FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – This weekend in St. Louis, the Fresno State wrestling team added one more name to its list of all-Americans.
Kyle Parco became the 23rd wrestler in program history to reach all-American status, the first since Josh Hokit in 2019.
After this weekend, the Fresno State wrestling program will be eliminated for the second time since 2006.
“I actually could not believe it. It was hard enough to know that they dropped it that first time,” said former Bulldog wrestler Stephen Abas. “It’s horrible news.”
Abas is one of the best athletes to ever come out of Fresno State.
A four-time all-American and a three-time national champion, Abas also brought home a silver medal from the 2004 Olympics in Athens. He helped put Fresno State wrestling on the map.
“I enjoyed my time there, and I know that there’s opportunities for other kids to have the same success, if we could just keep the team around,” said Abas.
The first year that Fresno State returned to the wrestling mat was in 2017, and the roster was stacked with valley athletes: Buchanan, Clovis, Clovis North, Selma, Dinuba, Lemoore and Madera Ranchos were all represented.
One of those wrestlers was Khristian Olivas, a Clovis Cougar, who grew up watching the Bulldogs.
“I actually remember when they wrestled OK State and Iowa,” Olivas said. “So just seeing it as a kid, I was all about it and super excited to one day be there.”
Out of high school, Fresno State didn’t have a wrestling program at the time so Olivas went to Utah Valley. Once the heard the program was coming back, he dropped everything to return home.
“Once they announced Troy Steiner was gonna be the head coach, my dad called me and was telling me all about it,” Olivas said. “I packed my bags and I was back in two days.”
“I love wrestling for the valley, and being close to my parents and for my family and friends to come watch me. It was a no brainer and it made sense to me.”
Meanwhile, Abas, who is from the Bay Area, said Fresno State felt like home to him.
“It was just real cool to wrestle in this community,” said Abas. “The fans knew what was going on and they got so excited for the big matches. I’ve been around wrestling for over 30 years, I’ve never seen another city that’s been like this. I really, really enjoyed wrestling in this community.”
“It’s so big in the valley,” added Olivas. “And I hope one day my kid decides to wrestle, you know? I hope that would be his school that I’d want him to go to, but we’ll see.”