Another Sierra Nevada Classic, another title for Oakdale junior Nico Colunga.
After two third place finishes at the season opening Riddle and Morningstar Invitational left him bitter and on the hunt against the considerably tougher Reno bracket, he burned through the tourney for six wins, three by technical fall to score 31.5 out of Oakdale’s 156.5 team points, including a solid 4-1 championship victory over Sac-Joaquin Section standout Jansen Engelbrecht of Del Oro where the Mustangs captain kept his feet moving the whole match and was never out of position.
“Feel good about the win,” Colunga said. “But have to keep improving because it doesn’t get any easier from here.”
In Reno, the Mustangs continued to march deeper into two day tournaments putting seven wrestlers in the quarterfinals, five in the semi’s and taking home six medals total to finish fourth overall at the Sierra Nevada Classic. Oakdale, which finished ahead of standout Nevada wrestling programs Lowry, Reno, and Carson in the top ten team race, Oregon powers Henley and Grants Pass and just ahead of New Mexico’s Piedra Vista H.S., came in behind Sac-Joaquin perennial powers Del Oro and Folsom and champion Eagles of Clovis West.
Oakdale junior Logan Eaton, with two tournaments titles on the year left a possible third on the table when, after two pins and two 7-0 wins had Eaton in the semi-finals of 113 pound bracket against defending Oregon state champion Casey Coulter of Grants Pass, Oregon, didn’t push the pace and failed to capitalize on late scoring opportunities and scrambles eventually leaving the mat with more fire than he entered it after a 2-0 what-if loss. Eaton came back strong and took control of his third place match with a reversal in the second period and third to win 7-5 over Wes Rayburn of Piedra Vista, New Mexico to place third a year after finishing fourth in the same bracket as Colunga in 2012 and add 22 team points to the Mustangs finish.
Sophomore Trevor Williams took fourth at 126 pounds and chipped in 24 team points by pinning four straight opponents from Gregori, Palma, McQueen and Carson high schools, before running into the buzzsaw in form of Clovis West’s undefeated Michael Knoblauch, fifth in state last year and one of the top returners of one of California’s best teams, who soundly defeated Williams on his way to the title. Williams then defeated Noah Blakeley of Servite, before losing 10-8 at the last second to Lassen’s Kenny Jones on the last medal mat running and the remaining crowd at Livestock Convention Center watching.
At 152 pounds, Abel Garcia took care of opponents from Escalon, Hamilton, Lebanon of Oregon and Caldwell, Idaho before stuck by Folsom’s Lorenzo Del La Riva in the semi-finals in the leg riding position that he didn’t know how to get out of. Garcia then won in business-like fashion over Ryan Rino of Piedra Vista before being quick-pinned by Romello Monjaras of College Park about a clear half-second after the scoreclock ran out in the two minute first round. Despite the loss to a formidable opponent from Folsom and subsequent pin in consolation finals, Garcia had one of strongest performances by a freshman in the entire Sierra Nevada Classic field.
Frankie Trent, while still finding his offense, will surely have more confidence after a gritty second-day consolation bracket performance on the cold mats of the Reno Livestock Convention Center, where the rising junior battled back after being pinned by Johnny Beltran of Servite in the semifinals, by staying in his opponents face and avoiding bad positions for the majority of his matches, eventually breaking Colton Sallee of Lebanon 8-3, Dylan Kainrath of Del Oro 4-0, before edging out Brady Rivera of Carson, NV in the fifth place mat 4-3.
At 170 pounds, Tanner Reeves placed third and scored 23 team points by pinning Erik Stockwell of Reed, NV, Micheal Vasquez of Servite, majoring Mason Meyer of North Valleys, NV, decisioning Terry Mason of hometown Reno High School 4-3 in a gutsy quarterfinal performance, before finishing the tournament with another one point win over Derek Carl of Gold Beach, OR.
Also contributing for the Mustangs were sophomore Justin Jacobson who finished 3-2 and pinned three opponents for the second straight week before falling in the consolation rounds, putting away Lincoln’s Tre’Rell Stubbs, Leon Fabian of Livermore and Jessi Daniels of Phoenix, Oregon by fall. At 145 pounds, Joey Jacobsen went 2-2 on the tournament, pinned Alexander Honeycutt of Carson 1:37 into the first round before outpointing Alex Rajewski of Calaveras 3-1.
At 106 pounds freshman Cody Williams, 13-5 on the season, won 3-1 over Calaveras freshman Jacob Abeyta before pinning Dustin Chartrand of Anacotes, Washington and defeating Izaak Grubbs of Marshfield, Oregon 7-0. Williams was handled by eventual champion and state-ranked Isaac Blackburn of Del Oro-falling by second round pin in the quarterfinals before defeating Henry Cox of North Medford, Oregon by technical fall. Middleweight Eric Amador defeated Garland Bellicini of Terra Linda 8-6 before dropping his next two matches; Christian Johnson, Miguel Ibarra, Gabe Higuera and Hunter Burford also made the trip and competed in Reno.
Oakdale is next headed to Doc Buchanan Invitational, held at the defending state champion Clovis High School on Jan. 3 and 4 and viewed as a state tournament preview and one of the nation’s toughest, drawing from top prep wrestling programs in all ten CIF sections of California in addition to standout teams from the west coast and Pennsylvania. From there the Mustangs travel to the Battle 4 the Belt with a deep Southern California field held at Temecula Valley High School on Jan. 17 and 18 followed by the Tim Brown Invitational in Sacramento on Jan. 24 and 25, another two competitions that will be a strong indicator of what kind of team Oakdale will be bringing to the post-season come March.
So far: young but good.
With a chance to be really good at the later stages of the season if performances in the consolation rounds at the Classic are any indicator.