With the Fresno State wrestling recruits pinned for their resurgent program’s season set to begin in late 2017, the fate of the current Fresno State men’s wrestling club could quite possibly be in a chokehold.
But new head wrestling coach Tony Steiner said, “I don’t think our program will threaten the thriving wrestling club program. If anything, I think it can help the club and really help the entire Valley and state because some of these wrestlers will go on and teach and coach in the future.”
Club co-founder Jovany Gonzalez, a fifth-year graphic design major, had one word to say about the re-emergence of the university’s wrestling program: amazing.
“It’s a great opportunity for people to continue wrestling at the college level,” Gonzalez said.
With only six — including Fresno State — collegiate wrestling programs at four-year universities in California, Gonzalez said, that is exactly what club wrestling is — an opportunity.
“Club wrestling is like that little transition period of the in-between of you want to wrestle at the four-year level, but you still want to continue your education,” Gonzalez said. “A lot of these guys have jobs. A lot of these guys have majors that had they been in a four-year program, they wouldn’t have been able to do”
Founded in 2013, the wrestling club has served as a continuation for high school wrestlers turned college students who want mat time without the Division I commitment.
“It’s such a time commitment to wrestle at the D-I level or any level,” Gonzalez said. “We have guys that just want to wrestle past high school and guys that never made it out of their league tournament, so this is a great avenue for them to continue wrestling, but not commit too much time to it.”
Armando Manzo, a freshman biology major, is planning to try out for the new wrestling team, but has faith the club will not fold.
“If we have a good president, it’ll keep on going,” Manzo said.
Because of the team’s roster cap, Steiner said, it would be difficult to allow club members to gain a spot on the roster because most of the student-athletes are recruited. He said that if he feels someone in the club is at a Division I level, they could possibly make the roster.
Gonzalez and Manzo said the club is great for potential student-athletes to train and gain mat time in the future before the wrestling season starts.