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Fresno State University president announces the return of its storied wrestling program

After eight years, Fresno State will bring back its wrestling program, marking college wrestling's most important victory to date in its fight to stay alive in the Golden State.

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Fresno State (California State University-Fresno) president  Joseph Castro  has announced that his school will reinstate its decorated NCAA Division I wrestling program.

The Fresno Bee reported that Castro will finalize a time table for the teams return in the coming months

"It's no longer a question of whether (wrestling will return)," Castro said. "That decision was made on my 100th day when I said we were going to do it. ... I expect to make an announcement later this fall."

Fresno State cut its wrestling program suddenly in 2006, despite the long history of standout athletes. In total, Fresno State has produced 21 NCAA All Americans and three national champions. Three time NCAA champion and Olympic medalist Stephen Abas, as well as NFL stalwart Lorenzo Neal are just two of the program's notable alumni.

The return of this program is hugely important for the sport of college wrestling. Though the sport has largely stemmed the massive destruction brought on by proportionality based enforcement of Title IX regulations, few eliminated programs have returned from the dead, particularly from large public schools like Fresno State.

This reinstatement represents an even more significant development due to Fresno State's location. Due to cash-strapped budgets, California collegiate wrestling teams throughout the state have found their positions increasingly precarious as athletic directors looks to trim non-revenue sports. In just the last decade, California public universities Cal Davis (alma mater of Urijah Faber) and Cal State Fullerton (alma mater of TJ Dillashaw) scuttled their wrestling programs. Fresno State's return improves the prognosis of West Coast college wrestling in general, and flies in the face of a trend that threatened to destroy big-time college wrestling in all three states that border the Pacific.

To add to the importance of the reinstatement announcement, the city of Fresno resides in the Central Valley of California, one of the biggest hotbeds for high school wrestling talent in the United States. The presence of a Fresno State wrestling team in this region gives wrestling prospects from this region, many of whom are the products of blue-collar agricultural communities, a local option for both pursuing a college degree and competing on college wrestling's highest level.

Finally, this gives me an excuse to share the badass Stephen Abas highlight video below. If I rubbed a magic lamp, and a genie popped out, my first wish would be to have the ability to wrestle like Abas.

The video features this absurd piece of counter wrestling against an Arizona State wrestler (I think Matt Azevedo). This rates up there with one of the most incredible snippets of wrestling that I have ever seen.


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