MOSES LAKE — Hunter Cruz finished his high school wrestling career as a three-time state placer and two-time state champion.
Soon, he’ll vie for a national championship.
The Moses Lake standout announced his commitment to wrestle for Fresno State University on Saturday.
“The recruitment process was fun, but it was really stressful,” Cruz said. “I am absolutely blessed to continue to do the sport I love and the fact that it is a D-1 program is just a bonus.”
Cruz considered Wyoming and was scheduled to visit Oklahoma this week, however, the team chemistry of Fresno State helped the program separate itself.
“What stood out to me about Fresno was how close the team was and the bond was between the guys,” he said. “Usually other teams have their little cliques and stuff, but Fresno just felt like one big family.”
In their first year of competition since 2006, the Bulldogs finished top five in attendance, packing in on average 4,566 fans into the Save Mart Center.
Cruz qualified for the state tournament all four years at Moses Lake. Cruz’s first championship came his junior season at 152 pounds after he defeated friend Izaiah Duran of Battle Ground 2-1 in overtime. That performance was followed this season with a 1-0 win over Nathan Marin of South Kitsap in the 160-pound title match.
Trey Long was Moses Lake’s last multi-state champion. Long won his championships in 2014 and 2015.
In addition to his high school competition, Cruz traveled outside of Washington to compete against the best prep wrestlers across the country. Most recently, Cruz took third place at FloNationals in Indiana, Penn.
Cruz also identified with the fervor around the Fresno State wrestling program and the California wrestling culture.
“California has some of the top wrestlers in the country,” he said. “Most of those kids come from schools in or around Fresno. So, the community is rich with wrestling... So, I don’t think the environment will be much different than Moses, just on a way bigger stage.”