State

Beyer's Congleton wins second Engel title in row

ESCALON -- Unlike many of the opponents he faces on the mat, Oliver Congleton wasn't born wearing a wrestling singlet.

"I didn't start wrestling until my freshman year, so I had to catch up pretty quickly," said Beyer High's 137-pounder. "I went to a lot of camps, met a lot of wrestlers and coaches, and tried to learn as much as I could as fast as I could."

Congleton showed Saturday that he is a fast learner, pinning D.J. Huddleston from Foothill of Sacramento in the first round to win his second consecutive title at the Lloyd C. Engel Tournament.

"I'm not a conventional wrestler. I'm probably flashier than other people and I like complicated moves," said Congleton, who placed in the top 16 at the CIF State Meet as a junior. "I think it makes difficult to face the first time."

Oliver was just a part of the successful trio of Congleton brothers: Freshman Ford finished second at 119 pounds and sophomore Jake was third at 103. In all, the trio went 8-2 and took home three medals.

Oliver dispatched his final two foes with first-round pins, including his impressive win overt Huddleston. Oliver led the match 5-1 when Huddleston tried to shoot at his legs, exposing himself to a countermove and ending up on his back.

"He was trailing and needed some points, but when he shot at me I was able to stuff his head," explained Oliver, who wrapped one leg around Huddleston's leg and pulled it toward the wrestler's head. "Then I scooped his other leg with my hand and brought that to his head."

By that time, Huddleston looked something like a turtle, his back to the mat and his legs in the air, and Congleton (17-2) had his 14th pin of the season.

Oliver said when he isn't studying for his Advanced Placement statistics class, he can often be found on the mat at his house.

"With the three of us wrestling, we've always got someone to practice with," he said.

Escalon's Christian Franks got the championship started with a 5-1 decision over Juan Gonzalez from East of Bakersfield in a 103-pound showdown between wrestlers ranked among the top five in their respective sections.

The victory led to Franks being named the tournament's outstanding lightweight and overall wrestler. It also was a welcome reversal for Franks, who lost to Gonzalez in last year's final.

"He likes to throw you, so I knew he'd be coming at me with that in mind," said Franks, a sophomore who is now 23-4. "I'm a shooter, going for the legs, because I think my quickness is one of my strengths."

The opposing styles made for an exciting match, with each wrestler forced to guard against a counterattack while launching their own. After a scoreless first round, Franks got a two-point near fall and Gonzalez escaped to make it 2-1.

Franks began in the underneath position to open the third, but escaped for a 3-1 lead. He then scored another takedown for the 5-1 win.

"I used a half nelson and worked his wrist to get the near fall," Franks said. "I was on the side of him, putting a lot of pressure on his back."

Franks was within a match of reaching the State Meet as a freshman, a hurdle he hopes to overcome this season.

"I've been wrestling since I was 5 and I love it," said Franks, who also posted the fastest pin with an 8-second win earlier in the tournament. "You have to love the sport, though, because it's so demanding. You have to watch your weight and stay healthy.

"That means a lot of chicken breasts, chicken wraps are my favorite, and skipping the cookies and chips other kids eat. But it's OK, I'm doing what I love."

Bee staff writer Richard T. Estrada can be reached at restrada@modbee.com or 578-2300.

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