During the summer of 2016 local resident sports figures displayed their talents nationwide. From Ultimate Fighter Michael “Mayday” McDonald, to body builder J.R. Dahm, to high school baseball standout Bryce Kirk, and to the Mustangs football team claiming a state championship, all were well-represented on larger stages. In this look back from July to December, we remember the events that made the summer sizzle, the fall memorable and the winter a wondrous time for sports fans.
Three years ago, then-freshman Bryce Kirk was named the Oakdale Mustangs starting catcher … for the varsity baseball team. Having to earn the respect of his upperclassmen teammates and a first year head coach in Nate Gregory, Kirk wasted little time and made a major impact on the team. Fast forward to today and Kirk is still the signal caller behind the plate on the varsity team preparing for his senior season. During the summer of 2016 he traveled to San Diego for a three-day baseball showcase. Kirk was the first Oakdale Mustang to be invited to participate in the California Baseball Coaches Association (CBCA) California North-South Showcase at the University of California San Diego.
J.R. Dahm is the owner and a professional trainer at Revitalize Fitness at 1214 W. F St., Oakdale, and he is also a body builder. Dahm went to Los Angeles to compete in a fitness/body building contest where he came away with the West Coast Championship. Dahm also traveled to Pennsylvania to compete in the National Finals. To his credit, Dahm has competed in several competitions over the years and has claimed many trophies in the process.
In a marquee match on July 13, Michael ‘Mayday’ McDonald entered the octagon at UFC Fight Night, ultimately losing the bout to John ‘Hands of Stone’ Lineker. The event took place in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in front of a sold out crowd and worldwide on FS1. McDonald (17-4-0) landed 14 of his 30 strikes in the fight, but was caught with a right hook that caused him to drop to the mat. Referee Herb Dean stopped the fight 2 minutes and 43 seconds into the first round.
Oakdale welcomed a new freshman football coach, Rod Long. The special education teacher at OHS spent 12 years as the head coach for Modesto High School.
Hot weather didn’t keep them away and, on Monday, Aug. 8 nearly 200 golfers teed off for a good cause: to help put an end to Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The Karen Basi Wave of Hope MS Foundation hosted its 11th annual charity golf tournament at Oakdale Golf and Country Club. This year’s theme was “Imagine A Future Without MS” with the staff dressed up as science-fiction characters for the theme. Basi, who has MS, said this year’s theme hit home. “The inspiration behind our theme this year is because I have grandbabies and I don’t know if MS is hereditary or not. Just the thought that they may inherit this awful disease, it hurts me to think they may not find a cure,” Karen Basi explained. “So our sole purpose is to eliminate MS completely in the near future.”
From Under 6 to Under 14, several dozen teams featuring some 650 young soccer players suited up for the Opening Day ceremonies and games at Oakdale’s T.L. Davis Sports Park on Saturday, Aug. 20.The opening ceremonies began at 9 a.m., followed by an introduction of each team, their coach and sponsor, with the teams then running down the length of a soccer field as family, friends and spectators on both sides cheered them on as they ran. Oakdale Youth Soccer League President Greg Hodge offered an overview, thanking the crowd for coming out to “celebrate our community and support our kids” while OYSL board member Cherilyn Bairos took the microphone to introduce all the teams.
Oakdale girls golf continued to impress during the early part of the season. In the team’s two contests this week, Oakdale took both Valley Oak League matches to improve to 4-0 in league play.
Oakdale High School Cross Country teams traveled to Elkhorn Country Club in Stockton to take part in the 2016 University of the Pacific (UOP) Tiger Invitational. With dozens of schools in attendance for the big races, it was Oakdale’s freshman and sophomore girls team that shined the brightest for the Mustangs. The frosh/soph group finished second overall as a team, and featured four medalists. Four freshman girls, who typically run varsity but were moved to the freshman/sophomore girls team for this race, were awarded medals and helped bring Oakdale to a second place finish. Karina Prado, Kayden Legan, Kendra Branch and Jazmin Martinez all represented the second place team.
The two-time defending VOL varsity volleyball champions have gotten off to a strong start for the VOL season. Oakdale improved to 2-0 in league play after defeating Sierra on the road 3-0 on Monday, Sept. 12.
It had been 11 years since the Oakdale High School girls golf team won the Valley Oak League. Until now. This year, a young group of golfers not only claimed the Valley Oak League championship, they went undefeated in the process. Oakdale won three consecutive titles from 2003 to 2005 but since then East Union had won 10 straight titles. The Lady Mustangs, undefeated in match play, continued their season long dominance at the Valley Oak League Championship Tournament with a first place finish to cap their perfect run through the VOL to the title, dethroning the Lady Lancers.
The annual Homecoming week Juniors vs. Seniors powder puff flag football game took place on Wednesday, Oct. 12. Thousands of fans gathered to watch the game at The Corral and were not disappointed in the action. Last season the seniors defeated the juniors 33-0 and last year’s juniors – now seniors – did not want to lose again. This time, however, the game ended in a tie.
The Oakdale Mustangs football program played to a regular season finale victory over Central Catholic. In front of approximately 6,000 fans at The Corral on Friday night, Nov. 4, the Mustangs gave the home crowd exactly what they wanted – a win. There was a lot at stake, including a share of the Valley Oak League crown. Coach Trent Merzon, his staff and the team joined together and in front of the large and rowdy crowd, walked out with a 34-21 win over the Raiders.
For the first time in Oakdale High School’s cross country history, both the varsity boys and varsity girls teams have advanced to the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Meet. The historic feat was achieved on Saturday, Nov. 5 at the CIF Sac-Joaquin Sub-Sections at Frogtown in Angels Camp. The varsity boys finished eighth in the sub-section and the girls placed 10th overall as a team to qualify for the Sac-Joaquin Section Finals in Folsom.
They say all good things must come to an end. Unfortunately for the Oakdale varsity girls water polo team, their reign as three-time defending CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Champions came to end as they fell to Davis Sr. High, 20-5, in the Division I finals on Saturday, Nov. 12.
Oakdale’s cross country program had a representative compete in the CIF State Cross Country Championships. What made this feat even more impressive was that a freshman was the one to make the historic run. Freshman Karina Prado competed on Saturday, Nov. 26 at Woodward Park in Fresno.
For the third consecutive year, the Oakdale Lady Mustangs clinched the Valley Oak League volleyball title. Oakdale welcomed Lathrop to town on Wednesday night, Oct. 26 for Senior Night 2016. With a packed gym the Lady Mustangs honored their five seniors, and then won their third Valley Oak League title in as many years, knocking off Lathrop in three sets.
Continuing their success, for the third time in seven years, the Oakdale Stampede youth football team earned the title Super Bowl Champions.
After the way the season started for Oakdale, a CIF Section Championship seemed a bit of a stretch. However, veteran head coach Trent Merzon, his staff, the players and community never lost sight of the goal, or the faith to achieve it. The Mustangs earned the top seed in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D3 bracket and played like it throughout the playoffs. In the finals the Mustangs traveled to Lincoln High School in Stockton on Friday night, Dec. 2 and took on the high flying offense of the Christian Brothers Falcons, who came in as the third seed. Under the lights on a cold December night, Oakdale and its huge turnout of faithful fans celebrated with their third blue banner in five years after a 51-14 takedown of the Falcons.
In the 41st annual James Riddle Invitational, Oakdale’s wrestling team dominated the home tournament. Eight varsity wrestlers captured first place in their respective weight classes. 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.
In their final game of the season, the Oakdale varsity football Mustangs earned a title few ever achieve – state champions. Only a few seasons ago, the Mustangs came close to winning a CIF State Championship, ultimately falling just short. Fast forward to 2016 and the Mustangs found themselves once again playing for the prestigious title. This past weekend the team – along with stands full of Oakdale fans – was in La Jolla to take on the Bishop’s Knights in the 2016 CIF Division 3A State Bowl. It was all Oakdale, as the Mustangs shut out their opponent 47-0, leaving no doubt which team was the class of the division.