This drive stinks.
There is no way I should be trucking my kids to the south edge of the San Joaquin Valley to watch the best wrestling team in the nation.
It was nice to watch No. 1-ranked Penn State wrestle at Cal State-Bakersfield in front of 1,846 admirers on a November Friday night. It would have been nicer to watch Penn State vs. Fresno State in front of 10,000 sets of cauliflower ears inside Save Mart Center on Saturday night, when the Nittany Lions took the day off for lack of an opponent.
Stalling, Fresno State. Bring wrestling back, already.
Former Clovis High star Nick Nevills is the only heavyweight to win gold three times in the CIF State Wrestling Championships.
“I think it’d be super exciting to be able to participate in a wrestling match at the Save Mart Center,” said Nittany Lions heavyweight Nick Nevills, and he would know.
Nevills was a Clovis kid who grew up watching Fresno State’s wrestling program. He was one of the 9,750 at Save Mart Center when Iowa State rolled through in 2004, and was in the bleachers when uberpower Iowa tractored by in 2005.
Football and basketball don’t bring defending national champions to home games. Wrestling always did.
To be at the Icardo Center on Friday was to remember how that, fringe sport or not, Fresno State wrestling always brought this kind of incredible show to town. So what if the Roadrunners were road kill?
Let’s see this get done so Nevills can come back and wrestle in front of family, and so Illinois can give top-ranked Isaiah Martinez of Lemoore a homecoming, and so the next wave of California stars don’t have to move cross country for a scholarship.
They roared when Reuben Franklin took down No. 1-ranked Morgan McIntosh, even if he still lost 13-5. They loved that Sergio Mendez can now say he scored a takedown against three-time All-America wrestler Nico Megaludis – never mind that he lost 23-10, his grandkids are going to hear all about that leg attack at the edge.
And, when Bakersfield heavyweight Matt Williams beat Jan Johnson 4-0? Bedlam. In what other sport does the team that’s losing 35-0 go lollapalooza when it wins one lousy match?
Name another college sport where the opposing coach skips the postgame team meeting to sign autographs and pose for pictures. Better yet, name another college sport where fans even want the opposing coach’s autograph. His headset on a platter, maybe. But a selfie?
My boys got to shake hands with wrestling legend Cael Sanderson, head coach at Penn State. They shouldn’t have to be subjected to the drive to Bakersfield for that.
We’re glad Fresno State President Joseph Castro is bringing back wrestling. We just wish he’d hurry up. There should have been a coach hired in January. There should have been recruits signing this month.
Enough stalling. Time to pin this thing down.
- 1. Did you see the sorry sight of Fresno State’s 52-10 loss to Brigham Young on Saturday? Did you hear the deep depression in former coach Pat Hill’s voice on the radio call? Does a part of you hope the Bulldogs just call it a year and forfeit the season finale against Colorado State, for mercy’s sake? The offseason cannot come soon enough for these poor guys.
- 2. There were reports that Colin Kaepernick’s career with the 49ers most likely ended Saturday when he went on injured reserve. Not true. His time in San Francisco ended the moment former coach Jim Harbaugh got thrown off the nearest fire escape. Everything since was just Kap living out his eviction notice.
- 3. If you want to watch Clovis play More Clovis in high school playoffs, knock yourself out. Me and my house, we’re down with small-town football for the holidays. Mendota-Dos Palos. Chowchilla-Kerman. Where it’s as much about community as it is championships.