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Travis Blanshan | Fresno State Athletics | November 21, 2017

Fresno State readies for first Big 12 dual at inaugural Battle of the Midway

  Fresno State takes on Air Force in the inaugural Battle on the Midway.

SAN DIEGO - Fresno State Wrestling is set to compete in its first-ever Big 12 dual on Tuesday taking on Air Force in the inaugural Battle on the Midway.

RELATED: USA Today/ NWCA Coaches poll

"We are excited about bringing the sport of wrestling to the beautiful city of San Diego," said Bulldog head coach Troy Steiner. "We want to thank Left Coast Wrestling for helping to organize this event and are looking forward to showcasing wrestling on all different levels with this event. To be apart of the first collegiate dual to be held on a U.S. military ship will truly be a remarkable moment."

Fresno State vs. Air Force

Nov. 21, 2017 • 7:00 P.M. • USS Midway • San Diego, Calif.
Radio: 940 AM ESPN (Paul Loeffler & Stephen Abas)
Live Scoring: Trackwrestling
Twitter: @FresnoStateWRES
Video: N/A
Series History: Fresno State leads 1-0
Last Meeting: Feb. 17, 2001 – W, 25-9 in Colorado Springs, Colo.


Battle on The Midway Schedule

  • 2:00 - 6:00 PM: Pre-Event Festivities (Food Vendors, Beer, Spirits & Wine, Music provided by a DJ, Meet the Legends - Stephen Neal, J Robinson & Dan Gable)
  • 6:00 PM: Gates Open for General Admission
  • 6:30 PM: Welcome & Announcements
  • 7:00 PM: International exhibition matches
  • 8:00 PM: Fresno State vs. Air Force in Dual for Valor

Scouting Air Force

Air Force, who is in their third season as members of the Big 12, is 0-1 in dual meet action falling at No. 6 Minnesota, 29-6 on Nov. 12. The Falcons were able to pick up wins at 141 pounds as Alec Opsal topped Gannon Volk, 4-0 and also won at 197 pounds as Anthony McLaughlin topped Bobby Stevenson, 7-4.

The only other competition of the season for the Falcons on the season came on Nov. 4 at the Cowboy Open hosted by fellow Big 12 member Wyoming. Opsal won the 141 pound weight class while Dane Robbins (157), Zen Ikehara (184) & McLaughlin finished second in their respective weight classes. Three other Falcons finished third in the tournament.

Air Force hosts Big 12 duals against South Dakota State, West Virginia, Utah Valley and Wyoming while going to North Dakota State and Northern Colorado.

Projected Starting Lineups
Air Force vs. Fresno State Probable Wrestlers

  • 125: Tony DeCesare or Drew Romero (AF) vs. Sean Williams (FS)
  • 133: Isaac Jimenez (AF) vs. Trevor Williams or Emilio Saavedra (FS)
  • 141: Alec Opsal or Lyle Plummer (AF) vs. Chris De Loza (FS)
  • 149: Jacoby Ward or Tommy Stager (AF) vs. Khristian Olivas (FS)
  • 157: Dane Robbins (AF) vs. Greg Gaxiola (FS)
  • 165: Alex Lopouchanski or Tyler Wiederholt (AF) vs. Isaiah Hokit (FS)
  • 174: Michael Billingsley (AF) vs. Dominic Kincaid (FS)
  • 184: Zen Ikehara (AF) vs. Angel Solis (FS)
  • 197: Anthony McLaughlin (AF) vs. Richie Brandt (FS)
  • 285: Matt Wagner (AF) vs. AJ Nevills (FS)


A wrestling showcase on many levels
In addition to the collegiate dual on Tuesday, there will be six international exhibition matches preceding it, including one featuring Fresno State volunteer assistant coach Joe Colon.

International exhibition matches
Women's Freestyle Senior bout – Jacarra Winchester (USA) vs. Emily Schaefer (Canada)
Women's Junior/Cadet bout – Gracie Figueroa (USA) vs. Hannah Taylor (Canada)
Greco-Roman Senior bout – Robby Smith (USA) vs. Korey Jarvis (Canada)
Greco-Roman Junior/Cadet bout – Peyton Omania (USA) vs. TBA (Mexico)
Men's Freestyle Senior bout – Joe Colon (USA) vs. Steven Takahashi (Canada)
Men's Freestyle Junior/Cadet bout – Ryan Franco (USA-CA) vs. Dominik Serrano (USA-COL)

Fresno State Wrestling returns to the Valley

Last Friday, in front of 6,840 Red Wave supporters, the third-largest dual in program history, Fresno State Wrestling returned to the Valley as the 'Dogs battled Big 10 foe Illinois at the Save Mart Center.

The 'Dogs, who fel in the dual 33-10, came out with three dual wins as Khrisitian Olivas got Fresno State on the board with a 10-2 major decision at 149 pounds over nationally-ranked Eric Barone while Greg Gaxiolafollowed it up with a 9-5 win at 157 pounds over another nationally-ranked foe in Eric Langenderfer.

The final win for the Bulldogs came at heavyweight as AJ Nevills topped Duece Rachal, 7-5 with a late takedown in the third period.

First-ever Big 12 dual

In addition to the significance of wrestling outdoors on a U.S. military aircraft carrier, Tuesday's dual also signifies the first-ever dual for Fresno State as members of the Big 12 Conference. The 'Dogs will compete in six conference duals in year one hosting Big 12 foes Utah Valley (Jan. 19) and Oklahoma State (Feb. 18) while traveling to Northern Colorado (Jan. 26), Wyoming (Jan. 27) and Iowa State (Feb. 9).

Return of Wrestling to the Central Valley

Fresno State Wrestling makes its return to the Valley this year after an 11-year absence as the sport was discontinued after the 2005-06 season. The 'Dogs competed in Division II for seven seasons before making the move to Division I in 1969 where they competed for 38 seasons. 

The 'Dogs hold an all-time dual meet record of 444-336-7 (.569), have won 11 conference titles and finished in the Top 25 at the NCAA Tournament 14 times.

Bulldog Wrestling loses legendary coach Dick Francis on Sunday

Former Fresno State wrestling coach Dick Francis, who ranks second in all-time victories in program history, died Sunday at his home in Philadelphia. Dr. Francis was 85.

Dr. Francis was the second head coach in program history, winning 108 matches over 16 seasons between 1965-81. He transitioned the wrestling team into NCAA Division I competition and coached the program's first NCAA champion, Mike Gallego, whom he recruited into wrestling while at McLane High.

Stephen Abas announced as a Distinguished Member of the 2018 National Wrestling Hall of Fame Class

Fresno State Wrestling legend Stephen Abas was announced as a Distinguished Member of the 2018 National Wrestling Hall of Fame Class on Oct. 26. A five-year Bulldog from 1997-2002, Abas was a three-time NCAA Division I national champion and a four-time All-American at Fresno State, winning titles in 1999, 2001 and 2002 after finishing fourth as a freshman in 1998. He won a silver medal at the Summer Olympics in 2004 and competed in the World Championships in 2001 and 2003. He was also qualified for the World Championships in 2002, but the United States did not compete.