Fresno State wrestler Richie Brandt practicing on Oct. 30, 2017 at the Student Recreation Center. (Alejandro Soto/The Collegian)

Local standout back home

Former local standout wrestler Richie Brandt returned to the mat this season, this time as a Fresno State Bulldog.

Brandt graduated from Liberty High School in Madera Ranchos in 2015. He was one of the top wrestlers in his weight class in 2014 when he was a CIF state finalist as a junior.

After he graduated, Brandt attended Utah Valley University, where he redshirted his first year. Brandt competed independent to his school, however, and posted a 4-4 record at 197 pounds. He transferred to Fresno State after the program was reinstated.

“It’s awesome, I’ve been waiting since my sophomore year in high school when they said they’d come back,” Brandt said before a practice. “I was just super excited when I was at Utah Valley University when I heard they [Fresno State] got the program back.”

Brandt won one of his two matches wrestling at 197 pounds on Nov. 10 in the first two Fresno State duals since 2006.

“He, of all the wrestlers I’ve ever had, and I’ve coached for years, is one that is self-motivated, very tenacious and has been able to always set a goal and get to that place,” said Brandt’s former high school coach, Jason Napier. “His work ethic is above most of any other kid I’ve worked with.”

Fresno State head coach Troy Steiner only had positive words about Brandt.

“He’s a great kid,” Steiner said. “He’s always here and willing to work, he’s kind of like a silent warrior.”

Along with his teammates, Brandt looks to lead the storied program back to the forefront of Central Valley sports.

The ‘Dogs open at home against Illinois on Friday at 7 p.m.