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January 20, 2009 4:14 am

Trappers overpower UGF

Written by Tribune Staff

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Northwest College's Corey Woodruff (left) battles University of Great Falls' wrestler Justin Gardner during last Thursday's dual meet in Powell. Later in the bout, Woodruff won by registering a pin from a defensive position against Gardner, who is a former NWC wrestler. Tribune photo by David Dickey

NWC posts 31-6 victory over Argos

As Jim Zeigler watched his Trappers warm up for last Thursday's dual meet with the University of Great Falls, the veteran head coach noted something different about his squad.

Instead of a timid group composed of wrestlers with little junior college experience, Zeigler noticed a team putting forth a solid pre-match effort. Their drills were done with more precision. Their sprints were run with a little more gusto. There also was a look of confidence on the faces of his wrestlers.

Said Zeigler, “When I was watching them before the match, I thought to myself, ‘Wow, it's the second semester and we've got college wrestlers now. They don't look like high school wrestlers anymore.'”

The uneasiness of competing at the junior college level is something that can overwhelm even the most promising recruit who is starting out in a new environment. For proof, Zeigler said, one needs only to watch his squad prior to the season-opening NWC Open, which annually serves as a passage from the high school to junior college ranks for a number of Trappers. With that said, Zeigler added progress is expected, and this is the time of year it typically is more noticeable.

“When the second semester starts, you expect to see the habits of collegiate athletes,” Zeigler said. “You start shaping those habits when practices start before the season. Then, all of a sudden, one day you see it. You can tell they are more focused, and you can see they are ready and wanting to win.”

Such was the case Thursday night when NWC disposed of four-year, NAIA school UGF by a score of 31-6. According to Zeigler, the third-ranked Argos brought a lineup mixed with veteran wrestlers and a number of younger ones looking to gain more collegiate experience.

“Because their program has so much depth, they felt comfortable sending a lot of their younger guys,” Zeigler said. “Great Falls has a strong team, and they are more powerful than we are. At the same time, their coach knows he doesn't have to beat us in order to win a national title. He's smart about things like that, and he saw this as a chance to get some of his younger guys some experience. I thought our wrestlers did really well, and it was the type of match we needed at this point in the season.”

Because of a number of forfeits, there were three exhibition matches to open the dual meet. The first was a heavyweight bout between UGF junior Garrett Johnson and NWC freshman Sears Tiernan. Johnson won the matchup with a pin during the first minute.

NWC then picked up 12 points after forfeit victories at 125 and 133, but the two squads still conducted exhibitions at those weight classes. At 125, Trapper freshman Eddie Whiting lost by major decision (15-0) to sophomore Richard Leal.

In the 133-pound bout, Trapper sophomore Luis Carranza posted a 7-2 decision over UGF freshman Scott Schlosser.

Trapper freshman McCade Ford then faced junior Jason Costello at 141 and suffered an 8-4 setback.

Sophomore Anthony Varnell, the Trappers' 149-pound entry, continued to make strides in his return from a knee injury sustained last year by recording a 10-3 decision over junior Blake Risk in the following bout. At 157, freshman Briston Brenton outscored redshirt freshman Noah Hatton 12-8 to put NWC ahead 18-3.

Trapper Corey Woodruff kept the momentum rolling in NWC's favor when he pinned junior and former Trapper Justin Gardner at the 2:42 mark. Woodruff registered the pin from a defensive position and while he held a 4-2 lead in the bout.

At 174, freshman Tyrell Wright defeated UGF's Cole Bausch 5-2.

“That was a big win for Tyrell,” Zeigler said. “We've been working with him, and I think his confidence is up. We were all excited for him, and that win might be the thing he needs to help him get on a roll right now.”

Both teams forfeited at 184, and the dual meet closed with the 197-pound and heavyweight bouts.

In the matchup at 197, 2008 Powell High School graduate Mak Jones faced sophomore Scott Lucas, who brought a No. 7 ranking into Thursday night's event. The two wrestlers staged a battle that brought many of the NWC faithful to their feet as they cheered for the hometown standout. Jones eventually lost 12-10 in a match that went into overtime.

“Mak's still learning,” Zeigler said. “He did quite a few good things, but he also made some freshman mistakes that hurt him. But he'll be fine, and he'll work to correct the things he did wrong. He's got a great work ethic, and he's tough. He's got a chance to be a very good college wrestler, and I know he'll do what he needs to do in order for that to happen.”

Trapper heavyweight and freshman Landon Harris closed the dual meet by registering a 14-2 victory over senior Robert Hazenberg. On his way to the major decision, Harris showed he also has more to his approach than power.

“Landon is so strong, but against Great Falls he showed there is more to him than just power,” Zeigler said. “He used some leg attacks, and showed good technique and quickness. I thought it was an impressive match for him.”

• Up next: The Trappers, who canceled last weekend's trip to Oregon City, Ore., for the Clackamas Open, have one dual meet scheduled this week. On Thursday, NWC will travel to Rock Springs to meet rival Western Wyoming Community College. That matchup has a 7 p.m. start time. The dual meet between the Trappers and Mustangs originally was scheduled for Jan. 8, but was postponed.

On Friday, Jan. 30, the Trappers will conduct day one of their annual Apodaca Dual Showdown in Powell. That tournament will carry over into the following Saturday. The start time for Friday's action is 3 p.m. The following day, Zeigler said wrestling will begin at noon.

This year's Apodaca Dual Showdown will feature NWC, Clackamas Community College, North Iowa Area Community College, Labette Community College, Southwest Oregon Community College, North Idaho College and Western Wyoming.

During the round-robin event, each team is scheduled to have four duals.

Also during the showdown, Zeigler said the Trappers will recognize this year's winner of the Brooks Apodaca Memorial Award for Leadership and Excellence. The award and event were created to honor the memory of Christopher Brooks Apodaca, a former NWC wrestler who died in a one-vehicle accident in 1998.