The James Riddle Invitational took in 20 teams and stepped up a notch in competition in its 38th year, but Oakdale, led by two individual champions in junior Logan Eaton and freshman Abel Garcia, kept the title on the home turf.
The host Mustangs had 10 top four finishers overall at the event, staged Saturday, Dec. 14 at Oakdale High.
Eaton defeated Calaveras grappler Jaka Abatta 4-0 in the final with a takedown, tilt and not allowing an escape.
“Felt good wanted to go in there and keep pressure on guys,” Eaton said. “Don’t worry about the score and just the push the pace.”
Eaton stuck his first two with first round pins, before riding out his Dos Palos semifinal opponent 4-2 and shutting out Abatta in the final.
“I went out and dominated the match,” Eaton said, now 34-6 in his last 40 bouts. “My confidence is way higher because I feel like I have a spot and this is my year to show everybody I’m tough and ready to go.”
Oakdale’s other champion, quiet and relentless freshman Abel Garcia, currently competing at his natural weight, stopped two returning state qualifiers to take the title at 160 pounds. Garcia continues to impress, majoring his first two opponents before pulling out a 6-5 semifinal barnburner on a late takedown and a 4-3 championship triumph.
“I knew I wasn’t going to give up the takedown,” Garcia said of his championship match. “I was ready and felt good coming into the tournament, I just try and keep pushing the pace and not let anyone score on my legs.”
Eaton and Garcia weren’t the Mustangs only two bright spots, plenty to build on throughout the young Mustang lineup with upper weights Tanner Reeves, Frankie Trent and Wyatt Hjelm, after a year off from wrestling, all finishing in the second place.
“Hjelm battled his way to the finals and had a real good opening tournament for himself,” Mustang coach Steve Strange said. “For his first tournament of the year after taking last year off, he’s a pretty natural wrestler who’s athletic, aggressive, tall and well-built.”
Reeves lost a one-point battle with state-ranked Justin Barnes of Bret Harte to finish second.
“Tanner is on his way,” Strange said. “I think he continues to work hard he’s going to push for a state medal this year.”
Nico Colunga went 3-1 after being caught on the wrong end of a second period scramble with Jesuit’s Anthony Westley that led to a reversal and near-fall, ultimately sealing the first defeat on the season for the Mustangs only returning state medalist.
“Nico controlled the tempo of the match and I told him the same thing I told the rest of the team,” Strange said of the Mustangs junior captain. “It’s a long season so let’s keep working, getting better, getting stronger and building momentum.”
Oakdale heads to the Morningstar Invitational on Dec. 20 before a formidable late December and January stretch of the Sierra Nevada Classic, Doc Buchanan, Temecula Valley and Tim Brown Invitational tournaments.
The Williams brothers, Cody and Trevor, finished in second place at 106 and 120 respectively; freshman Cody falling in the semi’s to a more mature Dos Palos opponent and the sophomore Trevor noted by the coaching staff for putting in another strong outing before losing to Devan Turner of Dixon High, who just came off a win at California World Challenge.
Joey and Justin Jacobson had solid showings, each taking care of early-round opponents and placing fourth at 138 pounds and 145 pounds respectively. Junior Frankie Trent, recently named First Team All-Valley Oak League as an offensive lineman for his exploits on the football field this fall, defeated a state qualifier from Sutter in a hard-fought semifinal bout before losing in the finals to the eventual champion from Dixon.
“Frankie kept his usual high intensity,” Strange said. “He kept a high-pace, stayed in his face and took control of the match.”
OAKDALE YOUTH WRESTLING: Over 400 youth wrestlers from age 5 to 15 and from powerhouse Clovis, Calvary Chapel, Gilroy, Roseville, Fresno, De La Salle, Reno and all over California descended upon the Oakdale gym the day after the Riddle Tournament.
The Oakdale youth wrestling program, led by champions Cesar Garza and Colby Harlan, had 15 individual champions out of 87 tournament participants from the Oakdale Wrestling Club on Sunday, Dec. 15. Made up of wrestlers from Oakdale Junior High and all four Oakdale elementary schools, they competed against the best from across northern and central California.
“The youth program continues to grow and compete with the top kids from around the state,” coach Strange said. “The junior high school level has had the most improvement over the last year which is vital for our program’s overall success.”
From the 13-15 age group, champions Harlan, Rick Torres, Nathan Powers, CJ Toledo, Beau Osmundson and Nico Sarale competed for the Oakdale youth program. In the 11-12 age group, Dakota Triebel was first and in the 9-10 age group Titan Ginger, Lilly Freitas and Garza finished in first place. At the 7-8 year old division Anthony Martinez, Brock Osmundson and Michael Freitas won their respective weights. In the 5-6 age group Cody Soares was first in his weight bracket.