With the weather turning chilly, Oakdale High School sports head indoors for the winter. Wrestling and basketball programs hit the gym over the next three months in winter season action.
Oakdale’s wrestling program is widely considered to be among the best in the region. With 11 straight Valley Oak League titles and nine straight CIF Sac-Joaquin Section banners, it is hard to argue that they are anything but elite. The 2017-2018 roster for the team is as stacked as it has been over the last decade.
Jake Ryan, Bronson Harmon and Colbey Harlan return to the mat for Oakdale this winter and all three of them are heading off to college to wrestle for prestigious schools next fall. Harlan, who finished second in the state last year will wrestle at Stanford University, while Harmon and Ryan will team together at Cal Poly. Also returning to the program are Dustin Chavez, Gabe Martinez, Ricky Torres, Cody Golding, Matt Kjeldgaard, Max Moore, Dakota McNeil, Josh Bates, Justin Jericoff, Jorge Barajas, Caleb Kuppens and Faalia Martinez, one of three girls on the team.
“I want to return to state. Last year I went but did not place, this year the goal is to go and at least place,” said Martinez.”
Freshman Henry Porter comes into the season with a lot of hype as he is a State Qualifier in youth wrestling. Steve Strange is the head coach of the wrestling team. Oakdale will host the 42nd annual James Riddle Invite this Saturday, Dec. 2 with wrestling action beginning around 9 a.m.
On the hardwood, the varsity boys are coached by Hondo Arpoika. This will be the third season under Arpoika. The basketball team has had a few scrimmages so far and on Thursday, Nov. 30 the boys will host Pacheco in a non-league preseason game. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. League play is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 3 when they travel to Tracy to take on Kimball. The team’s home opener is scheduled for Friday night, Jan. 5 against Weston Ranch. Last year the team finished with a 1-13 league record. Their lone win came against East Union on Jan. 25 in a thrilling 69-65 double overtime contest at Oakdale. Point guard Drew Legan is looking forward to the new season.
“We have been working hard together. Building a new foundation, a winning foundation,” Legan said.
Assisting coach Arpoika are Charles Legan, Joe Peterson and Jack Strand. Coaching changes in the boys junior varsity and freshman programs were announced this offseason. Taking over for the junior varsity will be Kelly Powers, who was an assistant on the varsity bench last year. Powers is taking over for Don Muniz. For the freshman team, head coach will be Bobby Monges. He is an OHS alum and has helped out with the basketball programs in recent years.
Head Coach Julie Ford returns for her third season as head coach of the varsity Lady Mustangs. Saturday, Dec. 2 the girls host Downey in their first non-league contest of the season. Freshman tipoff is at 4 p.m., junior varsity at 5:30 p.m. and varsity takes the court at 7 p.m. Their first league home game will be against Kimball on Tuesday night, Jan. 2. Last year the varsity team finished with a record of 3-11 and finished in sixth place.
Senior Sarah Bohrer returns to the team, along with up and coming players Carley Maaske, Madelyn Ruthman, Grace Higle, Caroline Hamilton, Hallie Morton, Angie Lowry and Whitney Neilson. Freshman Alicia Platt also made the team. Assisting Coach Ford will be Murrel Esparza. Coach Cheri Martin returns as junior varsity head coach. Justin Martin will be taking the helm of the freshman team as he replaces long time coach Gary Smith.