May 23, 2019
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Air Force's John Twomey and Fresno State's Gary Joint. Image taken at the Big 12 Wrestling Championship, Saturday, March 09, 2019, BOK Center, Tulsa, OK. Brett Rojo/For The Big 12 Conference

Bulldogs finish 5th at Big 12 Championships; send 5 to NCAA Championships

The Fresno State wrestling team had a decent showing at the 2019 Big 12 Championship tournament, as the team finished fifth with a total of 59.5 points, including six Bulldogs finishing in the top-six of their weight classes at the Bank of Oklahoma Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Five Bulldogs earned automatic qualifications for the 2019 NCAA Championships tournament in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on March 21-23. Redshirt freshman Gary Joint (133 lbs.) and Jackson Hemauer (184 lbs.) earned NCAA berths on Sunday. The pair will join Khristian Olivas (149 lbs.), Josh Hokit (197 lbs.) and AJ Nevills (Heavyweight), who earned their berths on Saturday.

Nevills had the best showing for the Bulldogs after winning both his quarterfinal and semifinal matchups by decisions for his second straight Big 12 heavyweight finals appearance on Sunday.

On Sunday, Nevills was matched up once more against with his 2018 finals opponent, top-seeded Derek White of Oklahoma State, looking to avenge his 13-6 loss from a year ago.

Unfortunately for Nevills, 2019 would have the same result. He fell once more to White, this time by a 20-5 technical fall, having to settle with a second-place finish. The loss was Nevills’ seventh of the season, and he will enter the NCAA Championships with a 21-7 overall record.

The ‘Dogs entered Sunday with five wrestlers, including Joint, Hemauer, Olivas, Hokit and redshirt freshman Jacob Wright (157 lbs.) fighting for a third-place match in the consolation brackets. Only Hokit was able to advance with a pin fall victory over Utah Valley University’s fourth-seeded Tanner Orndorff in 2:54.

Hokit would not be able to carry the moment over to the third-place match. He was defeated by fifth-seeded Jake Woodley of Oklahoma in a 3-2 decision, giving Hokit a fourth-place finish, his sixth loss of the season and moving his record to 21-6 overall.

Wright, Hemauer, Joint and Olivas fifth-place matchups for the Bulldogs, with Wright, Hemauer and Joint winning by decisions.

Both Joint and Hemauer needed wins in order to lock up automatic bids to the NCAA Championships. They both succeeded with Joint’s major decision win over Jack Skudlarczyk of University of Northern Iowa and Hemauer avenging a loss on Saturday with a 4-2 victory over fourth-seeded Tate Samuelson of Wyoming.

Olivas had to leave his opening consolation matchup with an injury, causing him to medically forfeit against sixth-seeded Davion Jefferies of Oklahoma and giving him a sixth-place finish.

Luckily for Olivas, he had been able to notch his bid to the NCAA Championships on Saturday.

In a quote from Fresno State Athletics, head coach Troy Steiner attributed the whole group’s effort for the success of the ‘Dogs’ performance over the weekend.

“It is everyone doing the work every day, and it is such a fun group to coach because of the effort they put into it,” Steiner said.

The complete brackets for the 2019 NCAA Championships will be released today at 3 p.m. on the NCAA website and will show who the Bulldogs will stack up against in Pittsburgh on March 21-23.

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