Trent Noon’s determination clung as tightly to him as the Oakdale High wrestling singlet that gripped his body.
Noon twisted to his right, pivoting on his hips while his arm snaked underneath the leg of Vacaville’s Hudson Buck. He drove his shoulder into Buck, spinning violently as his lanky frame whipped around for a two-point reversal.
Moments later, Noon turned an exhausted Buck to his back for the finishing touches on a 6-2 victory for the 171-pound title, and the finishing touches on Oakdale’s historic un-seating of Vacaville for the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters team championship on Saturday at the Stockton Arena.
It was Oakdale’s second ever team title and first since 1964. Vacaville, which led Oakdale in team points throughout the first day and for most of the second day of the tourney, failed to claim their fifth consecutive title and eighth SJS Individuals championship in 10 years.
“I knew he was gassing, and I just kept working to get that reversal I knew I was going to get,” Noon said. “I had to pull it out for the team, and to be section champs my senior year is such an amazing relief.”
Big wins in the early medal rounds gave Oakdale a four and a half point lead before the first place matches. Both Oakdale and Vacaville sent four wrestlers to the finals, so it was clear the Noon/Buck match would not only factor into the team score, but also add some late bravado for the program to come out on top.
And Oakdale stole it all, especially considering Buck was heavily favored after wining the same tournament at the same weight a season ago while Noon finished just fourth at 152.
The Mustangs took three championships to Vacaville’s one, and nabbed 197 team points to Vacaville’s 184.5. The next three teams scored just 131 (Elk Grove), 98 (Granite Bay) and 94 (Del Oro).
“It was intense all the way up to Trent’s match,” Oakdale coach Brian Stevens said. “It was us and Vacaville the whole tournament, but once he won, we knew we had done it.”
Oakdale also qualified a school record nine wrestlers to Friday’s first day of the California Interscholastic Federation Championships at the Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield.
Noon, Garrett Fortado and A.C. Brown enter their respective brackets in a good position after winning Masters titles under the spotlight. Shane Tate, David Ferry, Dustin Harris, Tanner Feuerstein, Juan Garza and Ronnie Stevens will also take on the state field.
Fortado overcame an interesting match with eventual third place finisher Kasey Klause of Vacaville in the second round, outscoring opponents 29-4 before a 4-2 finish of Golden Valley’s Blaze Fidler for a gold medal at 112 pounds.
Brown was ranked No. 7 in the state (California wrestler newsletter) before his showdown with McNair’s Malique Micenheimer (No. 6 at the time), but the two have flip-flopped ranks after Brown nearly pinned the Stockton grappler and dominated late for a 12-2 championship win at 215.
The victory added the last notches to Oakdale’s team points, and Brown’s five straight wins in both days were instrumental in garnering the team title he desperately wanted for his teammates.
“I would have much rather had a team title than my own individual one,” Brown said afterwards. “I love this team so much, and this shows how much hard work we have put in this season.”
Tate also reached the finals at 135 pounds, but his continued aggression to score points on Dalton Meltiveir of Lincoln left him just short of several takedowns at the edge of the mat. After spending most of the match defending Tate’s push, Meltivier sprung for a surprise takedown of his own with just moments to go. Tate escaped, but desperate shots couldn’t find their mark as time expired on a 3-2 defeat.
Oakdale’s returning state champ, 145-pound Ferry, missed his shot at the finals after he was caught off balance and turned to his back for a pin in a semi-final bout with Oak Ridge wrestler, Keaton Subjeck.
Ferry bounced back to land important team points in the consolation bracket, specifically a pin in his next match before a win over Vacaville’s Brent Reese for third place.
“Obviously I was upset because I got caught, but I knew I had to keep going and win matches for the team,” Ferry said. “I still have state, and that’s the tournament that matters the most.”
Harris rebounded from a one-point loss in the quarterfinals to win four straight matches and finish third. He upended Dillon Mueller of Bella Vista in a 1-0 thriller to take third at 152.
Feuerstein suffered similar tragedy early in the tournament during a loss to Division 1 champ, Tim Warren of Napa, but took five straight wins (one over Vacaville and two over former state placers) before ending fourth. He eliminated Turlock state placer Brandon Egleston from the tournament in a clutch 5-1 victory, and ousted Pitman state placer Andrew Perez by the same score in the consolation semifinals.
Juan Garza had the bad luck of being on the same side of the bracket as nationally ranked Emilio Saavedra of Pitman, and trailed Saavedra 2-0 after a round before slipping to a pin in the semi-finals. Garza allowed a late let-down to signal a loss in his following match, but upended Kevin Tarp of Foothill to finish fifth.
As with Harris and Garza, Ronnie Stevens secured his first ever trip to state when he landed a clutch overtime victory over Jesse Bethel’s George Haith, before topping eventual three-time state qualifier Grant Burkhalter of Bella Vista in a 4-2 consolation quarterfinal. He slipped in his next two matches to finish sixth.
The late losses did little to dampen his spirits, or those of his father and coach.
“It’s really cool to win a tournament like this,” Coach Stevens said. “And it was doubly gratifying for me to see my son work so hard and qualify too.”