With 2015 in the books, let’s take a few moments to reflect on the sporting events and stories from the first half of the year that was. From the 64th annual PRCA Oakdale Rodeo, to hard hitting MMA action, to the loss of an Oakdale football legend, to Oakdale Mustangs achievements, the first half of 2015 was an exciting time for our sports community.
The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) held its biannual Hall of Fame class induction in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Among the seven honorees to be inducted this year was Oakdale’s own Guy Fowler. Fowler has been a part of the AAU for over 25 years and is a teacher and coach for Oakdale High School.
Wyatt Hansen is a sophomore at Oakdale Charter High School. He is a normal teenager who attends classes, has homework and daily chores. What separates Hansen from other high school kids his age is that he is already an established rodeo star. Hansen competes in calf roping and team roping. Hansen began competing in high school rodeo in 2013, his freshman year, and was highly successful. His sophomore season took off to new heights when he reached the 2014 PRCA National Finals in Las Vegas, Nevada this past December. Hansen competed in several local high school events and even traveled out of state to compete in the sport which he loves.
After a lackluster performance on Tuesday, Jan. 13 against visiting Weston Ranch, the Oakdale varsity basketball boys saddled up and put on their best performance of the young season. Coming off the embarrassing 68-23 home loss against Weston Ranch, Oakdale gathered its first Valley Oak League win of the campaign with a 66-55 home win over East Union on Thursday, Jan. 15.
If the term “Dynasty” can be used after three titles, should we consider the Oakdale High School Mustangs varsity wrestling team a “Tri-Dynasty”? Wednesday night Jan. 28 the Mustangs hosted undefeated Central Catholic in a clash of unbeatens to decide the 2015 Valley Oak League championship. The Mustangs overcame a slow start to the evening to run wild on the Raiders to win 51-15 to claim their ninth consecutive VOL championship.
On National Signing Day, several Oakdale High School student athletes made their most important decision to date: what school will they attend after graduation. Four student athletes made those choices and will continue their athletic as well as academic endeavors at the next level: Wyatt Hjelm, Nico Colunga, Ashley Arnett and Sydney Sudaria. Hjelm, who is active in both football and wrestling, signed with Sacramento State on a football scholarship. Colunga, a national champion on the wrestling mats, has decided to take his talents to North Dakota State. Arnett signed with University of the Pacific to play with their soccer program. Arnett selected UOP based on location and to help further her education. Sudaria has signed with Notre Dame De Namur and will be a part of their soccer program this fall.
On a night where the OHS varsity girls basketball team honored its two seniors, the squad held off visiting Central Catholic for a 30-26 victory. The evening began with seniors Caylie O’Neal and Anna Perrone being honored prior to tipoff at center court by friends, family members, coaches and teammates.
Dominating from the start, the Oakdale Mustangs varsity wrestling team claimed its eighth straight, and nine of the last 10, CIF Division III Section Championships. The Mustangs were by far the elite team in the division, claiming the top spot in the competition at Lincoln High School in Stockton on Feb. 7. For seven OHS wrestling seniors, this was their fourth banner, completing a rare high school sweep as section championships.
Feb. 27 and 28 was a pivotal stop for high school wrestlers on their journey to reach the California State Championship. Stockton Arena was host site for the two day wrestle fest, known as the 2015 CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Meet. The Oakdale Mustangs sent 13 grapplers, and seven of them qualified for the State Meet in Bakersfield, all placing in the top six needed for advancement and moving on to battle for a state championship. Out of the 13 Mustangs at Masters, Logan Eaton (113 pounds), Nico Colunga, Trevor Williams, Max Stevens, Colby Harlan, Abel Garcia, and Frankie Trent, all punched their tickets for a shot at a state championship.
Colunga, who made his fourth state meet appearance, earned a third place finish in the 120 pound bracket, bringing home some State Meet hardware. Colunga finished the weekend with a 5-1 record to earn a third place medal.
March 12 saw the Oakdale High School’s track and field team host its first Valley Oak League meet of the 2015 season. The Mustangs welcomed Kimball to town, where Oakdale’s varsity girls won their 73rd consecutive VOL meet, 86-50. After trailing 45-37 to the visitors after the track events, it was the field girls who came through to help Oakdale nail down the victory. Leaders on the day for the varsity Lady Mustangs were senior Anna Perrone, taking first place in the 3200 meter race; and sophomore Sara Stevens, who enjoyed a triple crown day. She took first place in a trio of events, the 400 meter race, long jump competition and was a part of the 4x400 relay along with teammates freshman Abby Matoso, sophomore Kyla Novotny and senior Kiyauna East.
The varsity Oakdale Mustangs baseball team opened the 2015 Valley Oak League season playing a home and home stand with the Manteca Buffaloes this past week. On Wednesday, March 18 the boys escaped with a wild 21-15 road win. Down 9-3 after three innings, Oakdale exploded with nine runs in the top half of the fourth and never looked back. Nolen Legan powered the Mustangs with his four hit, five RBI day. The Mustangs outscored the Buffaloes 18-6 in the final four innings of play.
Saturday, March 21 marked the 2015 Oakdale Baseball Association (OBA) opening day. With over 550 boys and girls who signed up to play youth baseball this season for them, and well over 3,000 people enjoying the weather and the games, youth baseball made its way back to Oakdale. After the National Anthem was performed by Oakdale High School student Stephanie Ortiz, Mayor Pat Paul and special guest Jeff Steves threw out the ceremonial first pitches, the kids and coaches from each team were introduced.
Another impressive performance from all four levels of the swimming team as the varsity boys, varsity girls, junior varsity boys and junior varsity girls swept Manteca in Manteca on Friday, March 27. Spencer Lee helped the boys claim a 94-76 victory as he took first place in the 200 meter freestyle and also contributed to the team’s first place showing in the 200 meter freestyle relay. Summer Thompson, Emily Bennett and Shelby Stender all were heavy contributors in the varsity girls’ 106-64 victory. Thompson took first in the 200 IM, while Stender claimed victory in the 100 meter butterfly heat. Bennett earned first for her performance in the 100 meter backstroke heat.
Oakdale’s varsity soccer girls powered their way to a pair of Valley Oak League wins with a 13-0 throttling of Lathrop on Monday, March 23 and edging out Sierra 5-3 on Wednesday, March 25. In the team’s home win over Lathrop, Oakdale fired on all cylinders having four players score goals for the Lady Mustangs. Freshman midfielder Talia Millard scored five goals in the win. Also chipping in for the Lady Mustangs were seniors Ashley Arnett with four goals and two assists and Denise Thompson added a goal and an assist of her own. Junior Madison Feuerstein contributed with a hat trick and an assist as well.
Members of the football community – and residents of the Central Valley – were saddened by the news of former National Football League quarterback Eddie LeBaron passing away at the age of 85 on Wednesday, April 1 at his home in Stockton. LeBaron, born Jan. 7, 1930 in San Rafael, played football for both the NFL and Canadian Football League (CFL) during his professional career. He was inducted into several Halls of Fame, including the College Football Hall of Fame in 1980, Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2004, and was a charter member of the Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame in October of 2010.
The Lady Mustangs varsity softball team claimed its fifth consecutive victory after blanking Lathrop 15-0 on the road on Tuesday, March 31 and came away with an 11-4 home win over visiting Sierra on Thursday, April 2. In the team’s road win, the team scored three runs in the first, and hung seven up on the scoreboard in the third. At home, the girls took on Sierra, which entered the game with the same record as the Lady Mustangs (4-1). Maddi and Kindra Hackbarth combined for a perfect 8-for-8 and six RBI in the game.
Thousands of fans packed the Oakdale Saddle Club rodeo grounds for the toughest two days in sports, April 11 and 12, for the 64th annual Oakdale PRCA Rodeo. Arguably the most popular weekend in the Cowboy Capital of the World for both locals and rodeo enthusiasts nationwide, the event provided entertainment for all ages. Claiming the rodeo’s top honor – All-Around Cowboy – was Rhen Richard, who was also in the money for the Team Roping. He and partner Cole Davison of Stephenville, Texas picked up $866 apiece for their sixth place showing with a 17.5 aggregate score in the team event.
Oakdale High School senior Shelby Stender received a top scholarship award through the California Interscholastic Federation, one of two honorees selected for the Clark Coover Scholarship. Presented at a recent breakfast meeting on April 21 the award is named in honor of former Section Commissioner Clarke Coover.
The 2014 CIF Sac-Joaquin Section football champion Oakdale Mustangs received their long awaited championship rings on May 1. Friends, family and fans gathered at the Corral where “The Voice of the Mustangs” Pete Simoncini once again lent his voice to emcee the ceremony. Head coach Trent Merzon handed out the rings to his coaching staff and to all 53 players.
Oakdale High School’s junior varsity baseball team earned the Valley Oak League title after winning eight straight games to finish the season at 18-7 overall and 12-2 in league play.
Home field advantage proved sweet for Oakdale, as the varsity soccer team notched a pair of playoff victories in front of a supportive home crowd this past week. The Lady Mustangs soccer program entered the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs as the number four seed. With wins of 6-1 and 5-1 to start off, Oakdale has made a playoff push to the semifinals.
May 5 saw the varsity girls track and field team claim their 79th consecutive dual meet, and their 11th consecutive VOL title.
Seven Mustangs were presented with prestigious awards at the 2015 Senior Honors Assembly hosted at Oakdale High School on Monday, May 11. The Norm Antinetti Award is given to one athlete who showcases their sports ability year-round for the Mustangs. This year Miguel Ibarra took home that award. Mustang of the Year honors were handed out to Shelby Stender and Frankie Trent. Senior Athlete of the Year award winners were Megan Reali and Nicolas Colunga. Scholar Athlete of the Year honorees were Jennifer Guzman and Jonathon Carmelich.
For the varsity baseball team, home field advantage was not enough to hold off Yuba City as the 11th seeded Honkers came to town and knocked off the Mustangs 10-5, to eliminate the Oakdale varsity baseball team from the 2015 CIF Sac-Joaquin Division III playoffs. Oakdale, the sixth seed, found themselves in a hole early, giving up five runs on five hits and committing two errors in the top of the first inning on Monday, May 1.
Oakdale Lady Mustangs soccer faced off against a familiar foe in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoff semifinals when the fourth seeded Lady Mustangs took on the top seeded East Union Lady Lancers. Like everyone else in the Valley Oak League, Oakdale fell to East Union twice during the regular season, and the playoff outcome was no different as Oakdale lost a tough contest, 3-1 on Wednesday, May 13 at East Union, ending the season for the Lady Mustangs.
Sports fans, student athletes, friends, family and members of the media made their way to the Sportsmen of Stanislaus Club (SOS) in Modesto for the 48th annual Outstanding Athlete Awards banquet. OHS senior aquatics standout Shelby Stender and track and field phenom Hannah Chappell, were nominated for the 2014-15 Women’s High School Prep Division Athlete of the Year. The girls were up against tough competition as three other local standouts were also nominated for the prestigious award. Also being honored was longtime former OHS coach and athletic director Norm Antinetti, who received the Darell Phillips Award.
The hopes of repeating as CIF Section softball champions came to a screeching halt when the Oakdale Lady Mustangs fell to Cordova on Tuesday night, May 12. Oakdale came out on the short end of a 6-1 score at the Sacramento Softball Complex in Sacramento. Oakdale entered the CIF Sac Joaquin Section Division III tournament as the five seed and was named the home team in their first round match up against the 12th seeded Cordova squad. Last season the team won the Division IV title.
Oakdale junior Hannah Chappell claimed a fifth place medal at the state track and field championships. She was a Masters champion in the discus and moved on to the state level for the third consecutive time. There, she had a throw of 141-2 in the qualifying round, and she followed that up with a throw of 148-3 in the finals on Saturday, June 6. She finished fifth in the state with the distance.
Eddie Machado, a 2013 Oakdale High School graduate, signed his letter of intent to attend New Mexico State University to play baseball. The left-handed pitcher will be playing for the Aggies in Albuquerque next fall at the Division I school.
On Saturday, June 13 players from several schools suited up for the 42nd annual Central California Lion’s All-Star football game. The annual gridiron classic was held at Tracy High School’s Wayne Schneider Stadium, where the South knocked off the North 51-38. Representing the South were five Oakdale Mustangs: Jon Carmelich, Wyatt Hjelm, Tyler Flores, Christian Johnson and Frankie Trent, who all contributed to the team’s exciting, come-from-behind win.
Two of Oakdale’s youth softball players are preparing to make a trip to Orlando, Florida to play in the inaugural ESPN Wide World of Sports All American Games July 13 through July 16. Oakdale youngsters Delainey Everett and Kylie Valente were named as members of the Northwest Regional Under Ten team after a tryout in Woodland, California back in February. Everett and Valente began playing softball in Oakdale’s Oak Valley Youth Softball Association (OVYSA) and now are teammates on the travel team Lodi Grapettes.
Next week, a look at the top sports stories from July through December.