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Trio Of JV Cougars Pin Down Top Wrestling Honors

There were mats filled with wrestlers in both the old and new gyms on the Escalon High School campus on Saturday, with the annual Mel Focha JV Tournament hosted by the Cougars.

Twenty-eight teams participated, with several JV Cougars turning in solid performances during the all-day event.

At 119 pounds, Martin Castillo went 4-0 and took first place, with Jose Aguirre also compiling a 4-0 mark at 189 pounds for a first place finish. Also at 189 pounds, newcomer to the sport Jose Lopez earned first place honors, going 4-0.

"He pinned everyone in the first round," coach Derek Scott noted of Lopez, who was a soccer standout for the Cougars this fall and decided to try wrestling for the winter.

"He's a great athlete, sometimes that doesn't translate into the skills you need," Scott said, adding that, for Lopez, the transition has been smooth. "I wish he had come out for wrestling a couple of years ago."

Second place finishes in the tournament went to Taren Milazzo, 135, 3-1; Clint Lane, 160, 3-1; Brandon Williams, 189, 3-1; and Josh Messersmith, heavyweight, 3-1.

Taking third place honors at the event were Anthony Munoz, 112, 2-2; John Lopez, 145, 2-2; Colin Keener, 152, 2-2; Glenn Wheat, 171, 2-2; and Andrew Baroni, 171, 2-2.

Wrestling but not placing on the day were Nick Hanson, 135, 0-4; and Cody Hodgson, 152, 1-3.

"We were pretty impressed with Taren, Brandon and Josh, they all looked real solid," Scott said. "Both Martin Castillo and Jose Aguirre showed great improvement and overall as a team, I thought we wrestled really well."

Scott also said the tournament "could not have happened" without the help of several families in the community, in addition to his assistant coaches and parent helpers.

"Special thanks to the Garside, Keener and Franks families," he said. "Also to Mike Pitassi, our paramedic service for the two (Engel and Focha) tournaments."

Bob Toy of Big Boy Market earned thanks for sponsoring the snack bar and Tom McCoy of Quality Service was noted for sponsoring the tournament. Parent Neil Hodgson was singled out by Scott for keeping stats and assisting wrestlers, while Scott also said his assistant coaches are an invaluable asset to both himself and the team members.

Earlier in the week, the Cougars traveled to Mariposa for a Trans-Valley League match and both the JV and varsity came home with wins.

The JV squad won 44-24, with the only Mariposa points coming on forfeit wins.

"Every contested match, we won," Scott said.

Winners were Joseph Antonacci, 140, win by pin; John Lopez, 145, win by pin; Cody Hodgson, 152, 8-1 decision; Clint Lane, 160, win by pin; Andrew Baroni, 171, 15-4 decision; Brandon Williams, 189, win by pin.

The varsity Cougars took a 55-19 win off the mats, with wins by pin from Christian Franks, 103; Bryan Toy, 112; Anthony Rodriguez, 135; Mike Gutierrez, 171; Thomas Martin, 189 and Anthony Aho, heavyweight.

Taking decisions were Martin Castillo, 130, and Colin Keener, 152 pounds. Brandon Collins got a forfeit win at 215 pounds.

At 119 pounds, Anthony Munoz lost by decision. Other losses for Escalon were Nick Hanson, 135, lost by pin; Tyler Gonzales, 140, lost by decision; Tyler Draper, 145, lost by disqualification; Chase Keener, 160, lost by decision.

Draper's disqualification means he will miss the next league match, set for Wednesday, Jan. 23 at Hughson. Scott said he was disappointed in the disqualification and in the fact that a couple of wrestlers that he feels should have won their matches weren't ready to go.

"I'm sure the two-and-a-half hour bus ride didn't help," he noted of the long trek to Mariposa. "We were able to get some different people in the line up, but some of our older guys just weren't ready to go ... we still won handily but I was disappointed that we weren't where we should have been."

The team will be down three starters for the Hughson match - with the disqualification and two others out for various reasons - Scott said the team will have to put together a solid effort all the way around to take the TVL match.

"I still think we can get it, we'll just have to wrestle really well," he said.

The JV and varsity travel to Hughson for the Jan. 23 meet, starting at 6:30 p.m. They head to Pitman for a Saturday tournament, then are home to host Ripon on Wednesday, Jan. 30 at 6:30 p.m.