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Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

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Wrestling club aims to fill void left by axed program

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Darlene Wendels/ The Collegian
Darlene Wendels/ The Collegian
Darlene Wendels/ The Collegian

When Adam Wong transferred to Fresno State from Modesto Junior College, he knew that his wrestling career would be on hold because Fresno State doesn’t have a wrestling team.

Wong hoped to at least join the wrestling club at Fresno State and wrestle for fun.

But Wong was shocked to learn that Fresno State didn’t have a wrestling club either.

With the help of Fresno State students Daniel Avalos and Jovany Gonzalez, who had similar hopes, Wong set out to establish a wrestling club at Fresno State.

“I graduated from high school in 2006,” Wong said. “I wanted to come to Fresno State and try out for the team, but there was no team to come to, so I stayed at junior college and wrestled there.”

With the help of Associated Students Inc, the wrestling club raised enough money to cover its expenses and officially became a club on Oct. 29, 2013.

About 25 members initially registered for the club, but only about seven showed up consistently during the first year.

Adding to the challenge was the fact that the wrestling club was not allowed to practice at Fresno State.

“They don’t want us to mess up the wrestling mats,” Wong said. “There’s too much liability because of the gymnastics equipment that’s in there, and the weight room is connected to the wrestling room, so that’s another liability. For sanitation also, they don’t want to schedule somebody to clean after us.”

The club now holds its practice at Hoover High School although it takes $900 per semester to cover the cost of using the facility.

“Especially in the beginning, it affected our numbers,” Wong said. “There are students that don’t have cars, so they find it inconvenient if they have to walk over there or hitch a ride.”

Daniel Avalos, who is now vice president of the wrestling club, contacted club sports at Fresno State when he came to the university after wrestling in high school.

“I wanted to keep wrestling at Fresno State, because I wanted to stay engaged in the wrestling community,” Avalos said.

He added that the hardest obstacle in starting the club was finding an adviser.

“We had to get a faculty member to sign off on our papers, and there was a deadline to meet,” Avalos said. “You must have an advisor to become a club.”

The club found an advisor just in time when professor Timothy Kams of the Criminology department agreed.

“He signed the papers that were required, and we started from there,” Avalos said.

Avalos and the rest of the members are now focused on increasing membership and helping the club grow.

Part of their goal also includes increasing the number of women who want to participate in wrestling.

Freshman Rossana Aguilar is one of two women currently wrestling with the club.

“It’s better that we are wrestling with guys because it helps our strength,” Aguilar said. “When I wrestled in high school, my biggest issue was being overpowered by a guy. When you get used to their strength, it strengthens you as a wrestler.”

Although it hasn’t been easy, the wrestlers are proud of how far the club has come since the beginning.

With the minimal resources they have, they now compete in the National Collegiate Wrestling Association, which is established for wrestling clubs around the country.

The Fresno State wrestling club travels around California to compete against other colleges and also hosts wrestling meets at Fresno State.

“Look where we are now,” Wong said. “We just hosted our first home dual meet and we’ll be hosting the NCWA California Championship 2015, so we’re moving forward and hoping to promote wrestling in the Valley, because there are so many big teams in the area.”

Even with the possibility of wrestling returning to Fresno State, ­Wong hopes to see the club thrive for a long time.

“I would like the club to still be around, because it will help funnel in the talent,” Wong said. “If you don’t make first or second string for the program, there is still a club you can go to.”

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