Over the past decade, the varsity Oakdale Mustangs wrestling team has had a headlock on the Valley Oak League (VOL). On Thursday, Jan. 28 Oakdale traveled to Modesto to grapple with Central Catholic to decide the VOL Championship. Like they have all season, the Mustangs made short work of the opposition. Taking 13 of 14 matches against the Raiders, Oakdale won the dual meet 67-6 to claim their tenth consecutive VOL title.
“It feels pretty good to win ten in a row. It really is a major accomplishment,” head coach Steve Strange said of the feat.
Oakdale carried their momentum into the weekend to clash with two top wrestling schools in California. The Mustangs welcomed Bakersfield and Clovis West to town on Saturday afternoon. Oakdale split with the pair of schools, dropping their battle with Bakersfield 34-33 but countering with a hard fought 35-34 victory over Clovis West.
As wrestling fans gathered inside the main gym at OHS, the Mustangs got ready to rumble with Bakersfield. Entering the meet Oakdale had four wrestlers ranked in the state, while the Drillers had eight state ranked wrestlers.
Racking up wins for the Mustangs included number 25 in the state, Jake Abeyta, Cody Williams (34), Ricky Torres (36) Nathan Powers, Nico Sarale, Matt Kjeldgaard and tenth ranked Trevor Williams.
Trevor Williams’s bout against third ranked, and fourth place finisher at last year’s CIF State tournament, J.J. Figureroa stole the show Saturday. The two 134-pound grapplers battled their way to a 1-1 tie after three periods. In the fourth period, Williams scored two points for the win after a takedown.
“Entering today I knew this was going to be a tough match. This was not going to be a cake walk; I trained hard, the whole team trained hard for today. I now know where I stand after today’s win,” Williams said of his thrilling OT victory.
Following the Bakersfield meet, Oakdale honored the team’s three seniors. Trevor Williams, Julian De Los Rios and John Bates were all honored prior to the meet against Clovis West.
“It has been phenomenal to be a part of this team, this program. I am just glad to be a part of this team for the past three years,” De Los Rios said
Coach Strange also commented on his trio of seniors: “John Bates is brand new to the program, he transferred from Arkansas and has had his first few matches for us. De Los Rios has been with the program for three years, and earned his first varsity tournament victory at Calaveras last weekend. Trevor is kind of our main guy this year. He has been to the state meet three times and is ranked in the top ten in state.”
Getting things started for the Mustangs on the mat were 108-pound Dustin Chavez, who is ranked 31st in the state. He earned a 10-2 major decision over 33rd ranked Steven Aranda. At 122 pounds, Cody Williams earned his second win on the afternoon when he defeated John Rodriguez with a first period fall with 39 seconds left. Torres earned a hard fought 13-4 decision over Isaiah Walls. Trevor Williams capped off his impressive day with a 17-4 decision over Ray Aranda.
Clovis West then went on a three match winning streak that was snapped by a Cody Golding 2-0 decision over Sal Preciado. Trailing 34-20 with three matches to go, Oakdale’s Max Moore got the Mustangs back on track with a first period fall. Nico Sarale closed the gap to 34-32 with a forfeit, setting the stage for a winner take all match between heavyweights Matt Kjeldgaard and Ceaser Deleon. After a scoreless first period, Kjeldgaard took a 1-0 lead in the second period. With 1:01 remaining in the match, Kjeldgaard got the crowd on their collective feet with a takedown to take a 3-0 lead. Kjeldgaard put things away with a reversal as time was winding down to win the match 5-1.
Oakdale now sets its sights on the Section Duals at Lincoln High School (Stockton) on Saturday, Feb. 6 beginning at 9 a.m.