After the dust settled at Stockton Arena on Saturday evening, Feb. 24, nine Oakdale wrestlers stood on the podium. Out of the nine, an Oakdale High School record eight athletes are advancing to the 2018 CIF State Championship in Bakersfield.
The top eight wrestlers in each weight class at the Masters Meet earn medals, the top six advance to the state level.
Freshman Brayden Abell (106), freshman Clayton Bashor (113), freshman Henry Porter (120), junior Ricky Torres (138), senior Jake Ryan (145), junior Gabe Martinez (170), junior Cody Golding (182) and senior Colbey Harlan (195) all placed sixth or higher in their quest for a state championship. Freshman Seth Borba (132) finished the tournament in seventh place, just missing the cut. Oakdale crowned three Masters Champions on the evening as Ryan, Martinez and Harlan all stood tall above the rest on the podium.
Abell finished the two day tournament with a 5-2 record and placed fifth overall. The talented freshman defeated Joseph Pia of El Capitan and continued his run with a victory over Andrew Huynh of Ripon. Abell’s championship run came to an end when he lost to Evan Ivaldi of Del Oro. Ivaldi would go on to finish second. In the consolation round Abell earned three more victories before falling to William Giron of Turlock.
“My dream was to go to state, and to qualify is an amazing feeling. I just want to go to Bakersfield and prove that I belong,” said Abell.
Confidence was not an issue for Clayton Bashor. The brash freshman won his first two matches via fall before losing to TJ Ruiz of Vacaville in the second period. In the consolation bracket Bashor went on to win two more matches, and then lost to Eli Blacwell of Tracy 6-4. In the battle for fifth and sixth place Bashor tangled with Ruiz for the second time in the tournament and lost 5-0 to place sixth.
“I’ve been training for this moment for a long time and I am not ready to just settle for state qualifying. I expect to win,” Bashor said.
The third freshman to qualify from Oakdale was Henry Porter. He began his quest for state by winning in dominant fashion, winning 17-0 to start the tournament. He later rattled off two straight pins to advance to the semi-finals. There, he defeated Elk Grove’s Spencer Francesconi by major decision 9-0 to advance to the finals. In the finals he met sophomore Brenden Johnson of Del Oro, where Porter lost 7-3.
“This was a successful weekend. It takes a lot of sacrifice to advance to state. I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t win Masters but I will improve for state next week,” Porter said.
Ricky Torres has qualified to state for the third time in as many years. Torres entered the tournament ranked seventh in the state in his weight class and proved worthy of his ranking. He blitzed through the competition as he won his first three matches with little difficulty. In the semi-finals he met Michael Mello of Oak Ridge and won 7-4 to reach the finals. In the finals Torres wrestled Vacaville’s Larence Saenz. The two battled through two scoreless periods and Lawrence outscored Torres 3-0 in the final period, the Mustang grappler settling for second place honors.
“I’m hoping my third trip to state results in a first place finish,” Torres said. “This is my third time and I want to become a state champion.”
Also coming home a champion was senior Jake Ryan. After he graduates from Oakdale he will be attending Cal Poly in the fall, but still has work to do as a high school student athlete. Ryan won his first three matches via fall. In the semi-finals he defeated Kendall LaRosa of Pitman 5-0 to advance to state. In the finals match Ryan battled Jackson Redhair of Oak Ridge. Entering the third period Ryan led 2-1 before turning up his intensity level and outscored Redhair 7-1 in the final period for a 9-2 win to become the 145-pound champion.
“Last year I did not get a chance to battle in the finals, so this was special for me,” Ryan said.
He is currently ranked third in the state.
Gabe Martinez left Stockton Arena as the 170-pound champion following his impressive Masters run. Martinez earned his Masters championship with fast footwork and will. He won his first four matches and in the finals he defeated Hunter Gonzalez of Rocklin 5-2.
“It’s going to take a lot of hard work this week, and training to be successful at state. I would be happy with a top five finish in Bakersfield but the goal is to win,” Martinez said.
Junior Cody Golding placed fifth overall and clinched his spot at state. He advanced to the semi-finals but lost there to Breck Jeffus of Turlock 4-2 in overtime. Jeffus went on to take first place. In the consolation bracket Golding went 1-1.
“I really wanted to make an impact this weekend,” Golding said. “This was my first appearance in Masters and I am very excited to be a state qualifier.”
Ranked number one in the state, senior Colbey Harlan, who is 41-0 on the year, won every one of his matches via fall. The Stanford-bound grappler is returning to state with one goal in mind: becoming a state champion.
“I came here this weekend to show that I am the number one guy for a reason. I knew I had to dominate and that’s what happened,” said Harlan.
He won three of his matches via pin in the first period and defeated Oak Ridge’s Albert Biocca in the first minute of the second period.
“I look back in years past and I know that I can leave Bakersfield as a champion. Last year I lost in the finals but this is my year, I believe in my abilities to seal the deal,” Harlan said.
As a team Oakdale finished in second place scoring 199 points, behind only Vacaville, with 215.
“We work hard as a team and it would have been special for us to go out here and win Masters as a team. This team is a family,” said Torres.