On Tuesday night, Jan. 14 the Escalon High School wrestling teams, the varsity boys, varsity girls, and JV boys competed against Livingston High School. The JV got off to a slow start and never got going.
“Basically we needed to not get pinned in any of the three matches. We had more forfeits than them,” said head coach Derek Scott. “I don’t ever tell them not to get pinned. I always want to teach every kid to compete and believe he or she is good enough to win. It’s up to them to win or lose, to fight the whole match.”
This particular night, Escalon lost all three JV matches that were wrestled, and lost each one by pin.
“Except Ryan Trick we weren’t really competitive. We didn’t come out with the intensity we needed and it burned us,” Scott said.
The loss was only the second JV dual loss in coach Scott’s 20 years with the program.
“I keep telling the young guys this is high school; we have to have intensity in practice to compete hard in matches.”
The JV score was 24-24, with Livingston winning based on the fact that they won more of the wrestled matches.
After the JV match the Cougars celebrated Senior Night. The team’s seniors and captains were, for the girls, Kaylee Freeseha and Julia Casillas, and for the boys Brad Hagglund, Garrett Nash, Manuel Diaz and big Sean Vassallo. Coach Scott then thanked his mom, wife and daughter and also led the team and crowd in an emotional moment of silence after speaking on behalf of Kaylee Freeseha, stating how impressed he has been with her attitude and work ethic despite suffering great tragedy in her life. The crowd then observed a moment of silence for the late Matt Freeseha, a friend of Scott’s and the Escalon wrestling program; he was Kaylee’s father and Nicolas’s brother.
Then EHS girls then took the mats. The girls won two of the five matches. Winning in dominant style were seniors Freeseha and Casillas. Coach Erica Lopez stated the girls “need to continue to improve their practice intensity.”
The score of the girls match was Livingston 42, Escalon 12.
In the final competition of the evening, both varsity boys teams came in undefeated, with a victory putting them in the driver’s seat for a team duals berth. The Cougars were facing an uphill battle having four wrestlers out for various reasons.
“The team responded great, beating a very tough Livingston team, the score being Escalon 45, Livingston 33,” said Scott.
Winning matches were Luis Garcia, Sebastian Snow, Jorge Gonzalez, Aidan Krieger, Garrett Nash, Brad Hagglund and Manuel Diaz.
“Key winners were Garrett Nash and Sebastian Snow, and I thought the key match of the night was Jorge Gonzalez getting a fall after getting dominated in the first round,” explained Scott. “The senior leaders were dominating in the last three matches to seal the deal with Sean Vassallo accepting a forfeit after the match was no longer in doubt.”
Earlier action against Ripon, Jan. 8, saw six JV matches wrestled with the young Cougars winning five of six and taking the match, 39-18. Winners were Austin Roberts, Pietro Orlando, Preston Ball, Luke Oliver, Sebastian Snow.
The girls varsity match saw four girls wrestle with Freeseha and Casillas winning their matches. The final score was Ripon 42, Escalon 12.
The varsity boys dual saw 10 matches wrestled with Escalon winning eight. Winning were Luis Garcia at 113 pounds, Jorge Gonzalez at 120, Christian Rowe at 132, Aidan Krieger 138, Brad Hagglund 170, Manuel Diaz 182, Sean Vassallo at heavyweight. With three forfeits wins as well, the final score was Escalon 69, Ripon 12.
The team then went to the very tough Foothill tournament at Cal Expo in Sacramento on Jan. 10 and 11. The team had 12 wrestlers compete and Scott said the best two performances of the weekend were Manny Diaz at 170 going 3-2 finishing in the top 12 and Brad Hagglund, going 4-2 to finish in the top 10.
“Manuel wrestled to his ability. He doesn’t have a ton of experience or natural talent. Manny does a great job of staying with his game plan and just works the other guy into mistakes,” said Scott. “Brad wrestled hard and is getting in better shape every time out. He just has to get a little meaner and take the close matches.”
The girls team made the trip to the multiple state tournament in Napa.
“This is a state, if not harder, like tournament. We had two girls compete. Kaylee Freeseha at 111 went 2-2 and finished in the top 16. At 131 going 3-2 to finish in the top 12 one round out of medals was Julia Casillas,” explained Scott. “Once again the girls just have to bounce back better from losses at these bigger tournaments.”