In Wednesday’s meet on the road at Hilmar, a couple of matches got away from Escalon … and that was enough to make the difference.
“We wrestled a lot better, but there were two matches we lost that we were way ahead in, they swung the match,” head coach Derek Scott said. “We lost 35-30.”
Varsity grapplers showing well included Livius Seung and Rhys Panero, both of whom defeated solid Hilmar wrestlers, along with David Ryan, who won by pin in a match where he battled both his opponent and was coming back from illness.
“Most impressive were Christian Manzo and Marco Mendoza, they beat Hilmar’s two best kids,” Scott added, even though they knew the final score was going to be in host Hilmar’s favor.
The JV Cougars, putting up a 54-22 victory, remain undefeated in league.
“This past weekend, we were two different places with three different groups,” Scott explained. “Varsity guys that didn’t have 40 matches went to Gregori.”
The JV boys and varsity girls, meanwhile, went to the Enochs Tournament.
For the varsity wrestlers at Gregori, Panero took second place honors with a 3-1 mark at 132 pounds, losing in the finals by a 3-0 decision.
Livius Seung took third place at 132 and, in his first real varsity tournament, Brad Hagglund put together a 3-2 mark at 145 pounds, wrestling well.
At 160 pounds, Julian Gutierrez went 2-3 for sixth place and Stephen Mendez had the same 2-3 mark at 182, also taking sixth. Alfredo Zarate took fourth place with a 2-2 mark at 195 pounds.
At Enochs, the JV boys got a second place showing from Gino Stern at 106 pounds, 3-1; Braiden Vega, 106 pounds, 3-1, third place; Marco Silva, 132, 2-1, second place; Levi Hale, 138, 2-1, second place; and Dylan Dugo, 2-2, heavyweight, fourth place.
Scott pointed to the effort of Silva as being his best of the year so far and noted that Dugo avenged an earlier season loss to a wrestler to finish in the top five.
For the varsity girls, all three Cougars did well, with Julia Casillas taking third place at 121 pounds with a 3-2 mark. Adela Ley-Han went 3-2 at 106 pounds for third place and Mikayla Vega went 4-1 at 106 pounds, finishing second.
“She lost in a heartbreaker with about five seconds left,” Scott said. “But we are very encouraged with the girls, we think we could have three state qualifiers.”
The Cougars were scheduled to be at Mountain House for a league meet on Wednesday and then the JV boys and varsity girls will head to the Elk Grove Tournament this weekend.