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Mustangs Shine In Their Own Backyard
1-16 OAK Wrest1
Karell Estell of Oakdale whips Alex Garcia of Lathrop to his back for an exciting pin on Jan. 9. - photo by IKE DODSON/THE LEADER

Between a dominant home showing in the first Valley Oak League tri-meet and 13 medals at the ultra-tough Lloyd C. Engel tournament in Escalon, the recent success of Oakdale High’s varsity wrestling team has been on emphatic display on local mats.

Host Oakdale punished Lathrop 72-6 and Manteca 67-6 on Jan. 9, leaving no doubt to the existence of a program prestige extended by four consecutive Sac-Joaquin Division IV Team Dual titles (2009-2012).

Both Lathrop coach Vincent Garcia and Manteca coach John Vazquez consider that type of success worthy of the moniker ‘powerhouse.’

“When you wrestle a powerhouse like that it’s hard to show up at all,” Garcia said afterwards. “We are trying to put together what we can. All in all I think we did pretty good, but it’s just tough to wrestle Oakdale.”

The Mustangs sat out their top-three state-ranked grapplers (Nico Colunga, Ronnie Stevens and Tyler Noon), but surrendered just a forfeit to Lathrop and allowed only one Manteca wrestler a conquest over a scarlet and gold singlet.

Oakdale’s Max Stevens and Jake Jacobson both landed two pins within the first minute of their match. Karell Estell captured a thrilling come-from-behind pin over Lathrop talent Alex Garcia while Joey Jacobson won both of his matches. Eric Amador, Tyler Malone, Frankie Trent, Miguel Ibarra, Hondo Arpoika, Zack Fallentine, Bailey Dryden and Trevor Williams were also undefeated. Justin Jacobson, Jalem Moone, Nate Higle, Gabe Higuera, Hunter Burford and Eric Ruiz won JV matches for Oakdale.

“Everybody talks about Oakdale being a powerhouse, but our kids were not afraid of them,” Vazquez said. “It’s hard to beat a powerhouse, but I think our kids did well.”

Two days after battering Lathrop and Manteca, Oakdale tackled a stiff field of opposition at an Engel tournament that is quickly growing in prestige to earn recognition as one of the toughest tournaments in the Sac-Joaquin Section.

The tournament featured six teams ranked in the top-10 among SJS programs by The California Wrestling Newsletter and a host of returning state placers/qualifiers.

The opposition didn’t keep Oakdale from sneaking 12 wrestlers through Friday’s pool-play into the ‘A’ bracket of the tournament on Saturday. When the action stopped, Oakdale’s Colunga (115-pound bracket) and Fallentine (220) both emerged as champions of their bracket. Oakdale also sent brothers Max and Ronnie Stevens to the 126-pound finale, but they double-forfeited to avoid an all-Oakdale title match.

Elsewhere in the ‘A’ bracket was Eaton (second, 106), Williams (third, 120), Jake Jacobson (third, 138), Noon (second, 152), Malone (did not place in a tough field at 160), Trent (fifth, 182), Arpoika (third, 195) and Eric Barragan (fourth, 285).

Dryden won the ‘B’ bracket at 182 pounds while Karell Estell was third at 115.

“This year that was a real tough tournament,” Oakdale coach Brian Stevens said. “You had Ponderosa, Elk Grove, Bella Vista, Folsom, Escalon and Modesto all with their first team guys and it made it hard to place.

“Some weights were just loaded.”

Oakdale is at Sierra for a tri-meet with the Timberwolves and Kimball today, Jan. 16. The Mustangs will tackle the Temecula Valley Invitational and Gregori Tournament on Saturday.