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Section Banner Comes Back Home To Oakdale
Making his season debut with authority, Jake Ryan picked up a pair of victories at Lincoln High in Stockton this weekend to help Oakdale claim their eighth straight CIF Sac-Joaquin Section title. DENNIS D. CRUZ/THE LEADER


Oakdale’s varsity wrestling program has come down with a case of the blues. Not in the traditional depressing way, but quite the opposite. The wrestling team claimed its historic eighth straight CIF Sac-Joaquin Section title on Saturday, Feb. 6. Oakdale went to Lincoln High School of Stockton to attempt to bring home the prestigious blue banner.

Oakdale’s journey to the section crown came from a different direction than their 2015 section title. Last year the team won behind a talented senior class that featured Frankie Trent, Nico Colunga, Max Stevens, Logan Eaton, Abel Garcia, Wyatt Hjelm and Miguel Ibarra. They were some of the key departures from the team, graduating last May. This year the team only has three seniors, thus leaving the door open for the underclassmen to shine for the Mustangs. Three freshmen have stepped up to the challenge all season long and have posted impressive performances. Dustin Chavez, Cody Golding and Ricky Torres have grappled their way to big victories this season and that did not change this past weekend. Both Chavez and Torres earned a pair of pins in action at Lincoln.

“Our freshman guys have played a big role for this team’s success. They have stepped up big for our team, not just this weekend, but throughout the season,” Coach Steve Strange said.

The Mustangs put away Inderkum 49-28 for their first team victory on Saturday. Their next opponent was a familiar foe, Vista Del Lago. Last season the Mustangs grounded the Eagles with a 72-0 victory to claim the banner. This year, however, the two teams came down to the wire where Oakdale earned a hard fought 35-33 team victory in the finals.

“It’s a big accomplishment to win eight in a row. It shows the consistency of the kids’ hard work and dedication, not just during the season, but throughout the year as well,” Strange said of the team’s Section title.

Helping lead the way for the Mustangs were Chavez, Torres, Golding, Cody Williams and senior Trevor Williams. However, it might have been the return of Jake Ryan that helped motivate the Mustangs. In the lineup for the first time since last season, Ryan earned a pair of victories for Oakdale.

“It was nice to get some big wins, not just for myself but for the team. It helped build my confidence for the postseason,” said Ryan.

He suffered a torn ACL last season and had surgery on it in March of 2015. He went on to add “It was a lot of rehab and I am glad to be back on the mat.”

Coach Strange also acknowledged the 152 pounder’s return: “His return was a big boost to our lineup and helped spark the other guys. Having him back is big, especially this time of year.”

The Mustangs now turn their attention toward a pair of home meets. On Saturday, Feb. 13 the team hosts the Valley Oak League meet and will also host the two-day Divisionals on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 19 and 20. Wrestling begins at 9 a.m. for both meets and will be held at OHS in the big gym.