The second-annual “Battle on the Midway” Collegiate wrestling showcase, presented by Left Coast Wrestling, will feature a pre-Thanksgiving interstate showdown on the flight deck of the famed aircraft carrier USS Midway when the Fresno State Bulldogs square off against the Stanford Cardinal.
This marks Fresno State’s second-consecutive appearance in the Battle on the Midway. The Bulldogs were outpointed by Air Force, 24-12, in the inaugural event last November. Despite the defeat, Bulldogs Head Coach Troy Steiner is looking forward to his team’s return to San Diego to compete in one of collegiate wrestling’s showcase events.
“This is big for the entire sport of wrestling to be able to take part in such a unique event like this on one of the most famous aircraft carriers ever commissioned,” said Steiner. “It was a great honor to take part in the first-ever Battle on the Midway and we’re looking forward to coming back this year to face a very talented opponent in Stanford.”
The Bulldogs went just 4-16 in their return to collegiate wrestling in 2017. A member of the Big 12 Conference, Fresno State’s wrestling program had been shuttered due to budget cuts in 2006, yet despite the 10-year absence, Steiner has high aspirations for his young squad in its second season back. His roster features 15 freshmen, four sophomores and seven juniors. They’ll meet a Stanford squad out of the Pac-12 that went 7-5 last season, but finished strong, winning three of its final four dual matches. The Bulldogs and Cardinal met last season in a match during that four-meet stretch, a dual that Stanford won by a 27-15 count. Cardinal Coach Jason Borrelli also has a young squad that features 13 freshmen, nine sophomores, five juniors, five seniors and one graduate student.
“We are honored to have an opportunity to represent our University and the Pac-12 Conference in such a prestigious event,” said Borrelli. “To face a natural rival like Fresno State and to do so atop one of our country’s most famous aircraft carriers will be something I’m sure none of us will ever forget.”
Several Southern California natives dot the rosters of both teams. For Fresno State, junior Ricky Padilla hails from San Dimas, freshman Danny Salas is from Bellflower, and fellow freshman Jeremy Trinh is from Oxnard. Stanford’s roster features junior Brandon Kier from Alpine and sophomore Anthony Le from Laguna Niguel.
In addition to the head-to-head battle between Fresno State and Stanford, there will also be a six-match undercard featuring members of Team USA’s men’s and women’s freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling teams.
Several other sporting events have been staged on the deck of the Midway, however the Battle on the Midway is the only wrestling event that has been staged aboard the famed aircraft-carrier that was used by U.S. Troops during the Vietnam War and Operation Desert Storm.
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