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Next Level - Cougars Qualify Five To State Wrestling Meet
Five of Escalon's six Masters-qualifying wrestlers are moving on to the State Meet in Bakersfield.

The five moving on were among the best showing in the region, tied with Oakdale and Turlock for most wrestlers advancing to the prestigious state competition.

Head coach Derek Scott said he couldn't be happier with the effort of the Cougars.

"We brought six kids and all six won at least two matches and five are moving on," Scott said.

The Masters Tournament in Stockton ran Thursday and Friday, Feb. 23 and 24.

At 160 pounds, Garrett Wade went 2-2 for the tournament and failed to place, but closed out a hugely successful season on the mats for the Cougars.

"He did really well, wrestled his best at this tournament," Scott said.

The top seven wrestlers in each weight class qualified for state and the Cougars had three at that level, with Tyler Lawrence going 4-2 at 126 pounds. He perhaps had the toughest road, losing a quarterfinal match on a questionable scoring call, said Scott.

"That referee was not back for the second day," the coach pointed out. "But Tyler came back the next day and had his best match in the seventh-eighth place match against Turlock, he pinned the guy."

That put Lawrence into the state meet.

"He did a really good job of keeping his composure with that bad officiating call and just came back strong the next day," Scott said of the young grappler.

Johnathon Costa was seventh at 152 pounds with a 4-2 mark to qualify.

"He lost two close matches to the guys that met for third and fourth," Scott said. "He wrestled a great tournament."

Filling the 220-pound weight, senior Travis James punched his ticket to the state meet with a thriller.

"Travis had the best tournament of his life," Scott said. "He came from behind twice (in the placement match) and won in double overtime to advance."

Nailing down a sixth place finish for the Cougars was Jason Robbins at 145 pounds.

"He was not seeded entering this and he had a great tournament," Scott explained. "He had a ton of heart, had some real good matches."

Robbins went 5-3 over the two days of competition.

Highest finishing Cougar was Dylan Furtado, who took fourth place at 138 pounds.

"He took a tough loss the first day and had to wrestle well the second day to come back," Scott said. "He went 5-2 for fourth place."

Escalon as a team finished 11th at the Masters and went 8-0 in elimination matches, giving them some momentum as they head into the Bakersfield competition on Friday and Saturday, March 2 and 3.

"Five qualifiers is the most Escalon has ever had since it has gone to the whole state competition and as a coach, this is the best showing we've had since I've been here," Scott said. "I just want to thank all the coaches and parents, we've all been on the same page all season."

Scott offered thanks to the assistant coaches Danny Prado, Ray Scott, Ryan Esteves, Carlos Furtado, Jason Robbins, Ken Draper and Pinder Dosanjh for their efforts throughout the campaign.

"It's just everybody working together," Scott said of helping get the wrestlers to the next level.