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Girls Attend Masters, Boys Battle At Divisionals
Cougar Wrestling
Cougars Alex Jimenez, left, and Rhys Panero were champions for Escalon at the weekends Divisional competition, Jimenez at 126 pounds and Panero at 138 pounds. They each went undefeated at 5-0.Times Photos By Marg Jackson

Another busy weekend of wrestling for the Cougars saw plenty of success for the high school grapplers, with many continuing on to the next level.

Two Lady Cougars, Julia Casillas and Mikayla Vega, went to McNair High School in Stockton for their Masters Meet.

“Julia Casillas went 1-2, she lost in the match to get to the second day,” explained head coach Derek Scott. “But she was very competitive in the matches she lost.”

Casillas wrestled at 116 pounds and closed out her season at the Masters.

“Mikayla Vega went 4-1 and took second place,” Scott said of the 106-pound standout.

All three of Vega’s losses so far this season have come to the same opponent, a wrestler from Lincoln, out of the Sacramento area, and that was who she lost to at the Masters. That won’t keep her from continuing on, though, as the top five in each weight class move on to the State Meet.

“Mikayla is a three-time state qualifier,” noted Scott.

She moves on to the State Meet for girls, scheduled in Visalia on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 23 and 24.

For the Cougar boys, they traveled to Delhi for the Division 5 Section Meet and had 13 wrestlers compete. Five of them had their seasons end at the event.

Brad Hagglund, wrestling at 145 pounds; Ethan Krieger, 152; Luke Anderson, 170; Zachary Freeseha, 220; and heavyweight Jonathan Santos all were knocked out of the postseason.

“They all had moments during the year where they helped us and all of them improved,” Scott said.

Coming away with a fifth place finish at 106 pounds, Braiden Vega went 5-2 over the two days of competition and earned a medal but did not qualify for the Masters. The top four finishers in each weight class move on to the Masters, Friday and Saturday at the Stockton Arena.

“We had seven qualifiers,” Scott noted. “We had two champions.”

Qualifiers included Livius Seung, battling through an injury and a tough tournament to go 4-2 and finish in fourth place at 132 pounds, nailing down the final qualifying spot in the weight class.

“Wrestling as good as I have seen him this season, Aidan Krieger went 5-1 at 120 pounds and took third place,” said Scott. “David Ryan went 5-1 at 160 pounds and took third place.”

Earning second place honors over the weekend were Jake Lawrence at 182 pounds and Stephen Mendez at 195 pounds.

“Jake went 4-1 and took second, he lost the finals in overtime, we were very happy with his effort,” Scott explained. “Stephen was 4-1 and he has just improved monstrously this season.”

Champions for the Cougars came at 126 and 138 pounds.

Going 5-0 to claim a Section individual title for Escalon was Alex Jimenez at 126 pounds while Rhys Panero claimed an individual championship at 138 pounds, also going 5-0.

“We took second place as a team, Calaveras took first,” Scott said of the Divisionals competition for Division 5. “I thought we wrestled really well, overall we were pleased with the performance.”

Now, he said, they hope to get several of the wrestlers through the Masters and on to the State Meet.

Masters competition begins at 9 a.m. both Friday and Saturday, Feb. 23 and 24.