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Tribune Staff

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Sophomore Megan Smith reaches for the ball during the Trappers' season-opening victory against Williston State College on Monday. The Trappers resume their season in Gillette against Colorado Northwestern this Friday afternoon. Tribune photo by Randal Horobik

NWC goes wire-to-wire against Williston state

One season after suffering a broken leg, Mckenzie Garrett returned to Ken Rochlitz Court, netting team highs of 20 points and four steals to go along with seven rebounds as the Northwest College Trappers scored a 73-59 women's basketball victory over Williston State College.

As far as first games go, Trapper head coach Janis Beal couldn't have asked for much more. Northwest led wire-to-wire in its season opener. After holding Williston scoreless for a 4:30 stretch of the first half, during which time the Trappers pushed a 12-8 lead into a 22-8 advantage, NWC's lead was never out of double digits.

When it comes to rodeo pedigrees, Northwest College sophomore Cayd Kluesner certain can boast one. The Ririe, Idaho, native has been around the sport pretty much all his life.

“My granddad rode saddle broncs and started the Intermountain Professional Rodeo Association,” he notes. “My dad rode broncs. My uncle rode in the pros. I started when I was in the eighth grade, but I just took a different way.”

The Northwest College Trappers, ranked eighth nationally in the NJCAA preseason poll, raise the curtain on the 2010-2011 wrestling season this Saturday as the college hosts the annual NWC Open tournament.

“It's a lot like the NFL preseason,” said Trapper head coach Jim Zeigler. “The biggest thing we want to get out of it is experience in competition. These will be the first college matches for a lot of these kids. The focus really isn't on winning. It's on getting out there and focusing on execution, on bouncing back from adversity if you lose and getting an idea of what you need to work on.”

In accordance with that philosophy, all healthy Northwest College wrestlers will see action at the home meet. Some of those NWC grapplers, like wrestlers from other schools in attendance, might choose to enter as unattached wrestlers.

“By not being affiliated, they can compete and still maintain the option to take a redshirt during the season,” Zeigler explained. “We leave the decision up to them to attach or stay unattached.”

Northwest College, Montana State University, Northern, Minot State University, the University of Great Falls and Western Wyoming are expected to field full lineups on Saturday. Partial lineups and unattached wrestlers from the University of Wyoming, Utah State, Northern Colorado, Utah Valley, Dickinson State, Jamestown and North Idaho will also attend.

Wrestling action will begin at 9 a.m. in Hank Cabre Gymnasium. Semifinal action should start in the mid-afternoon with the finals and placing rounds anticipated to get a late-afternoon start.

“Depending on how many entries we have, I would imagine to be finished somewhere between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.,” Ziegler said. “Folks who want to see a little wrestling can just pop in for an hour or two anytime during the day and probably see a lot of Northwest kids compete. The more hardcore fans will come and camp out in the stands.”

“This is a good early measuring stick for the kids,” said Zeigler. “They've been dying and waiting for it.”

If it was a Hollywood movie, this would be the point where perseverance and persistance pay off. A season filled with difficulty would be dogpiled under teammates celebrating at center court amid tears of joy.

In a perfect world, that's how this week would go.

But these are the cold, hard streets of reality. Adversity doesn't back down for a fuzzy feel-good tale. Here, the truth is that, barring something exceptional, volleyball season for the defending Region IX North champion Northwest College Trappers will probably come to an end. Quite possibly, the Trappers may have served their final volleyball of the year Wednesday night while the ink was drying on this page.

That was not the script that Trapper head coach Flavia Siqueira saw when she gazed upon Northwest's 2010 season back in early August. Fresh off a national tournament appearance, the Trappers were ranked No. 25 in the NJCAA preseason poll. Siqueira was convinced the ranking was too low and, truth be told, it probably was.

Unfortunately, we'll never know.

The record book will show that the 2010 Trappers finished with a regular season mark of 21-16. In reality, the 2010 Trappers never took the court.

Before Northwest could even step onto the floor to begin its year against Snow College — one of 20 NWC opponents to spend time in the NJCAA rankings this season —injuries started to take their toll. They never stopped.

At the Wyo-braska tournament in mid-September, an opposing coach confided in Siqueira that he wished her team were healthy so he could play her on even terms. She replied that he still could — simply remove three starters from his lineup. Presumably, he declined the offer. After a top-10 program paid a visit to Powell, in a post-match moment of levity, the Mustangs' coach was overheard telling Siqueira her team scared the heck out of him if it ever got healthy.

They could see the difference between what was and what could have been.

At least one of the Trappers' players has been unable to participate much in team practices for more than two months outside of riding an exercise bike and observing. Her use in games has been on an as-needed and an as-you-feel-up-to-it basis. In all, three members of the Trappers' roster are scheduled to undergo knee surgery following the season's end.

That figure happens to equal the number of players on the school's 13-member roster who remained healthy enough to appear in each of the Trappers' 37 regular-season matches. Yes, it really has been that sort of year in these parts — the spirit has been willing, but the body hasn't always cooperated.

That's why, when pairings for this week's Region IX North tournament were announced and fate delivered the final coup de grace by matching the Trappers against Laramie County Community College, a program stripped of 20 wins but still loaded with the bulk of the talent that earned it a top-10 national ranking for most of the season, they simply took the news in stride. To prepare for the game, Siqueira spent the past week practicing six different possible rotations with the Trappers.

Why six? Because, as of Monday evening, she still wasn't certain which players would actually be available when the tournament opened in Glendive, Mont., last night (Wednesday).

That's hardly new. NWC has employed about as many different linueps this season as Rubik's Cube has permutations. Players recruited as setters have learned the finer points of hitting. Players accustomed to primarily living life on the back row have learned a thing or two about blocking and blockers have been pressed into duty as outside hitters.

Some programs preach to kids to learn their job and do it well. This fall, Northwest has pleaded for players to learn each others' jobs out of sheer necessity. Say what you want about the past two seasons, but this arguably may have been Siqueira's best coaching job to date due to the sheer level of creativity required to keep the Trappers winning during this season of attrition.

That fact, most likely, will go unnoticed. Recognition, after all, tends to go to coaches whose teams hold trophies at season's end, not those whose players are seemingly held together with duct tape and baling wire.

As I said, in a perfect world, this would be the weekend where the planets align and a season of hardships would be cast away in a do-you-believe-in-miracles sort of moment. Unfortunately, this isn't a perfect world and we're left to wonder what may have been.

Just when I thought I'd seen all the addicting TV shows, I stumbled onto GEO Channel's “Taboo” on Halloween night. Just when I try to get out, they pull me back in, and this time I almost OD'd on a four-hour-marathon of episodes. I'd say pound-for-pound, “Taboo” is even better than Spike's “1,000 Ways to Die,” or ID Channel's, “Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry.”

Watching such Taboo segments as “Weird Love” and “Misfits” left me feeling downright normal and functional — things I haven't felt in years. Watching these true accounts in the wee hours from my couch in my underwear with two cats purring on my lap as I devoured an entire bag of Cheetos, I said aloud, “Wow; some of these odd ducks are crazier than a pet coon!” I heard my dog Trinity whisper, “You got that right, Dude!”

An hour segment titled “Weird Love” profiled “Doll husbands” — men in serious relationships with latex dolls and mannequins. Some refer to their life-sized girlfriends as “organic partner,” but hey: a rose by any other name smells just as rubbery.

Psychologists call this so-called “abnormal” practice a form of Asperger Syndrome and “Pygmalionism.” “These kind of latex relationships are likely to stunt a man's social development,” one said. Yeah, right! I think that's quite a stretch. Label it what you will … Pygmalianism, Fignewtonism, whatever. To each his own, I say.

My friend Jen Debates affectionately calls me “Asexual Freak Show,” just because I've not dated in five years, but if my cable is ever disconnected, I'd probably get back in action. Unlike these Doll husbands though, I need at least a little live interaction in my romances. If I don't hear something like, “I said ‘stop touching me'!” it just doesn't work for me.

It does work for Howard though, a 37-year-old telemarketer who's legally married to a life-size rubber mannequin he named Shandoray. It was kind of sweet watching him dress her up and taking her out to cuddle on a park bench. Howie carries a picture of Shandoray in his wallet and says he's been with her monogamously for over six years. That's long after she lost that intoxicating “new rubber wife smell,” I'm sure.

An English chap named Everard is a little less morally traditional, as he has nine doll wives. He's seen cooing to his latest conquest, Caroline, “The others can't wait to meet you.” Everard admits he “has trouble with social interaction,” but he sure does some excellent hair and makeup work on his latex harem. When they showed all nine of them together, except for the no-moving/breathing thing, they looked truly alive. I felt guilty admitting to myself that a few of those gals actually bordered on hot!

You know what though? Jen can call me Asexual Freak Show if she wants, but all pet names aside, I'm perfectly happy for now. Sure, I could go out and find some latex tramp any night of the week; I just prefer not to. Sometimes being in an unhappy relationship with the wrong rubber woman can be far more lonely than being all alone.

The episode titled “Misfits” profiled societal rejects who scratch out humiliating, meager livings like “Rat-catchers” in India. But even rat catchers probably look down their noses at Arthur Bort, a British bloke who lives solely on a diet of roadkill. “His supermarket is the highway and his butcher is the car,” the narrator explained. Arthur isn't poor; he just “hates to see protein go to waste and is opposed to livestock grazing.”

Art proudly talks up his roadkill diet, although he does occasionally have to eat crow. But not always, as he was shown scraping up a freshly-flattened Red-Legged Partridge with tire tracks that I guessed was left by an older model Buick. Friends of Arthur's, a normal-looking married couple, were filmed at his table enjoying some of his “Badger Casserole.” Nothing goes to waste in Arthur's kitchen — not even the badger's head, of which Arthur painstakingly nibbled every scant trace of meat.

Watching that feast didn't make me hungry or anything, but let's face it: what we typically eat is just a matter of tradition and conditioning. In some cultures, they eat dog, skunk, and even cauliflower. And lest we forget, they eat horses, don't they?

Observing these Taboo fruitcakes really made me appreciate what I have. Giddy from my Cheetos and Mountain Dew high, I surveyed my two dogs and five cats and said, “I'm glad you guys are real and not made of rubber!”

A Northwest College student illustrated the poor judgment and lack of reasoning and coordination that go hand in hand with binge drinking last week when he allegedly stole a van near one of the residence halls. By the time police officers apprehended him a short time later, he had crashed into two fences, a police car and two other vehicles, court documents say. Officers reported he smelled strongly of alcohol.

Ironically, the incident occurred during Alcohol Awareness Week at the college, with members of the P.A.R.T.Y. group sponsoring activities and events during the week to get the message out about the dangers and consequences of binge drinking.

This young man has already had a lesson about the consequences of his actions, and those consequences likely will continue to pile up over coming weeks and months. All of them could have been avoided if he had made wiser choices. He's fortunate that he didn't kill himself or someone else.

But the news isn't all bad. Alcohol Awareness Week also focused on the fact that most Northwest College students don't binge drink. Statistics show 31 percent of NWC students binge drink. That's 10 percent fewer than the 41 percent average at colleges and universities nationwide, according to a report by the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. Binge drinking was defined as drinking five or more drinks on the same occasion on at least one day in the past 30 days.

Still, that's far too high. That means three NWC students out of every 10 have engaged in binge drinking. That increases the likelihood they will get in trouble with the law by driving drunk or doing some other foolish thing that they never would consider if they were sober. By binge drinking, they also increase the risk that they will become the victims of crimes —or at the very least, of bad choices with lasting consequences.

Binge drinking frequently leads to use of illicit drugs as well. The survey report states, “Underage persons who reported binge drinking were almost nine times more likely to have used marijuana/hashish during the past month and were more than six times more likely to have used any illicit drug other than marijuana during the past month compared with underage persons who did not binge drink.”

The P.A.R.T.Y. group continues to challenge students to evaluate their use or non-use of alcohol through an E-Checkup program. As an incentive, NWC President Paul Prestwich has said he will dye his hair red if 600 students complete the E-Checkup online by Nov. 18.

The group is to be commended for its efforts to curb drinking, particularly binge drinking, by NWC students. Those students would be wise to listen, and to act accordingly, to avoid learning hard lessons of their own.

Louella Stevens died Friday, Oct. 29, 2010, at Eagle Cliff Manor in Billings. She was 78.

(Nov. 12, 1919 - Nov. 2, 2010)

Anne Dorman died Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010, surrounded by family and friends at the Powell Hospital following a fall and hip surgery. She was 90.

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This grizzly bear was photographed near Cub Creek in Yellowstone National Park Oct. 19. There are a record number of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and some are getting into trouble, possibly because the bears are exceeding their carrying capacity in grizzly habitat. Courtesy photo/Neale Blank

A deer hunter in the South Fork area killed a grizzly bear sow Oct. 27 when the bear attacked him.

The lone hunter was in the Aldrich Creek drainage in the upper South Fork of the Shoshone River when he encountered a 10 to 12-year-old sow, a news release from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department said.

The sow had two yearling cubs in tow and thought her offspring were threatened, said Mark Bruscino, Game and Fish bear management program supervisor in Cody.

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Up to 3,000 cows may be tested this week

Teams of veterinarians are testing up to 3,000 cows for brucellosis in the Meeteetse area after preliminary tests showed three cows from a herd in that area may be infected with the bacterial disease.

Dr. Jim Logan, the Wyoming state veterinarian, said Monday that teams of vets would test cattle every day this week. He estimated up to 3,000 cows would be tested, including the herd the three cows came from and cattle in up to nine other herds that mingled with this one on summer grazing allotments.

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