Head coach Troy Steiner and his wrestling team are ready for their first appearance at the Big 12 Championships this weekend as they head to BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“I’m excited to be back in it. Back in the game. I’ve never been to a Big 12 Championships. I grew up in the Big 10,” Steiner said. “So, going into the Big 12 with the likes of Oklahoma State and Oklahoma and Iowa State, it’ll be a great event to be at and be a part of. I’m looking forward to it, but you know we’ve got a job to do, and we’re looking to get as many through to the NCAA Championships as we possibly can.”
Each Fresno State wrestler will be fighting for a spot in the 2018 NCAA Championships and there are only 45 spots open. Each weight class will qualify a different number of wrestlers.
Both redshirt sophomore Khristian Olivas and freshman heavyweight AJ Nevills have an edge, as each has received a No. 3 seed in his weight class.
“It helps them for sure with their bid to get to the NCAA Championships. They both have a bye the first round, [but] they’re still going to have to put some matches together. They can’t really overlook anyone,” Steiner said.
“It doesn’t matter. I mean it puts me in the good side of the bracket, but, in the end, everywhere in the bracket is tough. Just got to go in there and wrestle. It’s a clean slate to prove myself all over again,” he said.
Like Olivas, the rest of the ‘Dogs will be looking to prove themselves all over again as they come off a 1-5 conference record.
“Even though we’ve had some struggles as we went through the season, those struggles prepare you. They prepare your mind. They should help prepare these guys physically, as well,” Steiner said. “[Now] they know what they’re getting into. There’s not anything they should be surprised by.”
The ‘Dogs will be facing off against the likes of West Virginia, Air Force, North Dakota and five-time defending Big 12 Champion Oklahoma State.
The last time Fresno State faced Oklahoma State was Feb. 18 at the Save Mart Center where the ‘Dogs lost 41-0. Despite the loss, Steiner said it doesn’t reflect his team now.
“I don’t look at us as a new team anymore. Our guys aren’t young anymore. They’ve gone through a season. [This is when] you’ll see adjustments starting to happen. That’s what we’re hoping to see,” Steiner said.