Air Force tops Fresno State 24-12 at inaugural Battle on the Midway in San Diego

By Travis Blanshan, Fresno State Athletics | Nov. 22, 2017, 12:33 p.m. (ET)
Photo: Big 12 foes Air Force and Fresno State battle on the USS Midway in San Diego for the Bulldogs first conference dual. Photo by Justin Fine, SD Action Photography.

SAN DIEGO - In the inaugural Battle on the Midway hosted on the USS Midway, the Fresno State Bulldogs fell 24-12 to Air Force in its first-ever dual as members of the Big 12 Conference.

"What a great event and I want to thank Left Coast Wrestling for putting on this event and ESPN Radio for covering it," said head coach Troy Steiner. "There are a lot of positives to take away from tonight, it is good to get three wins, but we know we still have more work to do, and it is good to be apart of such a historic event.

Getting the dual started at 125 pounds, the 'Dogs lone senior, Sean Williams, gave Bulldog fans something to cheer about early with a quick takedown in the first minute before two escapes by Air Force's Tony DeCesare tied the match at 2-2. After a scoreless third period, riding time of nearly two minutes by DeCesare gave the Falcon a 3-2 win.

Air Force followed at 133 pounds with another tight win as the 'Dogs Trevor Williams jumped out to a 5-3 lead after two periods thanks to three points in the second period with an escape and late-period takedown. Unfortunately, an escape by the Falcons' Issac Jimenez and riding time of over a minute made the score locked at 5-5 sending the match into overtime. The first match that has been sent to extra time in the 'Dogs first four duals this season, Jimenez was able to escape off bottom as Williams was unable to hold him down for the win.

Moving onto 141 pounds, the 'Dogs Chris De Loza fought hard with an early takedown in the first period, but ran into trouble with in the second period as Air Force's Alec Opsal recorded a four-point near fall before recording a fall of De Loza at 3:54.

With Air Force leading 12-0 after three matches, the 'Dogs got on the board at 149 pounds as freshman Khristian Olivas delivered a 18-3 technical fall over Air Force's Jacoby Ward using a 10-point second period to break open a 3-3 match.

The Bulldogs carried that momentum into the 157 pound match as freshman Greg Gaxiola jumped out to a 7-2 lead after the first period scoring an early takedown and four-point near-fall before Air Force's Dane Robbins got a reverse, but an escape for the Clovis native gave him a five-point lead after the first three minutes. A 2-2 split in the second period kept Gaxiola's lead at five before five more points in the third period and an additional point for riding time gave him a 15-6 major decision.

Cutting the team lead score to 12-9 in favor of the Falcons, that would be as close as the 'Dogs would get as they dropped the next four matches each by decision as Air Force took a 24-9 lead into heavyweight.

At 165 pounds, sophomore Isaiah Hokit was able to stay with Air Force's Alex Lopouchanski early on before a third-period takedown and riding time by the Falcon gave him a 7-2 win. Another hard-fought battle ensued for the 'Dogs at 174 pounds as sophomore Dominc Kincaid battled hard falling 4-1 after Air Force's Michael Billingsley was able to get a second-period escape and added a point for riding time.

Two late escapes at 184 pounds turned out to the difference as the Bulldogs' Angel Solis fell by a narrow 4-2 margin to the Falcons' Zen Ikehara. A quick 2-2 start to 197 pounds saw the 'Dogs Richie Brandt unable to get anymore offense going as Air Force's Anthony McLaughlin added two takedowns, an escape and riding time for a 8-2 win.

The dual wrapped up at heavyweight as the 'Dogs AJ Nevills gave up an early takedown, but he was able to get two escapes to tie the match and used takedowns in the second and third periods to build a 6-2 lead and added a point for riding time for a 7-2 win.

Fresno State returns to action next weekend when they travel to one of the nation's top regular season tournaments, the Cliff Keen Invitational, hosted in Las Vegas on Dec. 1 and Dec. 2 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Notables
Olivas, Gaxiola & Nevills each improve to 4-0 on the season... Trevor Williams' match was the first time a Bulldog has had to go to overtime this season... Olivas' technical fall was the first of the season for the Bulldogs... Gaxiola's major decision was the ninth of the season.

Fresno State vs. Air Force Battle on the Midway Match-By-Match Results
125: Tony DeCesare (AFA) dec. Sean Williams (FS), 3-2 | AF 3, FS 0
133: Issac Jimenez (AFA) dec. Trevor Williams (FS), 6-5, SV1 | AF 6, FS 0
141: Alec Opsal (AFA) pinned Chris De Loza (FS), 3:54 | AF 12, FS 0
149: Khristian Olivas (FS) tech. fall Jacoby Ward (AFA), 18-3 | AF 12, FS 6
157: Greg Gaxiola (FS) maj. dec. Dane Robbins (AFA), 15-6 | AF 12, FS 9
165: Alex Lopouchanski (AFA) dec. Isaiah Hokit (FS), 7-2 | AF 15, FS 9
174: Michael Billingsley (AFA) dec. Dominic Kincaid (FS), 4-1 | AF 18, FS 9
184: Zen Ikehara (AF) dec. Angel Solis (FS), 4-2 | AF 21, FS 9
197: Anthony McLaughlin (AF) dec. Richie Brandt (FS), 8-2 | AF 24, FS 9
285: AJ Nevills (FS) dec. Matt Wagner (AF), 7-2 | AF 24, FS 12

Battle on the Midway International Exhibition Matches Results
Women's Junior/Cadet Bout: Hannah Taylor (Canada) def. Grace Figueroa (USA), 6-5
Women's Freestyle Senior Bout: Jacarra Winchester (USA) def. Emily Schaefer (Canada), 14-8
Men's Freestyle Junior/Cadet Bout: Ryan Franco (USA-CA) def. Dominik Serrano (USA-COL), 12-2
Men's Freestyle Senior Bout: Joe Colon (USA) def. Steven Takahashi (Canada), 10-0
Greco-Roman Junior/Cadet Bout: Peyton Omania (USA) def. Mexico, 8-7
Greco-Roman Senior Bout: Robby Smith (USA) def. Korey Jarvis (Canada), 10-0

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