It was a busy weekend of wrestling for all levels at Escalon High School, with the varsity boys, varsity girls and JV boys all taking the mats.
At the varsity boys level, the Cougars came away with the Trans-valley League championship.
“I was a little nervous; Hughson’s been coming on and we didn’t wrestle well last week and lost one of our number one seeds that morning unexpectedly,” head coach Derek Scott said of attending the TVL championship in Ripon on Saturday, Feb. 4. “That’s at least 30 points we were down. The 13 boys that wrestled quickly removed any doubt who was the best team in the league. We had all 13 qualify to divisionals with seven champions and 11 finalists in the 13 weight classes we had represented.”
Taking home runner up honors were Matthew Rangel, Logan Wentzell, and Talan Reider.
“I thought they all three wrestled hard and just got beat by guys more ready at that time,” Scott explained. “The seven Cougars taking home titles were Luca Cerasi, JW Mills, Christian T. Cruz, Logan Dooley, Anthony Jones, John Konradi, and David Ingles. I was really happy with these guys … I thought Luca dominated a guy he beat by a point last week, Mills looked as solid as he has all year, Cruz impressed the coaches enough to get most outstanding lightweight wrestler, Dooley after an up and down year came on at the right time.”
Getting some extra kudos were Konradi, Jones and Ingles.
“I’m more impressed by Konradi by the match, he is super athletic, competes hard and wants to win. Anthony Jones really looked great bouncing back from a tough couple of weeks,” noted Scott. “David Ingles has been an inspiration all year, he just loves being out there and working hard every day in practice. He used to let setbacks really bother him. He was sick all week and didn’t miss a beat. I have been extremely proud of the job David has done this year on and off the mats. He’s going to surprise some people in the next couple of weeks.”
In the team race the Cougars dominated the tournament beating second place Hughson by 56 points, with the score being Hughson 229 and EHS having 285.
“This clinched the TVL title for the reigning TVL and Section Champions,” said Scott.
In voting by all coaches, Scott and his staff also received the TVL coach of the year honors for the 18th time in 21 years.
“This is truly a statement of the great support I have received over the years from the coaches, parents and the community,” Scott said.
He offered thanks to his assistant coaches Ray Scott, Ray Krieger, Brent Noon Sr., Eric Rowe, Seth Davis, Kirt Smith, Andrew Baroni, Nick Hanson, Jeremy Mills, Erica Lopez, Julia Casillas; and parent Brianne Cerasi for their tremendous help this year.
The varsity boys go to the Divisionals next at Hughson, Feb. 17 and 18, where the top four will qualify for Masters.
The Lady Cougars entered the TVL looking for a playoff push before this week’s regionals qualifier at Central Valley. Led by coach Julia Casillas the Cougars brought six wrestlers with one missing because of a family funeral.
“We had three champions out of six wrestlers,” Scott said.
Taking third was Ashlyn Paxman, who Scott said is continuing to try to bring the same intensity in matches as she does in practice.
“Wrestling hard, falling short of league titles were Jessica Freitas and Aislin Ingles. I thought both girls tried hard and were in winnable matches, we just need to hold our technique better when we get tired,” Scott explained. “Taking home the TVL title for the Lady Cougars were Angeline Mills, Isabella Alcala, and Dani Roybal. I thought Angeline looked the best she has all year. She is down at the right weight and I thought was able to display her true grit. The girls are getting better and going right. Julia’s really been working hard bonding with the girls as of late and they are starting to gain confidence.”
The girls compete on Feb. 11 at the southwest regionals at Central Valley High School with the top seven moving on to Masters.
Escalon had five wrestlers competing at the JV boys level with four taking home titles. The four champions were Jaiden Nguyen, Patton Mello, Cruz Snow, and Christian Rodriguez.
“We saw numbers really go down at the JV level since our return after COVID,” Scott said. “We were inconsistent with attendance at this level but these were the most solid and that’s why they were there at the end. The hard luck story of the group was second year wrestler Christian Rodriguez who was on varsity until having to drop down due to the weight class being filled at the varsity level.
“After losing his spot and not being sure if he was going to be varsity until the last day he just kept working, never complaining or missing a beat. That’s the kind of young man any coach wants on his team. I was very impressed with Christian this year,” Scott said.