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World champion and two-time NCAA champion Stephen Neal to be inducted into CSUB Alumni Hall of Fame

by CSU Bakersfield Athletics

Bakersfield, Calif. – Decorated CSU Bakersfield wrestling alumni Stephen Neal has been nominated as part of the CSUB Alumni Hall of Fame class of 2022. Neal will be honored by the school's alumni association during February's home coming celebration alongside nursing administrator Terri Church, educator Paula Parks and farm-worker union leader Connie Perez-Andreesen.

"Stephen's career defines Bakersfield Grit," said CSUB Wrestling Head Coach Luke Smith. "He grew from a one-time California state placer to one of the greatest heavyweight wrestlers of all time and continues to support and inspire Roadrunner wrestlers to this day."

A four-time All-American, Neal wrestled for the Roadrunners from 1996-99 winning two heavyweight National Championships and compiling a career record of 156-10. He still holds Bakersfield records for career wins and pins (71).

Neal posted undefeated and national championship seasons in 1998 and 1999, two of just four perfect seasons in Roadrunner history. He capped the 1999 season by winning the Hodge Trophy, given annually to the top collegiate wrestler.

Neal would go on to win the 1999 World Wrestling Championship in Ankara, Turkey, as a 286-pounder before signing as an undrafted free agent with the New England Patriots in 2001. He'd spend the next 10 seasons with the Patriots, winning Super Bowl Championships in 2002, 2004 and 2005.

He remains heavily supportive of CSUB Wrestling to this day, including serving as the program's Alumni Relations Coordinator.