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Stephen Abas pursues his own personal wrestling destiny



An individual's personal destiny is a funny thing in wrestling. Some people would say that success comes in phases during a wrestling career. For many of America's elite wrestling stars, the progression to stardom includes high school state titles, Cadet and Junior national titles, NCAA titles, and even Olympic gold. To Stephen Abas, pursuing a personal wrestling destiny is the only reason he steps on the mat. "My older brother Gerry got me into the sport when I was seven years old, but all of my brothers wrestled all the way down the line, so it was an easy example to follow," siad Abas, a senior at Fresno State Univ. "My oldest brother Greg was an All-american at New Mexico, and my younger brother Norman was a California state champ at 103 pounds. Wrestling is a huge part of all of our lives, not just mine. It really has become a source of identity for the whole family to follow." After winning two California state high school titles, and numerous age level national honors as a Cadet and Junior, Abas quickly set his sights on winning four NCAA titles for the Bulldogs of Fresno State and head coach Dennis Deliddo. Abas' older brother Gerry, a current Fresno State assistant coach, was a three time NCAA finalist and regarded as one of the best wrestlers in the country on his feet during his tenure at Fresno State. Stephen set his goals based upon his brother's achievements. "When I first came here, I set a goal to be better than my brother Gerry," he said. "Everyone figured it would be pretty tough to do since he was a three-time finalist. I didn't achieve my goal of being a four-timer, but I do plan on being a three-time NCAA Champion." He appears to be on a direct path toward that goal, as he has not given up any offensive takedowns or reverals so far this season, his junior year. He won his first NCAA title as a sophomore in 1999, then took off last year as a redshirt, pursuing an Olympic dream. Although he did not make the U.S. Olympic freestyle team, Abas improved dramatically. "After winning it as a sophomore, I want to take my wrestling to the next level, and that means domination," said Abas. "I know everyone is expecting Cael Sanderson to take home the OW award at the NCAA's and win the Hodge trophy, but I want those same things as well. If I wrestle like I am capable, hopefully coaches will take notice that there is someone else wrestling at that high level as well." Abas knows if he is to win his second NCAA title, he will likely have to go through Iowa's second ranked Jody Strittmatter. "I've scouted him and wrestled him, of course, and I know he is good on top. But being good on top doesn't protect his legs, and I know how to wrestle him." Abas scored a 14-2 drubbing of Strittmatter earlier in the year in dual competition, a victory which gives him confidence going into the post-season events. Abas is not shy to point out his goals after graduating from college either. "I definitely plan on training to be a World and Olympic champ," he said. "I feel when my time comes, it will be my destiny to accomplish that." Abas feels his redshirt year for preparation for the Olympic Trials helped him a lot, even though he fell short of making the team. "Wrestling at that level helped me a lot. Everyone is real good and there aren't any easy matches. You have to prepare mentally for your competitions and be in the zone. When I am in my zone, I feel I can compete with the best in the world." But the matter at hand is the current college season, which has seen Fresno State rise steadily in the rankings. "We got a few real good transfers in who flat out want to win," said Abas. "It's been a good year for the team, especially after some people didn't expect much out of us." Abas has taken up a hobby which he feels helps him with his wrestling. It's a brazilian martial arts and dance combination called capoeira. "It has inproved my motion in my matches and really serves as a great warm up," said Abas. "I'm a pretty simple guy at heart, maybe even a little down to earth," he continued. "But the biggest thing I want people to see is that wrestling truly is my life. I want the fans to know that I truly want to be here." Wrestling fans can expect to see a lot of Abas for a long time, not only on the college level, but also on the international freestyle circuit. His ultimate destiny has yet to be determined, and Abas is excited about seeing just how far he can go within wrestling.
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