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Former Fresno State star Stephen Abas gets his first high school wrestling coaching job

Fresno State’s Stephen Abas, left, grapples with Iowa’s Luke Eustice en route to winning the 2002 NCAA championship, Abas’ third. Abas, 41, was named Fresno High School wrestling coach on Friday, May 31, 2019.
Fresno State’s Stephen Abas, left, grapples with Iowa’s Luke Eustice en route to winning the 2002 NCAA championship, Abas’ third. Abas, 41, was named Fresno High School wrestling coach on Friday, May 31, 2019. Associated Press file

Former Olympic silver medalist Stephen Abas is the new Fresno High wrestling coach.

It’s the first high school coaching job for the former Fresno State star.

“I’ve been wanting to have a team for a long time to see if I can turn them into a bunch of little me’s,” Abas said.

At Fresno State, he was a three-time NCAA champion at 125 pounds and a four-time All-American from 1998-2002. He won silver as a U.S. wrestler in the 2004 Olympic Games.

He even had a brief stint in mixed martial arts. Fresno Unified said he will begin his coaching duties immediately.

Abas, 41, said he applied for the position two weeks ago and will continue to be a substitute teacher. He teaches wrestling at Pacific Martial Arts and will compete at a jiu-jitsu tournament in July.

“I want to help the kids understand first and foremost that wrestling is not about physical – it’s about the mental,” he said. “I want to make sure they understand the process before we get anything started. I’m not sure the specifics of that, but I definitely want to make them understand that wrestling is more than running and wrestling, sweating and working hard. A lot of it is focus and mental preparation. I want to apply that as soon as possible.

“I’ve been around this sport long enough to understand what the kids need for success, and that’s what I’m going to bring.”

Fresno State's restored wrestling program hosts its first home match of the new era against Illinois, drawing 6,000-plus wild fans Friday night, Nov. 17, 2017 to Save Mart Center in Fresno.

Anthony Galaviz writes about sports for The Fresno Bee. He covers the Oakland Raiders, high schools, boxing, MMA and junior colleges. He’s been with The Bee since 1997 and attended Fresno City College before graduating from Fresno State with a major in journalism and a minor in criminology.

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