record.
“With the 40 teams there, we thank everyone in the community for their help,” Scott said. “Also, our athletic director, our principals, our superintendent were in there, all watching at some point, they work really well with us.”
Scott noted that putting on a tournament of that size during a normal school day – on Friday – could be problematic, but everyone works to ensure a smooth event.
He also pointed to the efforts of the Escalon Lions Club on Saturday, cooking up the lunch for coaches and the event sponsor, Quality Service Inc. – The McCoy Family, for their assistance.
Voted Most Outstanding Lightweight wrestler was Angel Velasquez, 132 pounds, Modesto and Most Outstanding Upperweight wrestler was Frankie Trent of Oakdale at 170 pounds.
Earlier in the week, the Cougars traveled to Hughson for a dual meet and came out flat, but escaped with a 39-27 win, top efforts from Freeseha, Bavaro and Josh Redding at the varsity level, while the JV won their match primarily on forfeits.
This week wrestlers will be busy with a varsity tournament at Gregori, a JV tourney at Enochs, both on Saturday, Jan. 18.