With four champions, Escalon claimed the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 5 (V) blue banner on Saturday, topping rival Calaveras for the Section crown.
“We took 14 guys, 13 got to wrestle,” said head coach Derek Scott, noting that one alternate did not get to take the mats.
Three Cougars that wrestled did not come home with medals, including Justin Azevedo, who went 0-1 at 115 pounds and strained a muscle in his back during the first match, which turned out to be his only one as he had to leave the competition due to the injury. Clayton Jones, at 120, and Marc Camarena, at heavyweight, both finished their seasons and went 0-2 at the divisionals, hosted at Delhi.
“Ten of our guys medaled,” Scott said.
That was key, as Calaveras had one more wrestler in the mix and could have outdistanced Escalon for the blue banner. But with 10 medalists and six wrestlers in the finals, the Cougars earned more points than Calaveras.
“We had to do really well to beat Calaveras,” Scott said, with the team coming through with flying colors.
The top four qualify for the Masters Meet and Escalon had eight wrestlers in that category.
Taking fifth place honors, earning medals but not advancing to Masters were Cameron DuBois and Clayton Keener.
“Cameron went 4-2 at 132 pounds, he had a really good season,” said Scott.
Kudos also went to Keener, who stepped up to fill in admirably for the injured Frankie Bavaro at 160 pounds.
“It was his best tournament ever, Clayton went 4-2 for fifth place,” Scott said. “He did a huge job, he won four matches with three pins, and scored a ton of points.”
That helped the Cougars pin down the Section title, as every point was important, said Scott.
Of the eight wrestlers that qualified to Masters, there were two with third place finishes, two with seconds and four champions.
“Taking third at 145 pounds was Josh Redding, he lost a one-point match to a tough kid,” Scott said of Redding just missing out on a top two finish.
Matt Gallego was third at 182 pounds and his day included a crucial pin in the medal round for Escalon as well.
“We sent six to the finals, taking second place was Kyle Jimenez at 106 pounds, he went 4-1,” Scott said. “Also Austin Martinez, he went 4-1 at 170.”
Redding, Gallego, Jimenez and Martinez will join the four individual Section champions at the Masters Meet, with the first place showings coming at 138, 145, 195 and 220 pounds.
“Tyler Lawrence pinned all four of his guys, going 4-0 at 138 pounds, Colton Camara at 145 dominated all his guys in going 4-0,” Scott explained. “At 195 pounds and avenging a loss from a couple weeks ago, A.J Camarena beat a Calaveras kid 11-3 in the finals and went 4-0. Also dominating all his opponents was Dominic Freeseha, he went 4-0 at 220.”
Overall for the Section competition, Escalon was 8-2 in the medal rounds.
“We beat Calaveras by 20 points to be Section champion,” said Scott. “Everybody stepped up did a great job. We were only ahead of Calaveras by two points going into the medal round.”
But the strong final round showing pushed Escalon over the top and helped them bring home the banner, as well as the competition at Delhi getting them ready for the Masters Meet this coming weekend at the Stockton Arena.
Wrestling will be Friday and Saturday and the top seven in each weight class at the Masters will move on to the State Wrestling Meet.
“We should be ready for it,” Scott said of the Masters, with many wrestlers peaking at the right time.