Action for the Escalon wrestlers this week saw them competing at Modesto Junior College, with dual meets on day one and invitational action on day two. Overall, said head coach Derek Scott, it was a pretty successful event for the young grapplers.
“We had the dual meets the first day, we went 4-1 and took third place overall,” Scott explained. “There were 25 teams and I was a little nervous going in, nine of our 14 wrestlers are new starters.”
With some solid work, Escalon defeated Beyer, Patterson and Lincoln of Stockton in the dual meets, though they did fall to Golden Valley, the team that finished second overall in the dual meet portion of the competition.
“We handled Beyer, Patterson and Lincoln all pretty handily,” said Scott, noting the victory was 51-21 over Beyer and 69-15 over Patterson. It was a little tougher against Lincoln, but Escalon prevailed with a 36-30 win.
“The surprise of that match was Blue Capps, he plays basketball but came out for wrestling as a heavyweight,” Scott said.
Noting their need for a true heavyweight to fill out the weight classes, Capps was interested and Scott said Athletic Director Mark Loureiro gave the athlete the go-ahead to juggle the two winter sports. As often as he can, Capps will take the mats for the Cougars.
“Blue, in his second match ever, pinned the Lincoln kid,” Scott said of the difference maker in that dual meet.
“Then we got beat up by Golden Valley,” Scott explained.
The loss put Escalon into the third-fourth place match and they had to face off once again with Lincoln. This time, it was the same result but with a much different score.
“I was most pleased with our last match, it was a 45-15 win,” Scott said of handling Lincoln much easier the second time around. “Five of our guys had just wrestled them, and four of the five matches we lost earlier, we won two hours later. That just shows how much of wrestling is mental.”
That mental toughness pushed Escalon to the win and the third place team showing.
“Blue Capps once again pinned his guy, he went 3-1 with just a few weeks of practice,” Scott said of the senior taking the mats competitively for the first time this season. “He has been a real pleasant surprise, if we can manage his time around basketball, he makes our team much tougher.”
Returning to MJC for day two, Escalon finished in sixth place out of 35 teams in the tournament. Three wrestlers that were on the mats in the dual meets the day before had some little nagging injuries and opted not to compete, said Scott.
“Once the day got going, we had nine guys wrestle, six guys medaled,” the coach added.
Scott also was voted Coach of the Tournament, the honors awarded to him by a vote of fellow coaches.
Finishing in eighth place for the Cougars was Braiden Vega, competing at 106 pounds and compiling a 5-4 record over the two days. Marco Mendoza at 170 pounds finished with sixth place honors, going 7-3.
“We were really impressed with Stephen Mendez, he wrestled at 182 pounds and went 7-3 over the two days,” explained Scott, with Mendez taking fifth place.
Fourth place medals were presented to three Cougar wrestlers, including David Ryan at 160 pounds.
“He is a kid who wrestles tough every day and is improving a ton,” Scott said of his wrestler who went 7-3 in the tournament.
Livius Seung, at 132 pounds, went 6-4 and took three losses to the same wrestler, a Lincoln of Stockton grappler.
Alex Jimenez took the mats at 126 pounds and compiled an outstanding 8-2 record.
“He looked really tough,” Scott noted of Jimenez. “He looked the same for every match.”
It was the same approach for the grappler from his first match to his last, and Scott said the work ethic served him well, resulting in the medal.
This week, several varsity wrestlers will head out of state. Their destination is Reno, Nevada for a tournament there, the grapplers heading out on Tuesday, after The Times went to press.
“We will take 10 or 11 kids to the Sierra Nevada Tournament,” explained Scott. “There will be about 100 teams there from six or seven states. I’d be happy to have someone medal.”