Sophomore wrestler Isaiah Hokit during media day on Oct. 10, 2017. (Nugesse Ghebrendrias/ The Collegian)

Media day for winter sports creates buzz

Media day for the upcoming men’s basketball and wrestling seasons took place Tuesday at the Save Mart Center, and it’s safe to say, there is a buzz generating around both teams.

The men’s basketball head coach Rodney Terry is preparing to build off a 20-13 record and an impressive 13-2 at home, while newly appointed wrestling coach Troy Steiner starts from scratch.

Basketball:

Although the ‘Dogs basketball team had a winning record, the team finished fourth last year with a record of 11-7 in the Mountain West Conference.

Losing three of their seniors, Karachi Edo, Paul Watson and Cullen Russo, the team is in safe hands.

With leading scorers Jaron Hopkins and Deshone Taylor returning to the fold, the ‘Dogs’ punch remains. In fact, sophomore Bryson Williams’ development is a key storyline moving forward.

It opens its exhibition series on Oct. 30 against Pacific Union College before it jets off to Mexico for two weeks to feature in the 2017 Cancun Challenge.

Wrestling:

Creating a foundation for a successful wrestling program starts with a vision, Steiner said.

“It is like life in a lot of ways, there are struggles,” Steiner said before their first practice. “Bringing a new program back in this first year recruiting, we have nothing to sell, no facilities, no workout partners and a lot of it was Coach Israel Silva and myself and really selling the vision of this program.”

The 19 athlete roster will be consisting of 14 freshman, three sophomores and two juniors. Most of those freshmen are transfers from other collegiate programs.

AJ Nevills, a Clovis High grad and former Penn State Nittany Lion, returns home.

“Personally, I am very excited to be back out on the mat competing,” Nevills said. “We have a lot of fans who are excited to see what kind of team we have and we want to go out there and put on a show for them.”

His teammate, Isaiah Hokit, revealed his excitement for the program after 11 years.

“It is very exciting,” Hokit said. “Being from this area, I know a lot of people are really excited about it coming back. I know we will get a lot of other people from around the state of California to come out and support as well.”

The ‘Dogs’ opener on Nov. 17 against Illinois is a date everyone is looking forward to, Nevills said.

“It’s on the front of my mind everyday and I can’t wait to get out there and compete.”