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Oakdales Sports Year In Review Features Highlights Galore
Dustin Bowen rode Holy Slinger for an 84 point ride Sunday afternoon. Bowen took first place in the Bull Riding portion of the annual Oakdale PRCA rodeo competition. DENNIS D. CRUZ/The Leader

Oakdale’s Sports Year In Review Features Highlights Galore


As we get used to seeing 2015 on the calendar, now’s a good time to take a few moments and revisit some of the biggest sports stories in the community during the first half of 2014. From league and section champions, to community events including the 63rd annual PRCA Oakdale Rodeo, sit back and let the reminiscing begin.



Another Sierra Nevada Classic, another title for Oakdale junior Nico Colunga. After two third place finishes at the season opening Riddle and Morningstar Invitational left him on the hunt against the considerably tougher Reno bracket, he burned through the tourney for six wins, three by technical fall to score 31.5 out of Oakdale’s 156.5 team points, including a solid 4-1 championship victory over Sac-Joaquin Section standout Jansen Engelbrecht of Del Oro.

Three Oakdale athletes have been named to the ‘Black Hat’ all-star teams for the entire 209 area code. Linebacker Brynden McAndrews was named to the 2013 All-Black Hat Football first team, while defensive lineman Landen Ichord and defensive back Tanner Morgan were picked for second team honors.

Securing the first Valley Oak League victory in three seasons for Coach Justin Schwitters, the Oakdale varsity Lady Mustangs basketball team took down Sierra by a 42-32 victory in recent play.

From the youngest third and fourth grade participants to junior high school players, future Mustangs are being put through their paces every week on the hardwood.

A basketball camp, with a couple of weeks of instructional clinics followed by several weeks of games, is bringing dozens of youngsters to the high school gym each Saturday.

After 21 years, CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Commissioner Pete Saco is riding off into the sunset. Saco announced at the Wednesday, Jan.15 Board of Managers meeting that this will be his last year as commissioner of the second-largest Section in the state. His last month will be August, where his final act as commissioner will be overseeing the induction of the Section’s third Hall of Fame class.



Former Oakdale Mustang standout Marcus Anthony Hernandez has been recruited by McPherson College in McPherson, Kansas and will continue his collegiate career there. Hernandez started on the football field with the River Oak Redskins and from there he moved to the Oakdale Stampede, giving way in his high school years to a spot on the roster as an Oakdale Mustang, playing at the Corral. He also played for Modesto Junior College and now is bound for the Division II School, where he will don the uniform of the McPherson College Bulldogs.

Race day at the 54th Annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals started off with much fanfare, as thousands of fans were given the opportunity to walk the track with the 2013 drag racing season champions. The reigning Top Fuel champion, Shawn Langdon was joined by Funny Car champ John Force, Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin and Pro Stock motorcycle rider Matt Smith as they took the fans on a magical tour down the famous track, explaining what it takes to get their respective high horse powered race cars quickly and efficiently down the track. It was a great opportunity for the fans, young and old alike, to get up close and personal with four champions.

On Saturday, Feb. 15 all eight high schools clashed for the Valley Oak League wrestling championship in Sonora. Oakdale, much like they have over the past seven years, dominated and claimed the title once again for an eighth consecutive year.

The event was held in Sonora’s Bud Castle Gymnasium for the final time, as the school will be relocating into the Mother Lode League next season. Former Oakdale head wrestling coach, who still stays active with the team as an assistant, Brian Stevens said “I’m going to miss coming up here. Sonora has always been a great place to wrestle.”



Oakdale is known as “The Cowboy Capital of the World” but there is a teenage girl who knows her way around a ranch and the arena as well as any guy.

She is Oakdale’s own Adrianna Adams. The 14-year-old has competed in what is known as The National Reined Cow Horse Association’s Youth division and has won the World Championship two consecutive years; the only person to ever achieve this in the history of the 65-year competition.

Oakdale’s Nico Colunga picked up his second state medal Saturday with a sixth-place finish at 113 pounds in the CIF State Wrestling Championship at Bakersfield’s Rabobank Arena.

“The boys wrestled hard,” Mustangs coach Steve Strange said of his five-man contingent. “The tournament is not getting any easier. It is a tough one. There are a lot of good wrestlers here and a lot of matches could have gone either way. It just depends who steps up and gets it done.

“Colunga is the team leader. He is dedicated and it shows. He has two state medals.”

Oakdale High School golf team hosted its inaugural 18-hole Oakdale Cup at the Oakdale Golf and Country Club. The tournament consisted of 10 schools in the area with a total of 59 golfers.

The Mustangs, who were led by Nathan Lute’s 91, scored a total of 502 that landed them a seventh place finish. Lute finished 13th overall on the leaderboard.

Three-time U.S. Olympian, Suzy Powell, held a World Athletics Center Phase One Throws Clinic at Oakdale High School on Sunday, March 16.

The Modesto resident is the current American record holder in the discus with an even 222 feet. She attended UCLA, where she was a five-time All-American. In 1994 Powell competed in the World Junior Championships, where she took home the Bronze Medal in Lisbon, Portugal. Powell also represented the USA in the Olympic Games where she competed in the summer games in 1996, 2000 and 2008.

The weather could not have been any better Saturday, March 22 for Oakdale Baseball Association’s (OBA) Opening Day celebration. A huge crowd of people soaked up the sun and showed up for the big day at T.L. Davis Sports Complex. Oakdale Mayor Pat Paul threw out the ceremonial first pitch as she threw a strike into catcher Hunter Carver’s glove.

“OBA is a wonderful organization. It’s great to see all the kids having fun and learning. I am honored that they asked me to be a part of it. It is truly amazing to see how big it (OBA) has grown over time,” said Paul.



Rodeo fans from far and near were treated to a wild, action packed weekend as the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) came to town for the 63rd Annual Oakdale Rodeo presented by the Oakdale Saddle Club.

The two-day extravaganza of competition kicked off Saturday afternoon, April 12 as sponsors were honored with plaques for their contributions to the event. Immediately following was a flyover from U.S. military planes as they soared over thousands of rodeo fans and the arena. With the sounds of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” playing, skydiver Kent Lane leaped from a plane in the clear blue sky above and glided downward while holding the American flag, landing expertly in the center of the arena as the song ended. The patriotic act set up the playing of the National Anthem and rodeo fans were ready for some action.

Taking home the All-Around title and coveted championship buckle was Dakota Eldridge of Elko, Nevada as he finished in the money in both steer wrestling and tie down roping.

In a much anticipated Valley Oak League (VOL) showdown that matched up two of the league’s toughest pitcher in Sierra’s Allie Walljasper and Oakdale’s Melinda Koppinger, it was Koppinger and the varsity Lady Mustangs who walked away with an impressive 6-0 home victory on Friday, April 11.

The youngest Mustang baseball boys participated in the Gregori Freshman Easter Tournament in Modesto April 21-23 and took first place. The team was dominant from start to finish, outscoring their opposition 23-2 in the three games.

Oakdale defeated Beyer 6-0 behind pitcher, Michael Juarez’s no-hitter in game one.

“Juarez was fantastic today. He stuck out seven and walked two and only needed 71 pitches to complete the no hitter,” said coach Chris Jackson proudly of the April 21 contest.



For well over 90 years, the rivalry of Oakdale/Sonora high schools has been well known throughout the Valley Oak League. This past week the two schools clashed for the final time in league play, with each time hosting one another in varsity baseball action. Oakdale took both games in dominant fashion. Winning 7-0 at home on Tuesday, April 29, they then headed ‘up the hill’ to take on the Wildcats on Thursday, May 1 where the Mustangs won 13-0 in five innings of play.

Oakdale High School senior and varsity softball ace, Melinda Koppinger recently signed her letter of intent to Ohio Valley University. Koppinger will be majoring in education as she sets her sights on becoming a school teacher. Koppinger will also be continuing her softball career for the OVU Fighting Scots in the Great MidWest Conference starting next season.

The varsity Lady Mustangs softball team ran the gauntlet known as the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Championships and were crowned the 2013-2014 Division 4 Champions on Saturday, May 17 at Arnaiz Softball Complex in Stockton. Oakdale went 4-0 over a three-day span, knocking off Los Banos 17-0, Ceres 11-0, Sierra 5-4 and East Union 3-0 during their postseason quest for the title.

Oakdale High School senior Christina Cobarruvias, a multi-sport athlete, has made it official and will be heading to Oakland to attend Holy Names University. Cobarruvias, the daughter of Philip and Maria Cobarruvias, was signed on a volleyball scholarship and will be a starter for the team.

Both Oakdale’s JV and varsity girls squads took first place honors at the Valley Oak League track and field championships at Sierra High School in Manteca on Saturday, May 10. The boys JV team also took first while the varsity boys claimed fourth.

The women’s varsity dominated as they scored a total of 113 points on the way to claiming their title, as second place Sierra tallied up a score of 75 followed by East Union with 74. The JV girls ran up the competition as they scored 124 points while Lathrop put up 85 for a second place finish and East Union was third with 79. For the JV boys, it was a final score of 180 points for first place, with Manteca finishing second with 104 points and Lathrop third with 79.5. The varsity boys finished fourth behind Sierra, Manteca, and Kimball.



A pair of champions from Oakdale were crowned at Elk Grove High School, as Kyle Peterson and Hannah Chappell brought home the honors from the 2014 CIF Sac-Joaquin Track and Field Masters Meet. Competition was held on May 29 and May 30. “Hannah and Kyle along with their throwers coach Brett Chappell, did an amazing job on Thursday and Friday,” said OHS Athletic Director Dave Bacigalupi. “It is not easy to come into a very competitive competition seeded number one and win. Both of them returning to the State Meet, for the second year in a row, says a lot about their character and their hard work. Oakdale High School, the track team and coaches are very proud of the two of them.”

It’s not even half over and already, 2014 has been a productive year for Oakdale’s Austin Paddock. In May, Paddock graduated from Oakdale High School, and this past week, Paddock was crowned the 2014 Boys Cutting State Champion at the California High School Rodeo (CHSR) State Finals in Bishop, CA. To reach the State Finals, Paddock had to first compete in district events, where the top five students in each event go on to advance to State. There are nine districts in California, Paddock is in District 5. After his successful run in each, district and state level competition, Paddock will now be heading to The National High School Finals Rodeo in Rock Springs, Wyoming from July 13-19. The National Finals doesn’t just include the best of the mainland, but will include students from Hawaii, Alaska, Canada and Australia as well.


Next week, a look at the top sports stories from July through December.