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Strong Showing For Wrestlers at Weekend Engel Tournament

Four Cougars earned first place honors in the two-day Lloyd C. Engel Wrestling Tournament over the weekend, with Thomas Martin also picking up Most Outstanding heavyweight honors.

The format of the Friday-Saturday event had wrestlers in preliminary round action Friday to determine pool placement, with three pools available. Those with the best records in the preliminary rounds went to Pool A, followed by Pool B and Pool C.

The host team had 18 wrestlers taking part in the competition.

"As a team our goal every week is to keep improving," said head coach Derek Scott. "I felt we were able to do that."

First place honors went to Martin, who compiled a perfect 7-0 record and was first in Pool A at 189 pounds.

"He was also voted the most outstanding heavyweight and we've been waiting for this for a while," Scott said. "He's been on the verge of this and we were happy to see it come together for him."

First place finishers in Pool B for the Cougars were Tyler Draper at 145 pounds, Justin Wade at 215 pounds and Paul Brown at heavyweight.

Draper went 6-1 over the two days, Wade compiled a 5-1 mark and Brown also went 5-1.

Not quite up to the weight he should be for the division, Brown nonetheless got the better of his opponents.

"He is one of the toughest guys in the gym," Scott said. "He beat two kids that outweighed him by at least 50 pounds."

There were three second place efforts by the Cougars, Christian Franks going 6-1 and finishing second at 103 pounds in Pool A, Bryan Toy also went 6-1, second in Pool A at 112 and Brandon Collins, wrestling at 215 pounds, going 3-3 and finishing second in Pool C.

Third place honors went to Anthony Rodriguez, 6-1, 119 pounds, Pool A; Clint Lane, 3-4, 160, Pool C; Anthony Aho, 5-1, heavyweight, Pool B.

Chase Keener turned in a fourth place effort, going 4-3 in Pool A at 160 pounds.

Wrestling but not placing were: Tyler Gonzales, 140, 3-2, Pool A; Charlie McDonald, 152, 4-2, Pool A; Mike Gutierrez, 171, 4-2, Pool A; Brandon Williams, 189, 3-2, Pool A; Joe Cowan, heavyweight, 4-2, Pool A.

Bowing out with an injury default were Anthony Munoz, going 0-4 at 119 and Nick Williamson, who was forced to withdraw after compiling a 3-2 mark in Pool B at 171 pounds.

Scott said there were 28 teams at the tournament and most brackets were full. He was happy with several Cougar wrestlers, putting together solid efforts in the competition.

"Christian Franks beat a really good guy in the semifinals and Bryan Toy wrestled great, he lost 6-2 in the finals to a state ranked kid from East High in Bakersfield," Scott explained. "I also thought Tyler Draper, Clint Lane and Mike Gutierrez really showed improvement."

High marks also went to Brandon Williams, showing well in his first varsity competition, and Justin Wade, his first time medaling at a tournament.

Medals went to the top three placers in each pool.

"I was especially pleased that we had three heavyweights, usually you can't get anyone to wrestle at that weight and we had three out there doing well," Scot said of Brown, Cowan and Aho.

The tournament ran smoothly, Scott added.

"I thought it went great and I want to thank all the parents for helping, Sheila Garside and Cami Franks were there at the snack bar almost the while time, also thanks to Bob Toy and to Hashem Naraghi," he said.

There were also many parents assisting at the head table, taking shifts in the snack bar and assisting in any way possible.

The tournament wrapped up a busy week for the wrestlers, who also hosted Waterford on Wednesday night in the first league match. Escalon took a 40-33 win in what Scott said was a crucial match. Down a couple of kids, the team pulled together and got the win, with key matches from Taren Milazzo and Tyler Draper. Tyler Gonzales and Thomas Martin also wrestled well in the meet.

The Cougars were slated to travel to Mariposa for a league match on Tuesday, Jan. 15 after The Times went to press and the JV team will be in action Saturday, hosting the Mel Focha Tournament starting at 9 a.m.