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Wrestlers Finish Second In Section To Central
Only Central Catholic stood in Escalon's way for the wrestling section title, but the Cougars couldn't get past the number of state-ranked wrestlers put on the mats by Central and fell in the final round Saturday at Rosemont.

Still, coach Derek Scott was happy with the section runner-up status and will lead Escalon into the Trans-Valley League Tournament looking to win the league title outright on Feb. 9.

In a busy week for the grapplers, they met up with Ripon at Escalon on Wednesday, Jan. 30 for the final dual meet of the season, then traveled to the team dual sections on Saturday.

Wednesday, the JV and varsity both came away with wins on Senior Night, with 14 seniors recognized for their efforts on the mats. Seniors are Justin Wade, James Baracosa, Anthony Aho, Cody Bandini, Brandon Collins, Joe Cowan, Tyler Draper, Nick Hanson, Chase Keener, Clint Lane, Jose Lopez, Anthony Rodriguez, Bryan Toy and Nick Williamson.

Starting things off, the JV wrestlers earned a 45-0 win, with just five wrestlers having to hit the mats for matches. Wining those were Hanson, 135, win by pin; Colin Keener, 152, 6-4 decision; Andrew Baroni, 160, win by pin; Mike Gutierrez, 171, win by pin and Jose Aguirre, 189, win by pin.

"That clinched the league title, the JV were undefeated league champs and we were pretty pleased with that," Scott said. "The JV team has really come on the last month."

The varsity, with a 57-19 win, clinched the top seed from the league for the dual section meet. Winners were Christian Franks, 103, by pin; Anthony Munoz, 112, by pin; Toy, 119, by pin; Rodriguez, 125, by pin; Bandini, 135, by pin; Draper, 145, 11-6 decision; Lane, 152, by pin; Thomas Martin, 189, by pin; Collins, 215 by forfeit; Aho, heavyweight, by pin. Losses came at 130 pounds, Martin Castillo, by pin; Tyler Gonzales, 140, 3-1 loss; 160, Chase Keener, by decision and 171, Lopez, by decision.

"It was a real good match," Scott said. "We won convincingly, got some seniors in and the kids were real focused."

Opening up the team dual sections with fellow number one seed Lindhurst, the Cougars won a close one, 33-29, in Saturday's first round action.

Wins by pin came from Franks, Toy, Martin, Paul Brown at 215 and Cowan at heavyweight, with Chase Keener winning by decision.

"They (Lindhurst) won more matches, but we got the falls (wins by pin) where we needed them and didn't get pinned when we lost," Scott said of earning enough points for the win.

In the semifinals, the Cougars faced off with Calaveras, a team they have had trouble with in the past, said Scott. This time, they got a 40-23 win.

Franks won by decision, Toy won by pin, with other wins by pin coming from Gonzales, Gutierrez and Martin. Earning wins by decision were Bandini, Draper, Chase Keener and Brown.

"That was the best dual we've had all year," Scott said of the win over Calaveras.

That put Escalon into the section final against the tough Central Catholic squad.

"They have three guys that are ranked number one in the state, they just have a stacked team," Scott said. "We lost 49-16 and even though it was an ugly score, that was about as good as I thought we would do."

All four Escalon wins in the match came on decisions, with Bandini, Gonzales, Draper and Rodriguez taking the wins.

"So we're the section runner up and we were pretty pleased with that," said Scott.

On Saturday, Feb. 9, the Cougars will host the TVL Finals starting at 9 a.m. Escalon will look to claim the league title, but will face some tough competition from Waterford, which is also hoping to share or win the crown.

Escalon, Hughson, Waterford, Mariposa and Ripon will be the schools there, while Riverbank and Denair will send individual wrestlers, with the goal of qualifying for the Divisionals in Ripon on Feb. 15 and 16.