You could sew the collection of Sac-Joaquin Section banners obtained by Oakdale High’s wrestling program into a king-sized quilt.
The grappling Mustangs account for 14 of the 35 total section banners in school history, and nabbed their latest with consecutive wins at the SJS Team Dual Championships on Saturday at Lincoln High.
The Mustangs dropped Consumnes Oaks 64-4 in the semifinals, then bested Los Banos 52-13 in a hard-fought finale.
The wins awarded Oakdale its record fifth-straight D-IV banner, sixth in seven seasons and a precursor to a potential 13th section title since the 2006-07 season when they take on the D-IV Individual Championships on Feb. 15 and 16.
Only Vacaville (14 Masters Championships, 19 team dual titles) and Ponderosa (nine Masters Championships, nine team dual titles) have shown similar dominance at the section level.
“Every year Oakdale has one or two wrestlers contending for state medals and state titles, and for the last five to six years it has been not only individuals, but good teams as well,” SJS Director of Communications Will DeBoard said on Monday. “They are definitely turning into one of our stronger wrestling programs.”
Los Banos fell victim to Oakdale in the 2011 team duals finale, and couldn’t get past the Mustangs this year after Oakdale won nine consecutive matches to overcome a 13-12 Los Banos lead after five matches.
“Los Banos was real tough and they fought hard,” Oakdale coach Brian Stevens said. “It was a battle.”
The Tigers made it a match early when Oakdale wrestlers who bumped up weight classes found struggles at a heavier division of competition. It happened to 113-pound freshman Tyler Williams, who led Los Banos senior Riko Quintana into the third round, but was ultimately whipped to his back and pinned in the first match of the dual.
Two matches later, 126-pound Oakdale sophomore standout Max Stevens suffered similar dismay when senior Jimmy Felix landed an overtime takedown to win their bout 9-7. When Mustang freshman Eric Amador gave up a major decision to Tigers senior, Noah Comacho, Oakdale found itself trailing by a point a third of the way through the meet.
“I think that kind of got the rest of them ready,” coach Stevens said. “I still feel like we should have won those close matches, but Los Banos wrestled tough.”
Senior Tyler Noon put Oakdale ahead with his pin in the first minute at 152 pounds, and set the table for a thrilling contest between seniors Tyler Malone (Oakdale) and Marcus Carrillo.
Carillo led by two points in the final moments, but found himself trailing in the last 15 seconds when Malone escaped and nabbed a sudden reversal. Oakdale coaches and teammates went into a bewildered frenzy when Malone erroneously stood up to allow the match-tying escape in the final seconds, but became elated when Malone scrambled for a takedown in the last second of the match for a 6-4 win.
“I didn’t know he gave me the (one-point escape), then I thought coaches were giving me the wave like I needed to cut him (loose),” Malone explained afterwards. “I wasn’t worried about going into overtime, but I had the opportunity to take care of it then.”
Malone was at 160 for team duals, but will drop back to 152 for remainder of the postseason. It’s a stunning weight class for a starting offensive lineman (center) from Oakdale’s state-bowl runner-up team.
“I may be the only center at 152,” Malone admitted with a laugh. “It’s kind of funny because the momentum from football just carried into wrestling.
“I’m absolutely committed and will do everything I can to get to state.”
Malone and classmate Hondo Arpoika have won matches in all four of Oakdale’s team dual titles since 2010. Each won two matches Saturday while Noon, Ronnie Stevens, Jake Jacobson, Zack Fallentine, Eric Barragan and Logan Eaton were also 2-0. Williams, Max Stevens and Amador were 1-1 while Nico Colunga, Karrell Estell, Miguel Ibarra, Frankie Trent and Bailey Dryden were victorious in their lone appearance.
Oakdale will tackle all 14 weights at the Valley Oak League Championships at Kimball of Tracy on Saturday, Feb. 9. The top four finishers in each weight will earn a trip to the SJS D-IV individual tournament on Feb. 15 and 16.