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Nine Wrestlers Grapple Way To Invitational Medals
Working hard against his opponent in the finals match at 195 pounds is Oakdales Luis Ayala. He won the match 9-3 to take first place in Saturday action. DENNIS D. CRUZ/THE LEADER

In the 41st annual James Riddle Invitational, Oakdale dominated the home tournament. Eight varsity wrestlers captured first place in their respective weight classes. Dustin Chavez, Jake Abeyta, Cody Williams, Ricky Torres, Gabe Martinez, Abel Garcia, Colbey Harlan and Luis Ayala all earned first place honors in the prestigious tournament. There were 25 teams from around the state that came to Oakdale High School on Saturday, Dec. 10 and enjoyed premier high school wrestling. Oakdale took first place as a team with a total of 231 points.

At 120 pounds, Chavez defeated his opponent from Sonora with a 9-3 decision in the finals. Chavez’s escape with 13 seconds left in the second period helped lift him to the win. Abeyta, at 126 pounds, went on to a 4-0 victory over his opponent from Woodcreek in the finals. Abeyta scored three points in the final two minutes to pull away for the win. Cody Williams, who weighed in at 132 pounds for the tournament, dominated in the finals to earn his medal. Williams outwrestled his opponent from Waterford 11-5. Oakdale’s Torres competed in the 138-pound weight division and finished with a first place medal after winning 7-2. Torres did not give up a point until late in the match. At 168 pounds, Martinez grappled his way to an 11-5 win in the finals.

The only Oakdale pin fall victory in the finals came from 170-pound Abel Garcia. He made short work of his Golden Valley opponent. Garcia dominated the match and finished it off with 22 seconds remaining in the opening period.

“I feel the preseason workouts and training have helped me early on the season. As a team, we are doing great and we have the best coaches.” Garcia said. “As an individual I try to eliminate my mistakes match by match.”

The Mustangs continued to dominate on the mat in the finals as Colbey Harlan (182) went on to win 7-0 over his Lodi opponent. Harlan got off to a fast start and scored four quick first period points and did not look back. Not even a black eye and swelling around his left eye slowed the medalist down. Oakdale’s final first place medalist was 195-pounder Luis Ayala, who won 9-3 over a grappler from Lincoln.

Also earning a medal was 152-pounder Dakota McNeil who placed fourth in the tournament.

Oakdale wrestlers will return to the mat with multiple tournaments this weekend. On Friday, Dec. 16 the varsity boys will compete in the two day tournament Zinkin Classic at Buchanan High School. The junior varsity boys will compete at the Mel Focha Junior Varsity tournament at Escalon on Saturday. Wednesday, Dec. 21 the varsity boys will head to Modesto Junior College for an Invitational.