No. 12 T-Birds receive pins from Miller, Aziere and Cruickshank in regular season finale

Cloud County freshman Matthew Cruickshank earned a pin at 184 pounds during Thursday's dual against Nebraska Wesleyan University
Cloud County freshman Matthew Cruickshank earned a pin at 184 pounds during Thursday's dual against Nebraska Wesleyan University

LINCOLN, Nebraska — The Cloud County Community College wrestling team wrapped up its regular season Thursday evening, taking a mixed squad out to Nebraska Wesleyan University.

Cloud County fell by the final of 31-18 to the Prairie Wolves in what was a chance for the No. 12 ranked T-Birds to get some reserves one final match in for the season and preparation for next weekend's West-Central District Tournament.

"We wrestled a little flat (Thursday), which is kind of concerning this close to the district tournament. But we haven't backed off this week. We've been training for the district tournament and not necessarily this dual," said Cloud County head coach, Cody Cole. "It could have been a little bit of that going on. But we did see some nice individual performances and got some other guys who may not be in the lineup we take to the district tournament a chance to get one more match in a Cloud County uniform."

One of those performances came from freshman Dakota Miller, the No. 7 ranked 133-pounder at the NJCAA level, as Miller wrestled up a weight class Thursday and earned a pin of Nebraska Wesleyan's Jaden Duran in 2:57.

"We had hum wrestle up because we wanted to get Albert Werden another match at 133 pounds. He's a freshman that we hope comes back next year and does big things for us," Cole said. "Dakota was more than happy to bump up for us. He gave up an early take down, but then turned it on."

Cloud County also received a pins from sophomore Noah Aziere at 165 pounds and from freshman Matthew Cruickshank at 184 pounds.

Aziere made quick work of Kendrick Frazier, earning the victory in a fall time of 1:10.

"It was a really good match for Noah. He got his offense going, got a takedown and looked good on top during the time he got to wrestle," Cole said.

As for Cruickshank, the freshman continued to impress as he picked up a victory in a fall time of 3:23 over Matthew Fricke wrestling up a weight class at 184 pounds.

After taking a 6-0 lead in the first period, Cruickshank was able to turn his opponent on top from the starting whistle and complete the pin just 23 seconds into the second period.

In the last few weeks, Cruickshank has been cutting weight so the T-Birds could pencil him in at 174 pounds before the district tournament and Cole said he is on pace to do just that.

"Matt weighed in pretty close to 174 but wrestled up for us and looked really good," Cole said. "He was explosive and is coming on at the right time of the year. You can see the major improvements he has made. He's followed his weight plan and should be ready to go at 174 pounds for the district tournament."

The T-Birds will now turn their attention toward the West-Central District Tournament, scheduled for Saturday, February 16 out in Parsons, Kansas.

Cloud County qualified six wrestlers for the national tournament a year ago during its inaugural season and the hope is to best that mark this season.

"We'll put 10 guys out there (at districts) and all 10 guys we're confident have the ability to qualify for nationals," Cole said. "We'll have a hard push here in practice the next four days or so. Obviously, having 10 qualifiers would be great and we have guys we think are capable of making the finals. Austin Eldredge (149) would be one of those guys. Benny Hernandez (285) is another guy I can see in the finals and Dakota, if he keeps going with his offense, is also very capable of making the finals."  

RESULTS

125        Eron Haynes (Nebraska Wesleyan) over Blayne Harris (Cloud County) (Fall 6:30)

133        Ryan Smales (Nebraska Wesleyan) over Albert Werden (Cloud County) (MD 10-2)

141        Dakota Miller (Cloud County) over Jaden Duran (Nebraska Wesleyan) (Fall 2:57)

149        Brayden Dowding (Nebraska Wesleyan) over Tanner McGivney (Cloud County) (Dec 5-4)

157        Jared Nickman (Nebraska Wesleyan) over Quentin Jiner (Cloud County) (Dec 4-2)

165        Noah Aziere (Cloud County) over Kendrick Frazier (Nebraska Wesleyan) (Fall 1:10)

174        Daniel Alonzo (Nebraska Wesleyan) win via forfeit

184        Matthew Cruickshank (Cloud County) over Matthew Fricke (Nebraska Wesleyan) (Fall 3:23)

197        Ben Lodema (Nebraska Wesleyan) over Zach Bowen (Cloud County) (Dec 6-2)

285        Justin Hennessy (Nebraska Wesleyan) over Michael Dorer (Cloud County) (Fall 1:30)