Explosive displays of athleticism by 2013 Oakdale High graduate Hondo Arpoika are like a Karate Kid crane kick.
Like Mr. Miyagi would say, “If do right, no can defend.”
Arpoika gave OHS four years of excellence during his enrollment on campus, branding the mark of a passionate leader who will never be forgotten.
In return, OHS gave Arpoika 14 section titles, a lifetime pass to Mustang sporting events and joined forces with the Oakdale Leader to award him the first ever Career Mustang recognition.
The accolade is an inaugural attempt to follow Athlete of the Year honors with special acknowledgement of Oakdale’s most successful athlete across a four-year span. The selection was done by Oakdale Leader staff, in conjunction with OHS principal Michael Moore and athletic director Dave Bacigalupi.
“(Hondo) was instrumental in the success of our football, wrestling, and baseball teams,” Moore said. “He was a role model for our younger athletes.
“He was a model citizen on our campus.”
And though Arpoika played three sports for four years, he was hardly a politician.
During the football season, the outspoken athlete made noise with a trademark American Flag headband, a boisterous and unkempt beard and a bear-like roar that would send his teammates in frenzy.
Trying to describe the antics of Arpoika in the heart of Oakdale’s tenacious defense is a bit like snapping a photo with a brick — you just can’t picture it.
He was mean, he was resilient and he had a Drive that could put Ryan Gosling out of business.
Frosh-soph designation in football and baseball occupied Arpoika for most of his initial prep season, but he made a triumphant appearance at the varsity level in wrestling to make the most of his freshman year.
With the best teams in the Sac-Joaquin Section gathered for the 2010 Team Dual Championships, Arpoika went 1-1 to aid Oakdale’s rally to a second straight Division IV Title. He won a match 10-8 during a heroic overtime session to aid the honor.
Arpoika would go on to land third at the league tournament, and helped the team rally to another blue banner at the Division IV Individual Championships a week later.
The Valley Oak League welcomed Arpoika to varsity football with great reluctance in 2011. Alongside fellow sophomores Miko Arpoika (his brother), Spencer Thomas, Marcus Northcutt and Bastian Jimenez, Hondo quickly harnessed the skills needed to perform against elite opposition.
He joined the likes of defensive standouts Vince Thompson, Justin Martin, A.C. Brown, and Blake Thompson to outscore opponents 524-271 amidst a 10-4 season that ended with a loss to Del Oro in the SJS title game.
Hondo still played baseball at the JV level, but he delivered a stunning sophomore campaign on the wrestling mat. He won his only match of the rush to a team dual title, was first at league, second at the Division IV tourney which Oakdale won, and played a role in a thrilling SJS Masters title.
A little bigger and wiser, Arpoika landed first team All VOL recognition for football after leading the Mustang defense to the SJS title game for another heartbreaking loss to Del Oro. This one came at the tail-end of a 13-1 season. Arpoika stepped into a huge role on the defense and was a big reason the team outscored opponents 642-212. His tenacity on the defensive line helped force 11 straight opponents to succumb to a running clock.
He won three more section titles in wrestling as a junior, but did his best work to date by rallying to an individual title at 182 pounds at the D-IV individual championships. He would help Oakdale win a banner at that event, and the team dual tournament.
In baseball, Hondo enjoyed his first ever section title on the diamond as Oakdale rallied to an SJS banner. He only played in three games, but his vocal leadership didn’t go unnoticed.
The Class of 2013 has some incredible prestige to take home, and Hondo was a huge part of that. In football, he was a ferocious team captain on the defensive line, led Oakdale to league, section and Northern California Championship titles and played in the Division II State Bowl Game.
His reputation on the gridiron led to an easy selection to First Team All VOL and the Lions Club All Star Football Game, where he landed both Most Inspirational recognition for his leadership in practice and Most Valuable Defensive Player selection for his darling effort on the field. Along with Miko and Jimenez, Hondo led the South to a rare victory over the North.
In wrestling, Arpoika won three more section titles with an individual crown at 195, a D-IV team banner and D-IV team duals championship. He was just short of qualifying for state.
In baseball, he delivered a more active role by hitting .444 during 11 plate appearances during Valley Oak League play. He smashed an inside-the-park grand slam against Weston Ranch during an unlikely at-bat that landed him rare Athlete of the Week recognition during the Spring.
The play unfolded when his shot to center field soared past the glove of a Cougar outfielder and continued rolling as runners pounded the basepaths.
“I just hit the ball and didn’t see where it went,” Arpoika said. “When I got to second I could see my Dad waving me on, then I was at third and he didn’t stop.
“Instinct took over and I just ran. I didn’t feel the tiredness until I crossed home plate, huffing and puffing.”
Hondo was also a vocal leader in the dugout and enjoyed the thrilling celebration at Tony Zupo Field as his father, Hondo Arpoika Sr., captured section blue in his final season.
“You really have to be there and witness it for yourself to know what it’s like to be part of your father’s last section title in his last game,” Hondo Jr. said. “It was just awesome.”
Coach Arpoika enjoyed a unique opportunity to coach both Hondo and Miko through three football seasons and two baseball seasons. He’s going to enjoy retirement and watch attentively as the twins work to make the Fresno State football squad as walk-ons in January.
“I’m so proud of him for being able to win those section titles and have those accomplishments,” coach Arpoika said. “Those are things that will never be able to be taken away from him.
“They are a tribute to his willing to work hard and sacrifice.”
Hondo Jr. said he was looking forward to the challenge in Fresno, but won’t soon forget the experiences he shared with his brother, his father and the hoard of classmates he played beside.
“Sometimes it feels like this whole thing just flew by since my freshmen year,” Arpoika Jr. said. “I’m still going to come back and watch the games and see their success.”