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Wrestling wants back in

By | April 11, 2008 | Sports (4)
Former Fresno State wrestler Shane Seibert (above left) during his 165-pound match in 2005 at the Save Mart Center against the University of Iowa. Seibert transferred to the University of Oklahoma after the program folded.
File photo by Juan Villa / The Collegian

A red and blue mat sits in a Bullard High School room off Barstow Ave., five miles west of where it resided two years ago.

Only half of the Fresno State wrestling mat is in the Bullard wrestling room. It is a half-circle and for Bullard High School, the mat is a welcome improvement.

It is ironic, especially for former Fresno State wrestling coach Dennis DeLiddo, who graduated from Bullard High School.

DeLiddo is still vigorous in his attempts to bring Division I wrestling back to Fresno State.

Currently, wrestling is only a club at Fresno State, with limited funding and decreased interest.

“If you have a club and then a team, it’s a little different than if you had a team that is reduced to a club,” DeLiddo said. “The guys aren’t quite as interested.”

There still is a team, although the organization and support is much more difficult for the wrestlers.

The club is a far cry from the days before June 2006, when the program was cut by Fresno State Athletic Director Thomas Boeh.

The program even produced an Olympian, Stephen Abas, in 2004.

Most of the top Fresno State wrestlers left after the announcement that the program would be cut for 2007.

“If you’re a real good wrestler, you went to another school,” DeLiddo said. “We have a bunch of guys working out. We’re hoping to get the team back before we really worry about the club.”

This past February, there were two wrestlers that qualified for the national championships but did not place.

For the most part, the Fresno State club wrestlers have to rely on their own funding to travel.

Senior kinesiology major Sean Carlson was on the team for three years as a 133-pounder before it was cut.

He has spent the past two years with DeLiddo trying to get the sport reinstated.

Carlson is the president of the wrestling club and is still very motivated to get the sport back.

DeLiddo said that he had wrestlers out at Fresno State talking to people about the student referendum.

“If they pass the referendum, why can’t they include us?” DeLiddo said.

Carlson was standing out all alone at Fresno State on Tuesday, holding a sign asking for support from Fresno State students on the referendum.

“We have some kind of funds, but pretty much we’re on our own,” Carlson said. “We’re trying to bring it back through the referendum. The student body agreed to help us out.”

The referendum was not passed by Fresno State students in the election this past week by a vote of 777-412.

The team has had to resort to wrestling against community colleges and practicing at high schools, something that has been difficult to coordinate.

Still, members of the team work out individually, hoping to win back the sport through attrition.

“A lot of the guys are working out at high schools, a lot of the guys coach high school kids,” DeLiddo said. “That’s the other thing that people don’t realize is that it is an educational thing. A lot of the guys go on to coach.”

Carlson is one of those coaches.

“I’ve been coaching at Ahwahnee Middle School and Hoover High School,” Carlson said. He said that some of the other wrestlers coach also.

DeLiddo said he is obsessed with getting wrestling back because it’s good for the student-athletes and the community.

“We’ve offered to be self-funded, with no scholarships, so I really don’t understand why there’s a holdup,” DeLiddo said.

DeLiddo said that he refuses to go away and that he’s going to keep fighting to get it back. He said it is because of the kids.

There are hundreds of students involved in wrestling, just in Clovis Unified.

“I know there’s a lot of pressure to get wrestling back because it’s big in the Valley,” DeLiddo said. “There were something like 30 state medals from high school wrestlers in the Central Valley this year.”

The Fresno State athletic department stated in December 2006 that the decision to cut wrestling was not a Title IX consideration.

Also, Fresno State said there are “numerous sports that have an important place within the culture of the Valley — and Fresno State sponsors teams in many of them.”

Fresno State saved approximately $400,000 out of an athletic budget of over $22 million after cutting wrestling. In 2006, the athletic department said that the net financial savings would not be fully realized until this year.

This year, the Fresno State athletic department had no comment.

DeLiddo sees Fresno State only following some of their own rules.

“The student handbook, the guidelines for the California State University system say to serve the needs of the community,” DeLiddo said. “Why aren’t they serving the community? As we know, there’s not a great demand for women’s lacrosse.”

DeLiddo stated that wrestling was one of the original sports in the Olympics. He said that Fresno State has always had wrestling. For the past two years though, that has been largely untrue.

“I’m very passionate about my sport; I spent 24 years coaching,” DeLiddo said. “My retirement was supposed to be watching Fresno State wrestling. My retirement wasn’t supposed to be fighting to get it back. But I’ll do what it takes.”

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36 Responses to Wrestling wants back in

  1. Mary says:

    Great Job Coach D.

    I hope you don’t give up. I’ve lived in Clovis all my life and wrestling is part of our culture. My brothers wrested, my father wrestled and my boyfriend.
    Its just a great sport and builds character
    Good Luck

  2. Mary says:

    Great Job Coach D.

    I hope you don’t give up. I’ve lived in Clovis all my life and wrestling is part of our culture. My brothers wrested, my father wrestled and my boyfriend.
    Its just a great sport and builds character
    Good Luck

  3. Cindy McAlester says:

    Coach D…. you are the Coach V of wrestling….. NEVER GIVE UP…
    You are teaching our kids to never give up.. not only on the mat but in life… This sport is so much more than just wrestling!! Life lessons that they will never forget! We need wrestling back!!!

  4. Cindy McAlester says:

    Coach D…. you are the Coach V of wrestling….. NEVER GIVE UP…
    You are teaching our kids to never give up.. not only on the mat but in life… This sport is so much more than just wrestling!! Life lessons that they will never forget! We need wrestling back!!!

  5. M ARAGON says:

    I saw what happened to the high school wrestling in the Central Coast Section when San Jose State dropped its wrestling program. The overall quality of competition dropped tremendously. As coaches retired there were only walk on coaches with little or no previous experience. If it were not for the few veteran coaches like Coach Gonzales at Gilroy, Coach Kerr and Coach Olenak at San Benito to name a few, the CCS would not have any placers at the State meet. What happens when they retire? I hate to think about it.

    Wake up Fresno State Administrators, saving a few dollars will eventually affect your whole community.

    Manuel
    Retired Teacher and Wrestling Coach

  6. M ARAGON says:

    I saw what happened to the high school wrestling in the Central Coast Section when San Jose State dropped its wrestling program. The overall quality of competition dropped tremendously. As coaches retired there were only walk on coaches with little or no previous experience. If it were not for the few veteran coaches like Coach Gonzales at Gilroy, Coach Kerr and Coach Olenak at San Benito to name a few, the CCS would not have any placers at the State meet. What happens when they retire? I hate to think about it.

    Wake up Fresno State Administrators, saving a few dollars will eventually affect your whole community.

    Manuel
    Retired Teacher and Wrestling Coach

  7. Ketih Niggor says:

    The A.D. and President are nothing but criminals. They dictate what sports are needed instead of the sports that are commonly played in the area. Womens lax is not a common sport in the area, but wrestling is. There was a strong tradition. The A.D. and President will not learn until something drastic happens to them.

  8. Ketih Niggor says:

    The A.D. and President are nothing but criminals. They dictate what sports are needed instead of the sports that are commonly played in the area. Womens lax is not a common sport in the area, but wrestling is. There was a strong tradition. The A.D. and President will not learn until something drastic happens to them.

  9. Jeremy Carlson says:

    I think that it is embarassing to the community that their own college, who
    they support and stand behind, does not recognize wrestling as one of their sports. I grew up in a little town in the Valley and my coach always tooks us to the matches at Fresno State and always told us that if we were good enough we could wrestle at Fresno State. This is program has an impact on the entire central valley and with it not being there many kids are simply not willing to work as hard. One of the greatest wrestlers in American history, Stephen Abas, went to Fresno State. This is something people need to realize and get behind. Cancelling this program is taking away a piece of the community and spirit of the University.

  10. Jeremy Carlson says:

    I think that it is embarassing to the community that their own college, who
    they support and stand behind, does not recognize wrestling as one of their sports. I grew up in a little town in the Valley and my coach always tooks us to the matches at Fresno State and always told us that if we were good enough we could wrestle at Fresno State. This is program has an impact on the entire central valley and with it not being there many kids are simply not willing to work as hard. One of the greatest wrestlers in American history, Stephen Abas, went to Fresno State. This is something people need to realize and get behind. Cancelling this program is taking away a piece of the community and spirit of the University.

  11. Chris says:

    I am going to be writing a formal proposal for one of my classes to bring back the CSU Fresno wrestling program. I would like anyone who has credible sources on the issues to drop me some info at (cmsouza3@csufresno.edu) My Brother in law Marcio Botelho wrestled for the program and gave everything he had for it. I know there are plenty of others who are willing to do the same. Being a wrestler in high school I know what responsibilities wrestling teaches youngsters and want to help get the program back before our future bulldogs have to venture somewhere else.
    Thanks

  12. Chris says:

    I am going to be writing a formal proposal for one of my classes to bring back the CSU Fresno wrestling program. I would like anyone who has credible sources on the issues to drop me some info at (cmsouza3@csufresno.edu) My Brother in law Marcio Botelho wrestled for the program and gave everything he had for it. I know there are plenty of others who are willing to do the same. Being a wrestler in high school I know what responsibilities wrestling teaches youngsters and want to help get the program back before our future bulldogs have to venture somewhere else.
    Thanks

  13. Darrick Duran says:

    I am thoroughly impressed with the comments I hear from everyone and the fight left in Coach D. to stand up in what he believes in and lives by. Coach Deliddo, you and the entire Fresno State wrestling family, thank you. Wrestling did more for me towards career and life advancement than my entire set of academic classes at Fresno State combined. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the core values I learned through my years as a Bulldog. Keep the fight alive, HOOAH.

    Captain Darrick N. Duran, USAF
    380th Expeditionary Medical Group,
    Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates

  14. Darrick Duran says:

    I am thoroughly impressed with the comments I hear from everyone and the fight left in Coach D. to stand up in what he believes in and lives by. Coach Deliddo, you and the entire Fresno State wrestling family, thank you. Wrestling did more for me towards career and life advancement than my entire set of academic classes at Fresno State combined. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the core values I learned through my years as a Bulldog. Keep the fight alive, HOOAH.

    Captain Darrick N. Duran, USAF
    380th Expeditionary Medical Group,
    Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates

  15. Carlos says:

    Coach D.

    Great Job, Im glad to hear u are still fighting to get the wrestling program back. Hopefully you will be able to bring it back. Dont know if u know or not but u have alot of support in the southern part of the valley who just love the sport. The central valley has had and will continue to have great wrestlers, they need to bring the program back so these kids could stay in the valley to wrestle.

  16. Carlos says:

    Coach D.

    Great Job, Im glad to hear u are still fighting to get the wrestling program back. Hopefully you will be able to bring it back. Dont know if u know or not but u have alot of support in the southern part of the valley who just love the sport. The central valley has had and will continue to have great wrestlers, they need to bring the program back so these kids could stay in the valley to wrestle.

  17. Johnaton says:

    I am glad to see someone is still fighting for the program. We need a program for the valley. Wrestling is getting stronger and stronger here in the smaller towns in the central valley, rivaling football and our kids need a higher level to reach for, I missed the opportunity to wrestle in high school and now I work with a small club and travel to tournaments with the kids. I am sure there are many many others that will back you.

  18. Johnaton says:

    I am glad to see someone is still fighting for the program. We need a program for the valley. Wrestling is getting stronger and stronger here in the smaller towns in the central valley, rivaling football and our kids need a higher level to reach for, I missed the opportunity to wrestle in high school and now I work with a small club and travel to tournaments with the kids. I am sure there are many many others that will back you.

  19. jason calvert says:

    im glad to see people want wrestling back close to home because then more great wrestlers from the valley that want to stay in the area a place to wrestle instead of going out of state or to programs that are not as strong as fresno’s was and coach d hope to see you back there because i really enjoyed watching some of my friends wrestle there like marcio botelho good luck

  20. jason calvert says:

    im glad to see people want wrestling back close to home because then more great wrestlers from the valley that want to stay in the area a place to wrestle instead of going out of state or to programs that are not as strong as fresno’s was and coach d hope to see you back there because i really enjoyed watching some of my friends wrestle there like marcio botelho good luck

  21. ADT says:

    We keep talking about our fresno State wrestling team that we loved but when we had it very rarely would it sell out seats we did not do a very good job of supporting our team I think that was one of the reasons the program was dropped. If- (better Yet) when our Bullbog Wrestling team comes back we need to make sure we are there on the bleacher seats supporting. We have a very strong wrestling community in the central velley and our kids need to have something to look forward to.
    Thank You kindly Mr. DeLiddo your hard work and dedication to your community.

  22. ADT says:

    We keep talking about our fresno State wrestling team that we loved but when we had it very rarely would it sell out seats we did not do a very good job of supporting our team I think that was one of the reasons the program was dropped. If- (better Yet) when our Bullbog Wrestling team comes back we need to make sure we are there on the bleacher seats supporting. We have a very strong wrestling community in the central velley and our kids need to have something to look forward to.
    Thank You kindly Mr. DeLiddo your hard work and dedication to your community.

  23. ADT says:

    We keep talking about our fresno State wrestling team that we loved but when we had it very rarely would it sell out seats we did not do a very good job of supporting our team I think that was one of the reasons the program was dropped. If- (better Yet) when our Bullbog Wrestling team comes back we need to make sure we are there on the bleacher seats supporting. We have a very strong wrestling community in the central velley and our kids need to have something to look forward to.
    Thank You kindly Mr. DeLiddo for your hard work and dedication to your community.

  24. ADT says:

    We keep talking about our fresno State wrestling team that we loved but when we had it very rarely would it sell out seats we did not do a very good job of supporting our team I think that was one of the reasons the program was dropped. If- (better Yet) when our Bullbog Wrestling team comes back we need to make sure we are there on the bleacher seats supporting. We have a very strong wrestling community in the central velley and our kids need to have something to look forward to.
    Thank You kindly Mr. DeLiddo for your hard work and dedication to your community.

  25. Mark O'Connor says:

    Don’t give up the fight for the program. Wrestling is one of the best sports in the world. If it isn’t Title IX then explain why it has been cut.

  26. Mark O'Connor says:

    Don’t give up the fight for the program. Wrestling is one of the best sports in the world. If it isn’t Title IX then explain why it has been cut.

  27. dw says:

    It’s primarily money and image.

    The athletic program is a money loser and hasn’t broken even in 10 of the last 11 years, and it looks like, even with the new student fee, it won’t this year either. Thomas Boeh has made it very clear, Fresno State will go down to Division II if the finances don’t improve (he said that last spring before the ASI election). That translates to no WAC membership, and it’s likely we would end up in the Big Sky Conference.

    The image problems revolved around academic performance (which reportedly was worse than the men’s basketball program) and persistent criminal behavior by a few of the kids. Before anyone asks why, given all the problems men’s basketball has had in those areas, that program wasn’t dropped, the WAC requires member schools to field men’s basketball–thus there was no option to drop that sport.

  28. dw says:

    It’s primarily money and image.

    The athletic program is a money loser and hasn’t broken even in 10 of the last 11 years, and it looks like, even with the new student fee, it won’t this year either. Thomas Boeh has made it very clear, Fresno State will go down to Division II if the finances don’t improve (he said that last spring before the ASI election). That translates to no WAC membership, and it’s likely we would end up in the Big Sky Conference.

    The image problems revolved around academic performance (which reportedly was worse than the men’s basketball program) and persistent criminal behavior by a few of the kids. Before anyone asks why, given all the problems men’s basketball has had in those areas, that program wasn’t dropped, the WAC requires member schools to field men’s basketball–thus there was no option to drop that sport.

  29. Brian Spalliero says:

    Keep trying, don’t give up Coach DeLiddo. You have supporters around the world.

    Wrestling is a sport at the heart of the culture of the valley. This is evident in the level of quality wrestlers that are produced by all the local high schools and freestyle programs. Of all the collegiate sports in the valley wrestling has been one of the most prominent.

    If finances are so hard then why doesn’t Fresno State consider cutting some funding to the multi-million dollar Football and Basketball programs that continually under perform. They are obviously not garnering the ticket sales and support to justify there high cost. Wrestling at Fresno was unquestionably more successful than either of the aforementioned programs, having multiple national champions in division 1 athletics. So apparently success and support were not factored into value of the program. The cost analysis performed on the program the year it was cut showed that boosters provided more than enough funding for the program. So again, why was the program cut? Really, why?

    Coach DeLiddo, I hope you know that even though we aren’t there for you in presence, we are thinking about you and supporting you. You make us proud to be Fresno State Wrestlers, please don’t give up.

    Brian Spalliero
    COB Speicher, Iraq

  30. Brian Spalliero says:

    Keep trying, don’t give up Coach DeLiddo. You have supporters around the world.

    Wrestling is a sport at the heart of the culture of the valley. This is evident in the level of quality wrestlers that are produced by all the local high schools and freestyle programs. Of all the collegiate sports in the valley wrestling has been one of the most prominent.

    If finances are so hard then why doesn’t Fresno State consider cutting some funding to the multi-million dollar Football and Basketball programs that continually under perform. They are obviously not garnering the ticket sales and support to justify there high cost. Wrestling at Fresno was unquestionably more successful than either of the aforementioned programs, having multiple national champions in division 1 athletics. So apparently success and support were not factored into value of the program. The cost analysis performed on the program the year it was cut showed that boosters provided more than enough funding for the program. So again, why was the program cut? Really, why?

    Coach DeLiddo, I hope you know that even though we aren’t there for you in presence, we are thinking about you and supporting you. You make us proud to be Fresno State Wrestlers, please don’t give up.

    Brian Spalliero
    COB Speicher, Iraq

  31. Pat McGee says:

    Dennis, keep at it. I hope wrestling is brought back to Fresno State. It is a shame that Fresno State does not have a program when it is in the middle of a wrestling hotbed.

  32. Frankie says:

    Im a wrestler, in the central valley, i started last year, and many other kids had the advantege because my middle school didnt have wrestling. I think that if Fresno State were to get its wrestling program back it could help the future of many student-athletes because they may choose to stay in the cental valley and still want to wrestle. I know many wrestlers that are really good, but had to go to a community college because they wanted to wrestle close to home. If community colleges can afford it so should fresno state.

  33. Dustin Eastman says:

    I thought cali was tough when I wrestled but this new breed has the talent to build a dynasty that all others will b measured by. and easily could start with FSU wrestling . keep go n forward coach. and lets keep the talent n cali……

  34. Dustin Eastman says:

    have the abas brothers coaching …. imagine that, we’d dominate the wrestling world!

  35. FRESNO STATE WRESTLING IS A MUST! BORN BREAD TILL THE DAY WE ARE DEAD

  36. Pat McGee says:

    I hope Castro is serious about bringing back wrestling. The Clovis area is the best in the state regarding wrestling. It is a shame that there is not a program at FSU. I live in Minnesota now and people back here are familiar with the program FSU once had.

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