A heartbreaking injury to Escalon senior Frankie Bavaro ended Escalon’s run to a likely section crown, the wrestling Cougars poised to defeat Calaveras in the team section duals on Saturday after battling back from being down by double digit points.
“I knew it would be an even match,” Escalon head coach Derek Scott said. “We started off really well, Austin Martinez at 170 pounds and Matt Gallego at 182 got tough wins and Dominic Freeseha looked real good at 220 in getting his win.”
But that’s when it fell apart on the mats, as the Calaveras squad got on a roll.
“We fell behind 31-10, lost five matches in a row,” Scott said.
That put Cameron DuBois into a tough spot, taking the mats at 132 pounds and knowing he had to win to give the Cougars a fighting chance to take the match.
“He ended up winning 10-6, that was a huge win for him and for us, if he didn’t win, we’re basically out of the dual,” said Scott.
Gaining some momentum, Tyler Lawrence then made a triumphant return to the mats after missing several weeks due to injury, winning by pin at 138 pounds.
“Colton Camara then took his time, pinned a kid in the third round at 145 pounds, and Josh Redding wrestled their second best kid, knowing he had to win, Josh won it 10-4 at 152 pounds,” Scott explained.
For the Cougars, that brought it to the 160-pound match, with Frankie Bavaro taking on a wrestler he had beaten a couple of weeks ago, with the title on the line.
Scott said if Bavaro had gotten the win, the teams would have tied 31-31 but the Cougars would have gotten the title via the tiebreaker, having won more weight classes. The match was going according to plan, with Bavaro in control and actually working for a possible pin late in the first round when the injury occurred.
“He dislocated his arm at the end of the first round, it was a devastating, horrible way to end his season,” Scott said. “He was one of our captains this year, a great kid who worked hard; he deserved a better hand than that.”
Scott said it’s unclear exactly what happened but it appeared as though Bavaro went down awkwardly near the edge of the mat while trying to keep his opponent in bounds, dislocating the arm and suffering a possible bicep tear.
“It was quite an emotional swing,” admitted Scott, noting that losing Bavaro to the devastating injury put a damper on the competition. Calaveras won the 160-pound match by injury default, getting credit for a pin, going on to claim the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V title 37-28.
“It was just a freaky thing,” Scott said.
He also credited the Calaveras team, which he said did not outwardly celebrate the victory, showing more concern for the injured Bavaro than taking delight in the win.
“I was glad we wrestled Calaveras, they showed some class,” Scott said. “I was also real proud of the guys, we were in a big hole, for our guys to have the composure, go out there and get four matches in a row to put us in a good position … it was a great dual, I just feel horrible for the kids and obviously for Frankie.”
Escalon had a bye in the first round of the team duals on Saturday, then faced off with Linden in the semifinals before meeting Calaveras in the finals. Linden defeated Lindhurst 63-18 in the first round but didn’t have the firepower to hold off Escalon, which took a 57-18 win over the Lions in the semifinal round.
“Against Linden, the big wins came from Kyle Jimenez at 106 pounds (win by pin), Justin Azevedo at 115 (pin) and Trenton Busch, he won 8-2 at 132 pounds,” Scott said of standouts in that competition.
“This week we go to the TVL finals in Hughson, we should be the favorite,” Scott said of looking to secure the TVL title outright. “From there the top four (in each weight class) advance to divisionals.”
The Cougars will have to fill Bavaro’s 160-pound weight and Scott said they will determine this week who will take on that role. Bavaro, meanwhile, is likely to need surgery.
“It’s just a shame, you go into something thinking it will be one of the best memories of high school and you end up leaving in an ambulance,” Scott said.
Wrestling in the TVL finals starts at 9 a.m. at Hughson High School on Saturday, Feb. 15.