Fresno State returns to the NCAA championships

Redshirt sophomore Khristian Olivas wrestling University of Northern Iowa's Max Thompsen in the NCAA Wrestling Championships on March 15, 2018. (Fresno State Athletics)

The long-awaited return to the NCAA Wrestling Championships for the Fresno State wrestling team came to an end last Friday morning.

The program had been on an 11-year hiatus. Redshirt sophomore Khristian Olivas and freshman heavyweight AJ Nevills represented the ‘Dogs at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, from March 15-16.

“It was a neat thing for the sport,” said head coach Troy Steiner. “Obviously, for Fresno State it is big, but it’s big for the sport, as well.”

Olivas was the first to wrestle, matching up against No. 9 seed Max Thomsen of Northern Iowa in the 149-pound class.

Olivas was quick to take a 4-2 lead with a takedown and a two-point near fall, but Thomsen answered back with seven straight points in the second period, taking the lead 9-4. In the end, Olivas fell to the consolation rounds after a 13-5 loss to the returning All-American Thomsen.

Nevills was next to wrestle Thursday morning. Facing off against No. 4 national seed Jacob Kasper of Duke, Nevills was able to keep it close and trailed 1-0 by the end of the second period.

But entering the third period, Kasper was able to turn Nevills for the fall in the seventh minute, knocking Nevills to the consolation rounds.

Olivas next got things started as he squared off against Oklahoma’s Davion Jeffries for the third time this season. Splitting the first two periods, Olivas was able to come out on top, with an 11-9 victory.

As for Nevills, his campaign came to an end after an 8-4 loss to Edinboro’s William Miller. The freshman ended his season with a 28-10 record and was the leader of the ‘Dogs with 11 falls.

Olivas continued his campaign into Friday morning facing off against seventh-seed Ryan Deakin of Northwestern. With a 32-7 overall record and sixth place title at the Big 12 Championships, Deakin came in hot with a quick takedown seconds into the match.

Deakin continued his reign as he led 13-0 in the second period before allowing Olivas to an escape and a presence on the board. The redshirt freshman ended the short-lived celebration with a takedown and riding time to end the match 16-1.

Olivas leaves the national stage with a 27-9 overall record while collecting 10 wins by decision, nine by major decision, five falls and one technical fall.

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