Eighty-one high school wrestling teams from across the western states converged on the 64-man brackets of the prestigious two-day Sierra Nevada Classic in Reno on Dec. 27 and 28.
For Oakdale High grapplers present, it was a resounding success.
The Mustangs landed eight medals, a bracket championship and runner-up honor in the team standings behind returning 4A state-runner up Henley of Klamath Falls, Oregon.
Oakdale tied Pasa Robles with 155 points, but ended 21 points shy of a Henley team that returns most of their top wrestlers from last year’s Oregon state championships. The Mustangs were ahead of Sac-Joaquin Section powers Folsom (fourth) and Del Oro (ninth).
The action represented the first contact for many OHS wrestlers who recently joined the team from an appearance in the California Interscholastic Federation Football State Championship Bowl Game.
“It was a good tournament,” Oakdale coach Brian Stevens said. “I still don’t think we have our best lineup, but we have got a really good team.”
The lone tourney title went to 106-pound Nico Colunga, who pinned his first three opponents, bested No. 7 seed Carlos Alvarez of Folsom 5-3 and captured a 9-0 win over OHS teammate Logan Eaton in the semifinals. In the finale, he won 4-0 over Austin Mitchell of Medford. Eaton went on to topple Kameron Marones of Paso Robles to reach the third place match, where he was ultimately defeated 6-0 by No. 4 seed Isaac Blackburn of Del Oro.
Juan Garza entered the 113-pound bracket as a No. 3 seed, but dropped consecutive close matches to tourney champ Tyler Scott of Henley (a 3-2 defeat) and longtime rival Gabe Balderas of Ceres (a 5-4 loss) to settle for fifth. The 113-pound bracket was one of the toughest in the tournament.
Ronnie Stevens started 120-pound action as the No. 9 seed, but won his way to a quarterfinal showdown with No. 1 seed and tournament champ Ronnie Bresser of Henley. Henley’s 9-6 win over Stevens was his closest match of the tournament, as he would pin his semifinal opponent in 19 seconds and his finals adversary in three minutes. Stevens went on to win three straight matches in the consolation bracket before a 1-0 loss in the bronze medal match forced him to settle for fourth.
Max Stevens was the No. 12 seed at 132, but battled to a 4-3 loss to tourney runner-up Wyatt Wyckoff of Paradise in the championship bracket. He went 1-1 in the consolation bracket to finish 3-2 in his first action since joining the program from football.
Unseeded Jake Jacobson upset the No. 5 seed with a 6-5 win at 138 pounds, but ultimately settled for a 2-2 run through the tournament. Freshman Eric Amador landed a surprising 3-2 run through the bracket at 145 pounds.
Tyler Noon entered his 152-pound bracket as the No. 4 seed, but fell only to No. 1 seed and tournament champion Kevan Garcia. Noon was 6-1 across his bracket, besting Terry Mason of Reno twice to land third in the difficult tournament.
Competing in his first action since football, unseeded Tyler Malone was awarded a tumultuous path to a medal after a first-round loss to seventh-seeded Justin Brown of Calaveras. Malone was forced to win six straight matches to reach the consolation quarters, where he ultimately dropped two straight to settle for eighth. Frankie Trent won five matches after his first loss to finish 5-2, just one win short of a medal at 182.
At 220, Hondo Arpoika won his way to the quarterfinals after an upset of No. 3 seed Ruben Sanchez of Ceres. He won his next match to guarantee a medal, but forfeited to teammate Zach Fallentine in the seventh place match. Fallentine had won three straight matches in consolation after falling to the No. 1 seed earlier in the tournament.
“We are a long way from where we need to be, but we have a solid team,” coach Stevens said. “I think we can do better than what we did (at the Sierra Nevada Classic).”