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.
â€œIf you have a club and then a team, itâ€™s a little different than if you had a team that is reduced to a club,â€ DeLiddo said. â€œThe guys arenâ€™t quite as interested.â€
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.
â€œIf youâ€™re a real good wrestler, you went to another school,â€ DeLiddo said. â€œWe have a bunch of guys working out. Weâ€™re hoping to get the team back before we really worry about the club.â€
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.
â€œIf they pass the referendum, why canâ€™t they include us?â€ 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.
â€œWe have some kind of funds, but pretty much weâ€™re on our own,â€ Carlson said. â€œWeâ€™re trying to bring it back through the referendum. The student body agreed to help us out.â€
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.
â€œA lot of the guys are working out at high schools, a lot of the guys coach high school kids,â€ DeLiddo said. â€œThatâ€™s the other thing that people donâ€™t realize is that it is an educational thing. A lot of the guys go on to coach.â€
Carlson is one of those coaches.
â€œIâ€™ve been coaching at Ahwahnee Middle School and Hoover High School,â€ Carlson said. He said that some of the other wrestlers coach also.
DeLiddo said he is obsessed with getting wrestling back because itâ€™s good for the student-athletes and the community.
â€œWeâ€™ve offered to be self-funded, with no scholarships, so I really donâ€™t understand why thereâ€™s a holdup,â€ DeLiddo said.
DeLiddo said that he refuses to go away and that heâ€™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.
â€œI know thereâ€™s a lot of pressure to get wrestling back because itâ€™s big in the Valley,â€ DeLiddo said. â€œThere were something like 30 state medals from high school wrestlers in the Central Valley this year.â€
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 â€œnumerous sports that have an important place within the culture of the Valley â€” and Fresno State sponsors teams in many of them.â€
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.
â€œThe student handbook, the guidelines for the California State University system say to serve the needs of the community,â€ DeLiddo said. â€œWhy arenâ€™t they serving the community? As we know, thereâ€™s not a great demand for womenâ€™s lacrosse.â€
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.
â€œIâ€™m very passionate about my sport; I spent 24 years coaching,â€ DeLiddo said. â€œMy retirement was supposed to be watching Fresno State wrestling. My retirement wasnâ€™t supposed to be fighting to get it back. But Iâ€™ll do what it takes.â€