ESCALON — The annual Engel Wrestling Tournament happened at a convenient week for Modesto High’s Saavedra brothers.
Both Israel, the sophomore and 2013 state champion, an Emilio, the senior and two-time state medalist, performed as expected Saturday. Which is to say they romped to impressive weight-class titles at Escalon High.
The two-day tournament turned out to be handy therapy for the Saavedra’s after their near-misses last week at the Doc Buchanan, arguably the second most prestigious event of the season behind the State Meet. Both dropped title matches, Emilio by pin and Israel surprising beaten by Durbin Lloren of Buchanan.
“It was kind of a quiet household this week. We both know we should have won,” Emilio Saavedra said. “We’ve left it behind us. I guarantee you it won’t happen again at state.”
Moments before, Emilio (16-1) romped 19-4 past state-ranked Colin Hustrulid of Ponderosa in the 146-pound final. That was Emilio’s sixth straight win of the two-day meet.
Israel (23-2), 70-3 so far in his prep career, used five pins – the last one over Trevor Williams of Oakdale – to dominate the 127s.
“I was mad,” Israel said in reference to last week’s loss in front of more than 2,200 at Clovis High. Lloren shocked the Panther star with an escape, takedown and near-fall in the final 90 seconds.
“I hope I learn from that the next time,” Israel continued. “I think I’ll see him again.”
Feeling his sons’ angst was Modesto coach Angel Saavedra, though the Escalon meet surely salved those week-old wounds.
“They’ve got that hunger back,” Angel said earlier this week. “I thought they took those losses pretty good. It will make them more hungry.”
The Saavedra’s, two of four Modesto High champions, spiced the Engel, which drew more than 400 wrestlers from 38 schools. The second day no doubt tested everyone’s stamina. League duals are under way, resulting in a busy week capped by back-to-back long days at Escalon.
The pace didn’t bother Modesto junior Angel Velasquez, the 133-pound champion who was named the tournament’s top lower weight star. Velasquez (25-3), who took the scenic route to Modesto after stops at Pitman and Central Catholic, cradled Cadence Mitchell of Gregori in 1:06 for the title.
Velasquez has wrestled since he was 3 and followed his father and grandfather onto the mat. As a freshman at Central Catholic, he was 33-1 before he missed weight at his league tournament.
“I’ve never cradled anybody. It was surprising,” he said in reference to Saturday’s finals victory. “None of this matters until the state tournament.
The Engel’s best upper-weight star was Oakdale 182-pound junior Frankie Trent, who annexed his first tournament title after a second at the Riddle and a third at the Morning Star. He did pick up a win at the Doc B, where experience-gaining trumped glory.
“There’s more seriousness in the arena. More tension,” he said.
The meet’s outstanding wrestler, as voted by the coaches on hand, was Turlock’s Albino Orozco. who needed only 1:12 to pin Ponderosa’s Trae Providence in the 162 final.
Other weight-class champions included Logan Eaton of Oakdale (114), Nico Colunga of Oakdale (121), Paul Fagbamilla of Beyer (139), Adam Darwish of Modesto (195) and Dominic Freesha of Escalon (220).
Colunga, an eighth-place medalist last year at Bakersfield, continued his strong junior season with a 6-3 decision over Elk Grove’s Tristan Scott to win the 121s. A 3-point third-period was the difference. Oakdale stamped a large footprint on the Engel with wrestlers in six finals.
Fagbamilla (13-3), who swung nonstop into wrestling from football, enjoyed a 12-3 title win over Livingston’s Jose Ruelas, the champion at Turlock’s Bulldog Classic last week.\
“In wrestling, you take thousands of shots each year,” Fagbamilla said. “Wrestling is more tough (than football) physically and mentally.”
Darwish, a senior, earned his first tournament title by parlaying a second-period takedown into a 3-1 win over Oakdale’s Miguel Ibarra.