Wrestling Roundup: Oakdale takes home top prize at Tim Brown

Ron Agostini

The Tim Brown Memorial wrapped up its two-day program last weekend with one remaining title match, and the crowd at Cal Expo surrounded the mat for the big finish.

It didn’t disappoint.

Oakdale High sophomore Ceasar Garza and Rocky Raby of West Valley engaged in a thrilling 152-pound final that left fans thoroughly entertained. Garza, who trailed 6-1, surged from behind and scored a takedown in the final seconds for an 11-10 victory.

“Garza was favored, but (Raby) was really hustling. It was two kids really getting after it,” Oakdale coach Steve Strange said. “Ceasar had to take him down three straight times. It was one of the best regular-season matches I’ve seen in a while.”

Garza, ranked fifth in the state at 152 in The California Wrestler’s latest rankings, climaxed a successful Tim Brown for the Mustangs. Oakdale was crowned the team champion, thanks to titles by Garza, Michael Torres (106), Clayton Bashor (126) and Seth Borba (152). Oakdale went 4-for-4 in the finals. Thirds by freshmen Alan Casey (113) and Jonathan Hernandez (120) added to the point total.

Turlock also acquitted itself well by placing fourth. Adrian Heras (132), a defending Sac-Joaquin Section Masters champion, pinned all opponents in his bracket and William Giron (126) picked up a third. The Bulldogs, developing young talent this season under veteran coach Mike Contreras, are loaded in the lightweights with Heras, Giron, Gustalvo Bonilla (120) and Egberto Davalos (113).

The Bulldogs will be at the CIT this weekend at Morro Bay, and there’s a chance for an early showdown between Heras and the state’s No. 2-ranked 132-pounder Wayne Joint of Lemoore.  Heras dropped two close matches to Joint last season.

Wrestler of the Week – Sierra senior Alexa Garcia captured the 189-pound title at the 22nd Napa Valley Girls Classic, the country’s oldest and largest girls tournament. It will be a memorable season for Garcia, a 2019 Masters runner-up who placed sixth at the CIF State Championships at Bakersfield.

Thirds were earned by Pitman’s Lillian Avalos (111) and Oakdale’s Valerie Osborne (170). Placing fourth were Turlock’s Hailey Ward (101), Leilani Martinez of Central Catholic (131, Aliana Lefotu of Golden Valley (137) and Janida Garcia of Lathrop (121).

Notes – Escalon football star Luke Anderson, a junior who did not wrestle last season, pleased the home crowd by winning the 222-pound title at the annual Engel. Seeded sixth, Anderson practiced for barely a week before his successful run. Teammate Brad Hagglund won at 160. … Bad news: The National Federation of State High School Associations reported a state participation dropoff in boys wrestling to 22,441, down from 27,301 five years ago.  Good news: Bret Harte, a former mat power, hosted its first home meet Wednesday night in six years. The Bullfrogs are reviving their program, and the loss that night to Sonora hardly dulled the excitement. Bret Harte junior Kodiak Stephens, ranked sixth in the state at 182, won by forfeit. …

Grace Davis shined with three weight-class champions, including lightweights MVP Aiden Garcia (109), at the 19th Mat Classic last weekend at Livermore’s Granada High. John Valdez (123) and Carson Prim (120) also won their respective brackets for the Spartans. … Turlock has received an 11th-hour invitation to the first State Dual Meet Championship, an unofficial event Jan. 25 at Clovis North. Turlock will be slotted into Division 3, one of the four eight-team brackets. Oakdale is a D-2 entry. … Coming up: The Robert Hatler on Saturday at Sonora.