Fresno State is in just its second season of fielding a wrestling program again.
But the Bulldogs already have an All-America wrestler.
Junior Josh Hokit out of Clovis High secured the honors at the NCAA Wresting Championships in Pittsburgh by winning four straight matches Friday in the consolation bracket, then topped it off with a victory Saturday in the fifth-place match.
“It is amazing and a dream come true,” Hokit said Friday.
Hokit’s individual triumph is the latest achievement for Fresno State since the program was brought back in 2017 following an 11-year absence.
Earlier this season, Fresno State (9-8) beat two Top 25 programs with wins against then-No. 23 Utah valley and then-No. 11 Wyoming.
Hokit, who was a key member of the Bulldogs’ Mountain West championship football team last year as a junior running back, went 6-2 in the three-day NCAA Championships as a No. 16 seed to finish the year 27-8.
He started the tournament Thursday morning with a 5-1 win over No. 9 Benjamin Honis of Cornell, then was pinned by top-seeded Bo Nickal of Penn State on Thursday night.
That set up his amazing run Friday.
It started with a 6-3 win against No. 31 seed Brett Perry of Buffalo.
Then Hokit edged No. 24 Jake Jakobsen of Lehigh 4-3 before delivering a dominating 13-4 major decision against No. 11 Christian Brunner of Purdue.
In his final match of the day, Hokit got the best of No. 5 Jacob Warner of Iowa and held onto a 5-4 win.
Saturday morning, No. 4 seed Patrick Brucki of Princeton, who came in with just two losses, dropped Hokit into the fifth-place match with an 8-3 decision that was tight to the finish.
Hokit rebounded with a 7-2 win over No. 6 seed Willie Miklus of Iowa State. The match was tied 1-1 through three periods and Miklus got an escape in the first overtime, but Hokit got a reversal and a near-fall in the second OT to grab fifth place.
After the match, the NCAA tweeted congratulations to Hokit: “Time for spring ball now, Josh!”
Hokit is Fresno State’s first wrestling All-American since 2003 and first football player to accomplish the feat since Lorenzo Neal took seventh in 1992.
And Hokit was the highest-finishing 16th seed in the tournament.
Joint goes 1-2 – Fresno State redshirt freshman Gary Joint Jr. from Lemoore bowed out of the NCAAs with a 1-2 record in the 133-pound bracket. The No. 29 seed lost to No. 4 Mickey Phillipi of Pittsburgh 4-2, beat No. 20 Brandon Paetzell of Lehigh 7-4 and was pinned by No. 14 Korbin Myers of Virginia Tech.
Pengilly just misses medal – Stanford senior Mason Pengilly, a former state prep champion out of Porterville High, came one win short of a medal at 133, finishing in the top 12.