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Vega, Casillas Ready To Represent Escalon At State
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Cougar Brad Hagglund grapples with an opponent during action Saturday in the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament hosted at Delta College in Stockton. He finished eighth in the 160-pound class. Dennis D. Cruz/The Times

Eight wrestlers – four boys and four girls – went to the Masters Tournament this past weekend and two will continue on to the State Meet in Bakersfield.

Lady Cougar wrestlers Mikayla Vega, a senior, and Julia Casillas, a junior, both qualified for the state competition, picking up second place honors in their respective weight classes at the Masters.

Other girls competing were junior Kaylee Freeseha and sophomore Kaitlyn Ruiz while the boys battling in the Masters were sophomore Aidan Krieger, senior Alex Jimenez, and juniors Garrett Nash and Brad Hagglund.

For the boys, head coach Derek Scott said he was pleased overall with the effort and intensity.

“I felt we wrestled to the best of our ability,” Scott said.

Competition was both Friday and Saturday, Feb. 15 and 16, with the top six in each weight class earning a spot at the State Meet.

At 126 pounds, Aidan Krieger went 1-2.

“He was very competitive, especially in his last match,” Scott said of the sophomore. “We’re very excited for him for next year.”

Having a tough end to his season – and his high school career – was Alex Jimenez at 132 pounds. He compiled a record of 1-2 at the Masters, taken down in the last five seconds of a match to keep him from continuing on in the tournament.

“It was a disappointing way for him to end his career,” noted Scott.

Garrett Nash was a solid competitor at 145 pounds for Escalon. He battled to a mark of 3-2, losing by one point in his final match but finishing in the top 12.

Taking eighth place for Escalon was Brad Hagglund at 160 pounds, finishing the Masters with a 4-3 record.

“He was ahead of a Vacaville wrestler ranked fourth in the Section but was taken down with three seconds left,” Scott said of Hagglund taking the last second loss to knock him out of contention. “He wrestled incredibly well, he didn’t do anything wrong; it was just heartbreaking not to see him get rewarded for his efforts.”

For the girls, Kaylee Freeseha went 0-2 at 106 pounds, battling injuries throughout the Masters. Kaitlyn Ruiz also went 0-2, wrestling at 150 pounds, but gained plenty of good experience for next season.

“Mikayla and Julia both made it to the finals,” Scott said of his top two female wrestlers.

Vega, taking the mats at 113 pounds, went 4-1 and lost in the finals to the top ranked girl in the state at that weight, falling by one point.

“Mikayla is a four-time state qualifier, she joins Curtis Schurkamp and Brent Focha as the only four time state qualifiers in Escalon history,” Scott pointed out.

Casillas has peaked at the right time, her hard work during the season coming to fruition.

“She went 4-1, lost in the finals to take second and she will be going to state for the first time,” said Scott.

The girls will compete in Bakersfield, with the State Meet running from Thursday, Feb. 21 through Saturday, Feb. 23.