After a Wednesday night meet with Hughson, the Cougar wrestlers settled in for a busy couple of days late in the week, hosting the annual Lloyd C. Engel Tournament on Friday and Saturday.
Head coach Derek Scott said about three dozen teams attended the event.
“I felt it was a really good turnout as far as teams go,” Scott said. “The squads were a little smaller but we still had real good numbers.”
The Cougars also had plenty of wrestlers on the mats, competing in a number of different pools, A through D.
“Braiden Vega took second place in Pool B at 106 pounds, he went 3-3,” said Scott.
For Vega, many of his opponents have a big size advantage. Even though he wrestles at 106, he usually is giving up about 10 pounds, noted the coach.
In Pool C, Livius Seung went 4-2 and earned first place honors at 138 pounds. Also taking first place, going 4-1 at 145 pounds in Pool D, was Brad Hagglund.
Izaac Sipma battled his way to a third place finish with a 3-3 mark at 152 pounds in Pool C; Roman Gonzalez also finished third in Pool C at 160 pounds with a 3-3 record.
Pool B action saw Julian Gutierrez take fourth place, going 3-3 at 170 pounds. At 195 pounds in Pool B, Alfredo Zarate went 3-3 for third place; Erik Espinoza went 4-3 for a third place showing at 220 pounds in Pool B.
“Going 3-1 and taking second place in Pool B was Blue Capps at heavyweight,” Scott explained. “In what I felt was the most exciting match, in only his second competition, Blue handled the guy in the finals, was leading but just ran out of gas in the last 30 seconds.”
Capps is new to wrestling this year, trying it for the first time. He has shown solid improvement since his first matches a couple of weeks ago, said Scott, and came close to notching first place in the tournament. He settled for second place honors.
Several Cougars were in the highest level, Pool A, and put up mixed results.
“I thought wrestling the best he has wrestled all season was Garrett Nash, he went 3-3 at 113 pounds and did not place but looked the best he has in a while,” Scott said. “Alex Jimenez went 4-2 and took second place at 120 pounds, he continued to wrestle well, both that he lost were winnable matches.”
Ethan Krieger went 3-2 at 145 pounds, wrestling well, but did not place. Also not placing but putting together a 3-3 mark was Christian Manzo, wrestling at 152 pounds.
“David Ryan went 4-2 at 160 pounds, we were very pleased with David, he did exactly what we hoped, the two matches he barely lost were right at the end,” Scott noted, with Ryan ending with a fourth place finish.
Marco Mendoza went 6-1 at 170 pounds, taking third place in Pool A, a solid showing for the senior. Stephen Mendez went 3-2 at 182 pounds, not placing in the top pool but getting in some good work.
“Rhys Panero went 3-0 on the first day, but I sat him out as precaution the second day,” Scott said. “This was his first competition of the season, he wrestled at 138 pounds and looked real good.”
Panero was hampered by injuries last year and is just now getting back on the mats.
Scott said the tournament went off well, with plenty of help and support from the school administration, athletic director Mark Loureiro, several parents, and students that assisted with timing and scoring.
“This is one of the biggest tournaments at a small school,” Scott said. “I want to thank my family for doing the head table, all my assistant coaches, the Williams family organized and ran the snack bar the whole time, also the McCoy and Naragahi families for sponsoring the event.”
Along with Loureiro being on scene, Superintendent Ron Costa was on hand for portions of the tournament and former superintendent Bob Wallace was there for several hours on Saturday, noted Scott.
“I really also want to thank our community in general for supporting the event, and the Lions Club for doing the coaches lunch, Ed Alves and Danny Fox coordinated that.”
Earlier in the week, the Cougars hosted Hughson in the first dual meet of the Trans-Valley League season. The JV Cougars won by forfeit, 72-0, while the Varsity won 61-9.
“Good matches were by Alex Jimenez, he won by decision, 13-0 at 132 pounds and Rhys Panero at 138 pounds, he won by fall in his first action of the season,” Scott said. “The best match was by Livius Seung, he lost 3-1 in overtime at 145 pounds to Hughson’s best wrestler.”
Other notable victories for Escalon came at 182 pounds with Stephen Mendez winning by fall and at 195 pounds with Alfredo Zarate winning by fall.
This week, the Cougars host Ripon in a 6:30 p.m. match tonight, Wednesday, Jan. 11 for Senior Night. Friday, the team heads to the Foothill Tournament in Sacramento while the girls go to the Tokay Tournament on Saturday.