If Smokey Bear says ‘Only you can prevent forest fires’, then the nine bronzed beasts captured by Oakdale Wrestling Club grapplers Lilly Freitas, Cesar Garza and Colby Harlan must have a similar message.
Only you could win this many trophies.
The trio of standout youth competitors made an appearance at the Oakdale Leader office on June 5, with nine USA Wrestling state champion Bear trophies and a pair of hefty triple-crown plaques in tow.
Under the immense weight of these accolades, a rickety folding table could hardly … bear it.
The three standouts, under the direction of Oakdale coaches Steve Strange, Nick Chaves, Ben Martinez, Abel Colunga and David Ferry completed the 2013 season with a bear-wildering 11 state titles.
Freitas, an eight-year-old Rose Avenue Elementary School student from Modesto, had the best season of all. She won girls freestyle and folkstyle state, and captured stunning gold from the boys folkstyle, freestyle and Greco-Roman state championships. She was also a SCWAY Western States champion, and earned the coveted USA Wrestling triple-crown for the second time in her career by winning the three boys state championships.
With six state titles, no intermediate wrestler in the 80 to 87 pound division across all California did it better than Freitas.
“I like wrestling because of the throws,” Freitas said with a grin. “In the wrestling room you help each other get better and it is a lot of fun.”
Garza, a Cloverland Elementary student, was also a folkstyle, freestyle and Greco-Roman state champ. He earned three bears to make porridge for, and nabbed his first-ever triple crown honor. The nine year-old competitor in the Intermediate 75 to 80 pound weight class was ecstatic on June 5.
“I like to do what I am good at,” Cesar said. “It’s really fun and you get to hang out with friends. Wrestling makes me stronger.”
At 13, Harlan is the oldest of the bunch. The Oakdale Junior High student captured gold at the 13-15 year-old SCWAY Western States (98 pounds) during the same weekend of folkstyle state, then returned to USA Wrestling in time to nab gold for the 105-pound Schoolboy division. Harlan is a former triple crown winner.
“I love the competition, and how it challenges you,” Harlan said. “You always have to exceed your talent and do better than you were expected to.”