To quote the singing duo of Peaches and Herb, “Reunited and it feels so good…”
On Friday, Oakdale High’s varsity wrestling lineup that has split into two teams for each of their last two tournament weekends will join forces for the last big assessment of their regular season.
Grapplers that were stretched out across 56 total brackets in Clovis, Turlock, Temecula and Escalon in a matter of nine days will unite for the two-day Tim Brown Memorial Invitational in Sacramento.
It’s a serious look at potentially Oakdale’s final roster for a grueling postseason schedule of tournaments, and a chance for the entire lineup to see bracket competition similar to the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament that Oakdale won a season ago.
The Mustang grapplers also won a Tim Brown title in 2011, and will fight 88 other teams in hopes of a repeat this year. The tournament, which features nine teams ranked top-35 in the state and five in the top 20, is considered the closest thing to a preview of the SJS Masters.
“The Tim Brown is going to be tough,” Oakdale coach Brian Stevens said. “We have been split up so much, but this is going to be a good chance to get our team together and get everybody in the weight classes they will be in at the end of the year.
“It’s a big tournament and a chance for us to get some momentum for the end of the year.”
Stevens said Oakdale may still be without injured returning state qualifier Dustin Harris (ranked No. 5 in the state by the California Wrestling Newsletter), but on Friday, Harris said he hopes to return the lineup for the Tim Brown.
If Harris returns, he gives Oakdale a good opportunity to collect a bounty of team points in his bracket. Harris was second at the Tim Brown a season ago and is one of seven Oakdale wrestlers somewhere on the state rankings.
Nico Colunga (State No. 34 at 106 pounds) was Oakdale’s lone placer at the Temecula Valley Invitational on Saturday after a 5-2 romp through an extremely stacked bracket to finish seventh. He dropped a hard-fought 4-2 decision to former teammate Angel Velasquez of Central Catholic (State No. 5) in the tournament quarterfinals.
“Nico had a good tournament,” Stevens said. “He looked tough and wrestled great against Angel Velasquez. Seventh at that tournament is pretty good.”
Juan Garza (State No. 25) was seeded fourth in the tournament, but lost his first match and could only finish top-12 after a 4-2 finish in his 116-pound bracket. Tyler Noon (State No. 30) finished top-16 after a 3-2 outing at 138 pounds. Max Stevens (State honorable mention) was 2-2 at 120 pounds as well.
“It was good experience for those four guys,” Stevens said. “I thought they were good enough to go and good enough to take a couple of losses that will only help them for competition in the future.”
The rest of Oakdale’s varsity lineup was at the Lloyd C. Engel Tournament in Escalon, where 12 wrestlers placed top-four in A, B or C brackets across the 14 weights. Hondo Arpoika claimed Oakdale’s best finish, taking the championship after a 6-1 win over Summerville’s Cole Busch in the 195-pound A bracket. Jake Jacobson (State honorable mention) and Kyle Cupit were second while Tyler Malone, Miko Arpoika (State honorable mention), Eric Barrigan and Jeremy Brandau also landed A bracket medals in third place.
Logan Eaton, Robbie Barnhardt, Karrel Estell and Frank Trent all placed third in their brackets while Tanner Reeves was fourth and Tanner Morgan won two matches.