FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- It's early - but redshirt sophomore Hunter Cruz is off to a hot start - going 4-0 in the Bulldogs' first meet of the season.
"I do not want to lose this year," he said. "I want to go undefeated. I want to be All-American. I want to go to the NCAA's. That's what I've been working for this offseason. I've been pretty focused this season and I don't think anyone should beat me."
A native to Moses Lake, Washington, the former two-sport athlete decided to give up football and dedicate himself to wrestling after winning back to back state titles on the mat.
"I actually had a breakout tournament called FloNationals in Pennsylvania," he said. "The coaches called me that night and had me on a plane two days later. As soon as Fresno State offered me, it took me ten seconds. I was like, 'I want to be here.'"
After starting off 0-3 last season, he finished the year 9-8 and was tabbed the most improved wrestler. Hunter shares what happened when the team was told that this would be their final season at the helm.
"Emotions were all over the place," he said. "You don't want to blame anyone, but we were just trying to get clarity on everything, why did this happen and the university explained it to us. I knew coming into it, this game is a business and it's a business decision that the university made. We're trying to do everything right and go out on top. I just want to leave a good taste in the university's mouth about us, I guess."
Cruz says academics also played a part in his decision to stay at Fresno State this year.
"I'm graduating this year, so I wanted to finish out my degree and not transfer a bunch of classes," he said. "The other thing is I just wanted to finish out what my coaches started. A lot of people don't know this, but our coaches turned down other jobs for this. They wanted to be here, so I wanted to pay back to them what they did to me. Wrestling's huge in this community. All the little kids look up to you, which is why i wanted to stay here too, is to get one last taste of that."
COVID-19 has not just affected the team's schedule but also its practices.
Meet the Bulldog: Hunter Cruz