The union of Selma High School wrestler Robert Garcia IV and Fresno State has long been in the making.
Garcia attended his first Bulldogs wrestling match with his father, Robert Garcia III, at the age of 3 and was instantly hooked on the sport and program.
By the time Garcia was 8, he was holding signs as his family joined rallies protesting Fresno State’s elimination of the sport because of budget concerns in 2006.
Come November, the three-time medalist at the CIF State Championships will sign his letter of intent with the rebooted Bulldogs wrestling team.
Garcia has given his oral commitment to Fresno State, joining a growing list of current and former area standouts set to compete for the Bulldogs when the wrestling team returns in 2017-18.
“I’ve wanted to go to Fresno State ever since I was a little kid,” Garcia said. “I’ve always dreamed of becoming a Bulldog and now that it’s actually happening, it’s crazy.”
Garcia and Lemoore’s Gary Joint have joined Dinuba’s Jacob Wright, who announced his commitment in July, as local high school recruits.
Four other former area high school standouts already in college – Isaiah Hokit (Drexel/ex-Clovis), Khristian Olivas (Utah Valley State/ex-Clovis), Sean Williams (Oklahoma/ex-Lemoore) and Ritchie Ybarra-Brandt (Utah Valley State/ex-Liberty-Madera Ranchos) – are reportedly heading back to the Valley to wrestle for Fresno State. And Josh Hokit, Isaiah’s younger brother, is playing football at Fresno State and also expected to wrestle.
I’ve wanted to go to Fresno State ever since I was a little kid. I’ve always dreamed of becoming a Bulldog and now that it’s actually happening, it’s crazy.
Selma High School’s Robert Garcia IV, who has given an verbal commitment to the relaunched Fresno State wrestling team
Garcia is coming off a third-place finish at 120 pounds at last season’s state meet. He was sixth at 120 as a sophomore and second at 113 as a freshman.
Garcia was also recruited by Old Dominion, Virginia, Cal Poly, Cal State Bakersfield and Stanford. But once Fresno State and coach Troy Steiner entered the picture, Garcia’s choice was clear.
“It was good timing, like it was meant to be,” Garcia said. “As soon as they called me, I knew I wanted to go there. It was an easy decision.”
Joint, who moved from Kansas to Lemoore before last season, doesn’t have the history with Fresno State that Garcia does but was instantly impressed with Steiner and the roster he’s assembling.
“What really made me commit was not only did they have a lot of legit wrestlers coming in and committing as well, but when I asked what the plan was for me, they talked about ways they can benefit me and help me as well,” Joint said. “It’s a plan I want to be a part of.”
Joint is also a three-time state medalist, having placed third at 126 last March in Bakersfield during his first season at Lemoore. He was second at 126 and 106, respectively, in Kansas’ state 6A/5A division as a sophomore and freshman.
Joint was also recruited by Navy, Cal Poly, Nebraska and Cal Baptist.
“The way (Steiner) likes to run his practices really suited me,” Joint said. “He runs an Iowa-style practice. I like to get in the room, roll up my sleeves and work hard, and that’s what he believes in, too. It fits my work ethic, so it’s the perfect college to commit to.”
Team tennis parings set – Tri-River Athletic Conference champion Clovis West drew the No. 1 seed for the Central Section Division I girls tennis playoffs.
Also being selected for top seeds were Bakersfield Christian in D-II, Lemoore in D-III, Kerman in D-IV and Firebaugh in D-V. The team playoffs begin Thursday and continue with quarterfinals Oct. 26, semifinals Nov. 2 and finals Nov. 8.
Clovis West last captured the section D-I girls title in 2010. Clovis North is No. 2, followed by No. 3 Garces and defending champion Buchanan at No. 4.
Bakersfield Christian will have home-court advantage in D-II as it looks to repeat as champion ahead of No. 2-seeded Bakersfield, No. 3 Sanger and No. 4 Redwood.
Following Lemoore in D-III is No. 2 Selma, No. 3 Taft and No. 4 West. Reigning champ Independence is not in the field.
In D-IV, Chowchilla is seeded second followed by No. 3 Corcoran and No. 4 Woodlake. Defending champion Wasco is seeded fifth.
And in D-V, defending champion Sierra Pacific is seeded fourth behind Firebaugh, the runner-up last year, No. 2 Central Valley Christian and No. 3 Caruthers.
Ex-Parlier coach honored – Parlier honored Jimmie Clifton for his 30-plus years as a wrestling, softball and football coach with a plaque that will be displayed permanently at the school.
Former Olympian and Porterville wrestling coach Tim Vanni was on hand to present the plaque to Clifton during Parlier’s homecoming football game Oct. 14.
Volleyball showdowns on tap – Exeter will take a second crack at stopping the Central Section’s longest-running league winning streak in girls volleyball, and attempt to force a tie atop the Central Sequoia League standings, when it plays at Central Valley Christian on Oct. 18.
The Bee’s Central Section No. 14-ranked Monarchs (25-6, 5-1) were on the verge of ending CVC’s league winning streak at 77 matches on Sept. 29 ahead 2-0 and leading the third set 20-18 before the Cavaliers rallied for an 18-25, 25-27, 26-24, 25-23, 15-13 victory in Exeter.
Unranked CVC (13-17, 6-0) has since won four more matches to run its league winning streak to 82.
The rematch is set for 6 p.m. in Visalia. It’s one of three showdowns for league leads around the section Oct. 18.
No. 18 Yosemite (30-4, 5-1) is set to play at No. 16 Liberty-Madera Ranchos (27-1, 5-1) at 6 p.m. in a matchup of two of the three teams tied for first-place in the North Sequoia League. No. 17 Sierra (21-3) is also part of the three-way tie. The Chieftains host Liberty on Oct. 20.
Yosemite handed Liberty its only loss of the season – 25-18, 25-13, 25-18 – on Sept. 29. The Hawks went on to beat Sierra 26-28, 26-24, 19-25, 25-20, 26-24 on Oct. 4, then the Chieftains forced the three-way tie when they topped the Badgers 19-25, 25-15, 25-14, 25-20 on Oct. 14.
And in Tulare, No. 13 Mission Oak (23-7, 5-1) hosts No. 19 Monache (21-7, 6-0) in a clash of the top teams in the East Yosemite League. Monache beat the defending league champion and section Division III runner-up Hawks 25-20, 24-26, 25-23, 21-25, 15-11 on Sept. 29 in Porterville.