Saturday, Dec. 8 saw plenty of talented high school wresters from across California compete at the 43rd annual James Riddle Classic in Oakdale. The host Mustangs took third place overall in the tourney behind De La Salle and Bakersfield inside Oakdale High School’s main gym. As a team Oakdale scored a total of 171.5 and first place De La Salle scored 234.5. Over 300 wrestlers and nearly three dozen schools battled in the tournament.
In the annual home wrestling meet, three Mustangs took first place honors: Michael Torres, Brayden Abell and Gabe Martinez. Ricky Torres took second place and third place honors went to Ceasar Garza.
Michael Torres (106) is a freshman and is off to a 7-0 start to the season. On Saturday he defeated De La Salle’s Bobby Cuevas in the finals. The two freshmen battled it out but it was Torres who earned a second period fall with 19 seconds remaining in the period.
“I just wanted to come out and help the team in points. It was a great feeling competing at home,” said Torres.
For the second time in as many weeks, sophomore Abell earned a first place medal. The 113-pound state qualifier from last season has his sights set for a return to Bakersfield and has found early success this season. Abell improved to 7-0 after defeating Yousuf Zigan of Durham in the finals, 10-2. The Mustang grappler led 2-0 after the first period and wore Zigan down in the second period to score six more points. In the third period Abell scored another takedown late to put the match away.
Martinez, a senior, competes at 182 pounds and defeated Franklin’s Malik Lewis in the finals. Martinez improved to 7-0 this year after defeating Lewis 6-2. After a scoreless first period, Martinez turned up his intensity in the second period outscoring Lewis 3-2 and posted three more points in the final period.
Ricky Torres, a senior who wrestles at 145 pounds, suffered a devastating finals loss. It was his first loss of the season (7-1) as he fell to Bakersfield’s Andrew Bloemhof. Torres took a 2-0 advantage into the second period and earned one more point in the second to go up 3-0. With a 3-1 lead with 30 seconds to go; Bloemhof scored six unanswered points to defeat Torres.
Garza placed third overall in the 132-pound division. The freshman won in a thrilling overtime over Jake Bergstrom from Foothill. Garza took a 2-0 lead in the first period, and the two grapplers were tied at three after the second. A scoreless third period set up the overtime and it was Garza who won the match on a takedown.
“It was a crazy match, but I felt good heading into it and heading into the tournament itself,” said Garza.
Other medalists from Oakdale were Clayton Bashor (126 pounds, fourth place) and Justin Jericoff (160 pounds, fourth place).