Cruickshank, Hernandez score wins in Thursday's dual against Newman Jets

Cloud County freshman Matthew Cruickshank won a 14-11 decision over Ivan Balavage in Thursday's dual against Newman University.
Cloud County freshman Matthew Cruickshank won a 14-11 decision over Ivan Balavage in Thursday's dual against Newman University.

WICHITA, Kansas — The Cloud County Community College wrestling program was back on the mats Thursday for a dual against its third straight NCAA Division II opponent, Newman University.

Cloud County fell by a final score of 37-6 on a night that saw plenty of bright spots.

"I thought as a team we wrestled a lot better than we did against Colorado Mesa and Western State," said Cloud County head coach, Cody Cole. "We had a lot of close matches throughout the lineup (Thursday)."

The T-Birds received match wins from freshman Matthew Cruickshank at 184-pounds and sophomore heavyweight Benny Hernandez continued his dominant start to the season with a win at 285-pounds.

Cruickshank came out energized in his match against Ivan Balavage, jumping out to a 10-0 lead and holding on late for a 14-11 decision to improve to 3-4 overall on the season

"Matt came through with a big victory for us and we've seen him leaps from him," Cole said. "Last week he kind of struggled, but now he's starting to find some good offense on his feet."

As for Hernandez, ranked as the No. 4 heavyweight at the NJCAA level, he grinded out a 3-1 victory over Newman's Thor Balavage.

"Benny continued to dominate," Cole said. "Even though it was a 3-1 final score, I thought he controlled the match the whole time, being offensive and moving (Balavage) around the entire time."

The T-Birds had additional opportunities for points Thursday, but had a few miscues get magnified in a handful of matches, starting at 125 pounds with freshman Blayne Harris.

Harris put himself in position to earn a win late in the third period, trailing just 4-3, but two quick moves from Newman's Blake Sargent flipped Harris to his back and resulted in a 10-3 decision.

In the ensuing 133-pound match, Concordia native Blake Leiszler got off to a good start and owned an early lead against Tyler Lawley. Unfortunately, Leiszler was unable to hold on as the match progressed into the third period as he pinned in a fall time of 5:31.

"Blake wrestled really well early, got a lot of takedowns against a tough redshirt junior," Cole said. "We just have to finish the match at the end there. We gave up some silly points."

Cloud County sophomore Noah Aziere also suffered a heartbreaker at 165-pounds as he was dead even with Newman's Noah Perkins at 6-6 late into the third period before a takedown with 13 seconds remaining left the T-Birds on the wrong side of an 8-6 decision.

The T-Birds will now take a break from its dual schedule as they prepare to head off to the University of Nebraska-Kearney Holiday Inn Open set to get underway at 9 a.m. on Saturday.



125        Blake Sargent (Newman) over Blayne Harris (Cloud County) (Dec 10-3)

133        Tyler Lawley (Newman) over Blake Leiszler (Cloud County) (Fall 5:31)

141        Kevin Kissane (Newman) over Bryce Gfeller (Cloud County) (TF 19-1 5:47)

149        Kameron Frame (Newman) over Tanner McGivney (Cloud County) (Fall 1:59)

157        Tyler Mies (Newman) over Quentin Jiner (Cloud County) (TF 17-2 4:49)

165        Noah Perkins (Newman) over Noah Aziere (Cloud County) (Dec 8-6)

174        Nate Panagakis (Newman) over Jayden Creach (Cloud County) (Fall 2:13)

184        Matthew Cruickshank (Cloud County) over Ivan Balavage (Newman) (Dec 14-11)

197        Jacob Stoneberger (Newman) over Zach Bowen (Cloud County) (Dec 12-6)

285        Benny Hernandez (Cloud County) over Thor Balavage (Newman) (Dec 3-2)