The redshirt sophomore is one of the two Bulldog wrestlers representing Fresno State in the NCAA Championships this weekend, and it’s safe to say it was always part of his plan.
He has been wrestling since he was in first grade. His father, Kelvin (former Clovis High wrestler) and uncle, Ralph (former Clovis state champion) got him started.
“They just took me to one of the local clubs, and I just kind of rolled around and it was more like a playground for me, wrestling around. But I quickly just got interested in it,” Olivas said.
In elementary school, Olivas also participated in football, track and volleyball before narrowing it down to football and wrestling in junior high and then “strictly wrestling in high school.”
“Probably because I’m too small for football. My goal as a kid was to go into the NFL, but I’m way too small,” Olivas laughed. “So ever since that, the goal was to get a scholarship to wrestling.”
Specifically, Fresno State wrestling.
“Graduating [high school] I wanted to come to Fresno State. That was always the plan, but they dropped the program. So as soon as I heard it was coming back, there was no way I wasn’t going to be back [with it],” Olivas said.
Before Fresno State, Olivas was a four-year letter winner at Clovis High and during his stint earned CIF State Medalist honors twice to finish third at 138 pounds in his senior year in 2015.
After graduating, Olivas attended Utah Valley. He competed unattached and redshirted while posting a 5-1 record in the season.
Under head coach Troy Steiner, 149-pound Olivas impressed in his first season at Fresno State with a 25-5 overall record, boasting a No. 22 rank by Coaches Panel Ranking and defeating three ranked wrestlers, securing him the No. 3 seed and a bye in the Big 12 Championships’ preliminaries.
Olivas faced off against Oklahoma University’s Davion Jeffries in the quarterfinals. Having defeated him before, 5-4, Olivas just couldn’t do it again.
Fortunately for Olivas, his “solid season” at Fresno State earned him one of six at-large bids to the NCAA Championships.
“I was nervous. After the Big 12, it could’ve been over for me. I would’ve been eating and getting all big, but I had a good idea that I would make it. I stayed strict on my diet still and just planned on making it. I’m going to go the NCAA, and thankfully it worked out,” Olivas said.
Olivas will be joining heavyweight teammate AJ Nevills in Cleveland, Ohio in their first NCAA Championships.
“It is a great start for the program to be sending two wrestlers to the national championships,” Steiner said. “They have both been very consistent all season in competition and that is why they are here.”
Olivas, ready since he was a child.
“I have watched this tournament for so long growing up so it’s very exciting to be apart of it,” Olivas said.
Nevills will go against Duke’s No. 4 ranked Jacob Kasper while Olivas will compete against University of Northern Iowa’s No. 9 ranked Max Thompsen on March 15.
“I’ve been watching him, a lot of film on him,” Olivas said. “And both [assistant coach] Joe Colon and Blaize Cabell are alums from UNI, so they’ve kind of seen him and wrestled with him so they kind of have the inside scoop. They’ve just been working with me every day, and I’m just going to go take it to him.”
If Olivas can get through Thompsen, he may have a rematch with Jeffries, if Jeffries can also get past his first match.
“We’re both 1-1 against each other. We both bring it to the table. It’s a dogfight. It’s an exciting match, and I just look forward to that dogfight every time. But this time I’m gonna come out on top. That’s just the plan,” Olivas said.
Sounds like Olivas has had a plan all along. From wrestling, coming to Fresno State and then to the NCAA Championships, the redshirt sophomore will have more plans to come after this weekend in Cleveland.