Jun 06, 2020
Redshirt freshman Hunter Cruz gets his hand raised after getting a technical victory over Duke wrestler Kai Blake on Jan. 17 at the Save Mart Center (The Collegian/Armando Carreno)

‘Dogs sweep seasons series against Duke, but Steiner expects more

In the span of a little over a week, the Fresno State wrestling team took down the Blue Devils swiftly, beating them for the second time in eight days in front of 2,449 fans at the Save Mart Center on Friday, Jan. 17.

The Bulldogs (7-5, 2-0 Big 12) cruised past the Blue Devils (0-8, 0-0 ACC) with a 34-7 victory to start their four-game homestand.

The Bulldogs gained a huge lead without even stepping foot on the mat, as they claimed forfeit wins at 141, 149 and 165 pounds. 

Fresno State started off strong, thanks to a victory from redshirt sophomore Beau Colombini (157 lbs.), as he defeated Blue Devil junior Eric Carter. 

Colombini struck early with a quick takedown in the first period to lead 2-1. Both wrestlers scrapped and exchanged toward the end of the first period and second periods, with neither gaining any momentum heading into the third.

Despite the tight matchup, Colombini came out with a decisive third period, slamming Carter to the ground with a takedown to go up 5-3 and secure the win.

The Bulldogs earned another decision win at 197 pounds as redshirt freshman Isaiah Perez defeated freshman Vincent Baker 5-2.

Perez was able to gain control over Baker by targeting his leg in the first period and taking him down for an early lead. He held Baker to two escapes and used two takedowns to seal the win in the third period. 

The two standout victories for the Bulldogs on Friday night took place in the heavyweight and 184-pound divisions. 

At heavyweight, senior Josh Hokit did not waste any time earning a victory, making quick work of opponent Jonah Niesenbaum in just 1:26. 

Hokit added a bit of flair to his victory after being hit in the jaw with a punch to start the match, which led to him taunting Niesenbaum to come at him. 

Shortly after the exchange of gamesmanship, Hokit used two takedowns and four near falls to finish off his opponent, improving his record to 14-3. 

At 184 pounds, redshirt freshman Hunter Cruz added on to the Bulldog’s success in the win column with a technical fall victory over freshman Kai Blake. 

Blake came into the matchup with a bit of intensity to start the first period, but Cruz was not fazed as he countered with two takedowns and a near fall in the first period to lead 8-0. 

Cruz asserted himself in the second period to end the match with an escape, a near fall and a takedown.

After failing to find success against the ‘Dogs, Duke did not leave empty-handed. The Blue Devils earned an upset victory over No. 13-ranked Jackson Hemauer, who lost 12-5 to redshirt freshman Mason Eaglin. 

This was Hemauer’s first match since Dec. 7 at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invite.

In the first period, Hemauer was in complete control as he took down Eaglin and earned a near fall to lead 4-2.  

Following a stellar first period, however, Hemauer began to unravel in the second, as Eaglin used a takedown and a near fall to regain the lead 8-4. From that point and beyond, Eaglin never looked back and shocked the crowd in a huge victory. 

‘Dogs head coach Troy Steiner shared a few words on Hemauer’s first meet back and how he performed for the ‘Dogs.

“It was Jackson’s first time back since early December and you could tell he’s not in match form or midseason form,” Steiner said. “I know he can perform way better than he did, but the match got away from him.”

The ‘Dogs also suffered a loss at 133 pounds as freshman Destin Summers struggled against junior Harrison Campbell. 

Summers was moved up to 133 pounds in the meet on Friday and he was no match for Campbell. The junior from Duke took Summers down with three near falls to seal the match 11-1. 

Even though the Bulldog’s defeated the Blue Devils in what may seem to be in a convincing fashion, Steiner said that the Bulldogs performed below expectations.

“Despite the win, I think we underestimated our opponent a little bit. You can’t take anyone lightly, and if you do you’re going to be in for a battle,” Steiner said. “You have to come out and establish yourself and set the tone of the match early. I think in some of the matches tonight, I didn’t think we did that.”

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