Fifty-one prep wrestling teams made the trek to Mission Oaks High in Tulare recently in search of top honors across 32-man brackets in 14 different weights at The 15th Annual Bash.
Fifty of those teams went home without a title, but Oakdale’s wrestling team scored a landslide in team points to easily snare top honors.
Oakdale’s 320.5 collective points easily outpaced second place Porterville (169.5) and third place Centennial Corona (168.5).
“Everybody wrestled really well,” Oakdale coach Brian Stevens said. “The reason we did so well is our whole lineup just kept winning matches.”
Oakdale brought 17 wrestlers to compete on both an “A” and “B” team, and saw just two losses across each weight in the first day of action.
Thirteen Mustangs landed top-eight placements, including four title wins and another five runner-up finishes.
Top seeded Juan Garza ousted Javier Jimenez in a 12-3 finale at 103 pounds to claim Oakdale’s first title. He watched Shane Tate steal the same honor at 140 pounds after pinning Dinuba’s Monte Renteria with five seconds to go in the opening round.
Tate earned the Don Olson Most Inspirational award for his dominant run through a bracket that yielded him three pins and a technical fall (15-point lead).
Trent Noon also had three pins and tech-fall in his run to the finals at 160 pounds. He capped his tourney with an impressive 8-0 major decision over Centennial’s second-seeded Brandon Sotomayor.
Oakdale’s A.C. Brown secured the Mustangs’ last championship by ousting Yosemite’s Kyle Lincoln in a 6-0 finale at 189 pounds.
Oakdale’s returning state champion, David Ferry, ran into state bronze medalist, Nick Cano of St. Francis, in his 145-pound title match. Cano had made waves at the state meet last year by losing his opening match (3-2 to the state runner-up) before winning seven consecutive matches in the consolation bracket to finish third.
Cano and Ferry never squared off in their 135-pound bracket at the state meet, but Cano won their December meeting by topping Ferry in a 6-4 thriller to win The Bash.
Oakdale’s Garrett Fortado was seeded just third in a difficult 112-pound bracket, but beat second seed Josh Rodriguez of Righetti 3-1 to reach the finals. There he fell in a 10-4 decision to sixth-place state-placer, Vincent Gomez of Frontier.
Oakdale dominated the 119-pound bracket with both Ronnie Stevens and Andrew Markel earning trips to the semis for an all-Mustang bout to decide a finalist. Stevens won the match, 7-2, but was pinned by Martin Sandoval of Porterville in the brackets’ final match. Markel, competing for Oakdale team 2, finished fifth.
Fourth-seeded Tanner Feurstein beat returning state qualifier Anthony Rodriguez of Righetti in a 3-2 match to reach the finals, but fell to Andrew Shulte of Centennial by a 7-6 score in the first place showdown at 130 pounds.
Dustin Harris went 4-1 at 152, losing his final match to top seeded Jorge Barajas of St. Francis for a second place finish.
Tyler Malone, who went 4-0 at the John Zehnder Duals, continued his success with a sixth place finish at 135 pounds. Oakdale saw placements from Tyler Noon (fourth at 125) and Miko Arpoika (8th at 171). Hondo Arpoika (189) also won three matches while Dillon Thomasovich (152) and Kyle Cupid (215) saw two wins.
Oakdale (ranked third in state as a team) has some of its toughest non-postseason matches of the year on the upcoming docket. The Mustangs will dual the No. 1 ranked team in the state, Bakersfield, in a highly anticipated showdown on Thursday in Bakersfield.
Oakdale duals East Union and Sierra on Jan. 5 to open Valley Oak League action, before entry in the Jan. 7-8 Doc Buchanan Classic — considered the toughest tournament in California.
It’s a veritable gauntlet of difficult opponents, but exactly what Mustang coaches are looking for in a season that could represent one of Oakdale’s best in an already prestigious school history.
“I’m just hoping we go down there and do our best to win matches,” Stevens said. “Bakersfield is tough as nails and the ‘Doc B’ is just a tremendously strong tournament.”