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Eighth Straight Blue Banner For OHS Grapplers
blue banner
Some traditions never fade, and for the OHS varsity wrestlers, it has become a tradition to hold up the prestigious CIF Section Championship banner. This season was no different as the team claimed its eighth consecutive blue banner after being crowned D3 Section Champs on Saturday, Feb. 7. DENNIS D. CRUZ/THE LEADER

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 on Saturday.

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.

Oakdale earned a first round bye, and came out well rested for their first match, taking it to Casa Roble 51-8. With about an hour to rest, the boys watched league foe Central Catholic take on Vista del Lago and battle it out. The winner of these two teams would face Oakdale in the final. Just two weeks ago, Oakdale and Central Catholic battled it out at OHS for the Valley Oak League (VOL) title in which Oakdale won its ninth consecutive VOL title. However, the Eagles of Vista del Lago pulled off the upset over the Raiders and earned the spot in the finals against the Mustangs.

The Mustangs won the first two matches in the finals via points. It was Abel Garcia (172) who earned the team’s first pin as he made quick work of his opponent in less than 40 seconds. As the team has throughout the year, the momentum became contagious and the grapplers ran through Vista del Lago with a clean sweep, earning a dominant 72-0 win. Nine of the 14 matches were won via pin. The Mustangs were the only team on the day to amass over 68 points.

Oakdale earned a total of 24 wins on the day, 19 via pin. Earning pins in the finals were Abel Garcia, Miguel Ibarra (197), Wyatt Hjelm (222), Matt Kjeldgaard (287), Jake Abeyta (115), Logan Eaton (122), Nico Colunga (128), Trevor Williams (134) and Colby Harlan (147).

“The mentality is to go out there and win. Make quick work of your opponent and get the fall. We go hard every single day, practice or in a meet, we want to win, that’s our motivation, and that’s what earned us that blue banner,” shared Trevor Williams with excitement following the Section pennant presentation ceremony.

For seven OHS wrestling seniors, this was their fourth banner, completing a rare high school sweep as section championships.

“It’s a lot of hard work, the difference between this one and the other three that I have been a part of is that I play a bigger role as a senior,” noted Max Stevens, who pinned his first opponent in the first period and won his second match 9-4. “Coaches have done a great job prepping us over the years and have made me a better wrestler.”

Oakdale now turns its attention to the annual VOL dual meet on Saturday, Feb 14 at Sierra High School in Manteca.