FRESNO - Family and friends of Selma High wrestlers Jace Luchau and Christian Rodriguez won’t have to travel far to watch them wrestle at the next level.
Luchau and Rodriguez officially signed their national letters of intent to Fresno State in front of family, friends, and teammates in a ceremony at a Buffalo Wild Wings location in Fresno on Nov. 14.
For both of the future Bulldogs, staying close to home was important in their decision of choosing a school and wrestling for an NCAA Division I program has been a dream of theirs since they were children. Signing their letters of intents was something they were eager to to do.
“This is a moment I’ve waiting for a long time,” Rodriguez said.
“It’s just that itchy feeling,” Lucahu said. “I was ready to get it out of the way.”
Other than Fresno State, Luchau had numerous college visits to Oklahoma State, Iowa State and University of North Carolina. After he was done with his visits, Lucahu made his decision to stay nearby his family.
“It was just how friendly, family oriented the team was,” Luchau said. “They made me feel welcome, they made feel like I was part of something big and so that was the difference between Fresno State and everyone else.”
When Lucahu announced his commitment to the Bulldogs on his Twitter account, his post said “I started this by saying that people are always looking for a way out of the Valley, but people should really start looking at how we can improve the Valley and that’s why I’m staying home.”
“What I mean is I feel like everyone thinks the Valley is so terrible,” Lucahu said about his twitter post. “To me personally, I don’t think it’s that bad of a place. Well if it’s so bad why don’t you just try to make it better and represent your culture and where you live, make it a better place, so that’s what I meant by it.”
Since last season, Rodriguez has been verbally committed to Fresno State. When he had the chance to decide to be a Bulldog, it was a no brainer that he wanted to continue his wrestling career in the Valley.
“I wanted to stay local,” Rodriguez said. “I wanted to have my family and everybody watch me wrestle and support me. Rather than going far away, starting over when I know everyone in the Valley, it’s like a family out here with the team. So I have a good connection with the team, which probably one of the reasons I stayed.”
Selma wrestling head coach Sam Lopez, who wrestled for the Bulldogs from 1992-94, is excited to see Luchau and Rodriguez continuing their academic and athletic careers nearby.
“It’s really exciting, especially having them home here at Fresno State” Lopez said. “These two guys will be part of the building blocks of greater and better things at Fresno State to come.”
Lopez said his children are excited about Lucahu and Rodriguez staying nearby.
“My two little boys are eight and six now and they love these two guys, Jace and Christian,” Lopez said. “Now they’re excited they’re going to be Bulldogs also and they always ask about them, so they want to watch them wrestle [at Fresno State].”
Lucahu is currently the No. 2 ranked 152-pound wrestler in the nation and is No. 1 in California. The 152-pounder’s accomplishments include being a seven-time All-American against national competition and he placed fourth in the CIF State tournament last year. His seven-time All-American recognition is the most in the history of Selma’s program.
Rodriguez is California’s top-ranked wrestler at 170 pounds. His accomplishments include being a two-time CIF State tournament placer. Last season, Rodriguez placed third in the state tourney.
Not only will they continue to be in the same wrestling room at Fresno State, they will also be on the same team with former Selma High teammate Robert Garcia IV, who is currently in his redshirt freshman season as a Bulldog.
“It just shows that small town Selma could do big things,” Luchau said. “It’s just great.”
Lucahu and Rodriguez were two of the Bulldogs’ five fall signings and were two of four signees from the Central Valley.
“Jace brings a passion for the sport of wrestling,” Fresno State head coach Troy Steiner said in a statement in the Bulldogs athletics website. “This guy loves to compete and will leave everything on the mat. He is not afraid to put it all on the line.”
“Christian has a lot of grit and an unbelievable work ethic,” Steiner said in the same statement. “He is a grinder and will be fun to watch him in a Bulldog singlet.”