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Winter Sports Means Wrestling In Oakdale
Jake Ryan works out on the elliptical and builds up a sweat during practice. DENNIS D. CRUZ/THE LEADER


Oakdale High School athletes excel at many sports. From football, which has made it to the CIF Section Championship game in back-to-back years, to the baseball program that won seven straight Valley Oak League titles in recent years, and the varsity girls track and field team, who literally ran away from the competition over the past decade. All very impressive, but the OHS varsity wrestling team has carved its own place in school history, putting a headlock on the competition, not only in the Valley Oak League, but on the entire Sac-Joaquin Section.

The dominant wrestling program is gearing up for the season, looking for an unprecedented eighth straight Section Dual Championship, a feat that has yet to be matched on the mat.

“The commitment and sacrifice of the kids throughout the year leads us to success. The school administration, coaching staff, alumni, and community are dedicated to putting the kids in the right position to excel,” Mustang wrestling coach Steve Strange said of what makes the program so successful. “As a coaching staff we are committed to getting the kids to buy in and believe that the training and perseverance will help them be champions on and off the mat.”

Oakdale has several returning grapplers to the program including Bronson Harlan, Colbey Harmon, Jake Ryan, Jake Abeyta and Cody Williams. Also returning to the mat are junior Abel Garcia, who finished fourth in the 2015 State Championship; 285 pounder Matt Kjeldgaard, who qualified for the Masters tournament as a freshman in 2015; and three-time state tournament qualifier, senior Trevor Williams.

“The goal is to get a state title. I’ve wanted it since I was a little kid, and have worked tremendously hard at it, and now is the time,” Williams said of working toward his personal goal of winning a state championship. “Coach Strange and Coach Colunga have been working with me since the beginning and this is the year.”

New additions to the team include Dustin Chavez, Ricky Torres, Gabe Martinez and Nico Sarale.

“We expect the entire program to have a great year. The junior varsity team is off to a great start and we expect them to have continued improvement throughout the season. The varsity team expects to contend for top honors again at the Masters and State tournaments,” said Strange.

The varsity team action gets underway this weekend when Oakdale hosts the 40th annual James Riddle Tournament on Saturday, Dec 12 beginning at 9 a.m.