GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado — The Cloud County Community College wrestling team began a challenging back-to-back against NCAA Division II foes on Thursday with a 36-12 dual loss to Colorado Mesa University.
The Mavericks are the first of two Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) perennial powers the T-Birds will see this week as they dual Western State Colorado University at 5 p.m. (CST) Friday in what head coach Cody Cole hopes serves as an early season learning experience.
"These duals are serving a training purpose. We really want to get these guys to the point where they understand how to wrestling against two really good NCAA Division II teams," Cole said. "We want to get as much film as we can, process what we need to work on against high quality opponents we may not get to see without this opportunity."
Cloud County jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the dual after Colorado Mesa forfeited at 125-pounds and freshman Dakota Miller scored an 11-7 victory over Tim Romero at 133-pounds.
Miller improved to 5-1 on the early season with the win.
"Dakota is a talented wrestler and we're still trying to get him into wrestling shape after he took some time off," Cole said. "Last weekend (Oklahoma City University Open) we kind of saw him wrestling five or five and a half strong minutes and (Thursday) we saw a solid six. We're still striving to get to that full seven minutes where he's going the whole time, but he did a great job securing that win for us."
The T-Birds earned their second match win in the heavyweight division as sophomore Benny Hernandez, the No. 4 ranked 285-pounder in the NJCAA rankings, grinded out a tight 10-7 decision to conclude the evening.
Despite giving up height to Voytilla, Hernandez (5-1) used his mobility to score out of defensive positions.
"He was smaller height wise, but they weighed in the same. Benny is just so good at moving guys and creating angles," Cole said. "Even though he's a heavyweight, he wrestles more like a 184-pounder. He hand fights really well and scores when opportunities present themselves. He's been great about his diet this year and is buying in, which is allowing him to compete at a high level."
Cloud County nearly picked up a third win at 149-pounds when redshirt freshman Bryce Gfeller flipped MSU's Kyle Kintz on his back and appeared to have the pin late in the first period.
Instead, Gfeller had to settle for the two-point takedown and four back points to take a 7-3 lead. Kintz then came out aggressive in the second period and pinned Gfeller in 3:53.
"We asked Bryce to weigh in at 142 pounds (Thursday), so he was giving up seven pounds before he stepped on the mat," Cole said. "We thought he had the pin, little bit of a bad break with the official not slapping the mat, and then we just didn't continue to capitalize after that. But I think we'll see some better stuff out of him (Gfeller) again tomorrow night."
Friday's dual against Western State Colorado University will be a homecoming of sorts for Cole, who was a three-year starter for the Mountaineers and a member of their RMAC Championship team in 2009. He graduated in 2013.
"I haven't been back (to Gunnison) since I graduated, so it'll be a good experience," Cole said. "Hopefully we take what we learned tonight to go up against the No. 9 ranked team in NCAA Division II. It's not all about wins and losses right now, but we talked as a team after tonight's dual about being in the fight and learning from our mistakes."
125 Blayne Harris (Cloud County) win by forfeit
133 Dakota Miller (Cloud County) over Tim Romero (CMU) (Dec 11-7)
141 Eduardo Penha (CMU) over Tyren Castonguay (Cloud County) (Fall 4:05)
149 Kyle Kintz (CMU) over Bryce Gfeller (Cloud County) (Fall 3:53)
157 #11 Payton Tawater (CMU) over Quentin Jiner (Cloud County (TF 18-2 2:21)
165 #12 Jason Buhr (CMU) over Noah Aziere (Cloud County) (MD 15-5)
174 Donald Negus (CMU) over Matthew Cruickshank (Cloud County) (TF 18-3 4:57)
184 Patrick Romero (CMU) over Jayden Creach (Cloud County) (Fall 4:24)
197 Hunter Mooring (CMU) over Zach Bowen (Cloud County) (MD 16-5)
285 #4 Benny Hernandez (Cloud County) over Clayton Voytilla (CMU) (10-7)