The Fresno State wrestling season came to an end Saturday as the final day of the 2019 NCAA Championships at the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Of the five wrestlers selected for the Bulldogs to compete in the NCAA tournament, the weekend was highlighted by the fifth place finish of 197-pounder Josh Hokit.
Hokit was the only Bulldog to compete on Saturday, after coming off a successful Friday, clinching a top-six finish and securing All-American honors. With four victories in the consolation bracket Friday, he faced off against No. 4-seeded Patrick Brucki of Princeton and No. 6-seed Willie Mikius of Iowa State.
In the opening bout of the consolation semifinal, Hokit found himself being taken down early on, but Hokit was able to keep the matchup close, scoring an escape for one point, plus a locking hands call, finishing the first period tied up at 2-2. But with the addition of two more takedowns by Brucki and points added through riding time, Brucki handed Hokit an 8-3 loss, knocking him down the bracket to matchup against Mikius for fifth place.
The bout ended in suspenseful fashion for Hokit as he defeated Mikius 7-2 in overtime, as both wrestlers needed more time to finish the matchup after ending regulation with a 1-1 tie. Regulation ended with only one escape recorded between the wrestlers in seven minutes of action.
Mikius scored the first point of the tiebreaker with an escape from Hokit’s grasp and as he looked to finish the bout, Hokit was able to free himself and turn a reversal into a four-point near fall, giving him the 7-2 decision victory and a fifth place finish.
Hokit, a dual-sport athlete in both wrestling and football, finishes the season with a 27-8 overall record on the season and 36-16 in his past two seasons with the ‘Dogs, giving Fresno State its first All-American since the program was reinstated two years ago and the first since Marcio Botelho achieved the feat at 197-pounds in 2003.
In an interview with Fresno State Athletics after his victory over Mikius, Hokit said he was excited to be bringing All-American honors back to Fresno State and that he felt that all his work culminated to his victory on Saturday.
“It is a dream come true to be the first All-American since they brought back the program,” Hokit said. “It is what I have worked my whole life for.”
For the Bulldogs, 133-pound redshirt freshman Gary Joint was the only wrestler — besides Hokit — to advance to day two of competition after losing his opening matchup on Thursday to University of Pittsburgh’s Mickey Phillipi by decision and a decision victory over Lehigh University’s Brandon Paetzell.
On Saturday, Joint faced off against number 14-seeded Korbin Myers of Virginia Tech. It would be a one-and-done day for Joint, as he was pinned in 4:54. The loss ended Joint’s season, giving him an 18-15 overall record in his second season with the ‘Dogs.
The three remaining Bulldogs who made the trip to Pittsburg were not as fortunate as Hokit and Joint, as redshirt junior Khristian Olivas, redshirt freshman Jackson Hemauer and sophomore AJ Nevills all suffered back-to-back losses during the weekend.
The 149-pound Olivas suffered a 6-3 loss to number 12-seeded Brady Berge of Penn State and followed that up with a 3-2 defeat by 28-seeded Michael Sprague of American university. For Hemauer, he was defeated by 10-seeded Samuel Colbray of Iowa State 8-2 in the first round and was subsequently pinned in his second matchup against seven-seeded Nick Rennan of North Carolina State.
Finally, the highest seeded Bulldog, number 14-seeded Nevills, finished his sophomore campaign by decision to 18-seeded Brian Andrew of Wyoming and was upset by 33-seeded Jacob Aven of Purdue. For the heavyweight, he finished his season with an impressive 24-9 overall record.
The Bulldogs finished 29th overall, tying both Purdue and Utah Valley with overall points scored and one of 31 Division I programs to have an All-American this season.