Freshman Zach Loveless, the nation’s top-ranked grappler at 141 pounds, demonstrated why he holds that lofty position, adding two more victories to his school-record win total in Portland. After receiving a quarterfinal bye, Loveless scored a 5-2 decision win over Southwest Oregon’s Quinn Johnston in the semifinals before capturing the regional title with a narrow 4-3 decision win over North Idaho’s Jarrett Morrill.
“Zach wrestled real steady,” said Trapper head coach Jim Zeigler. “He did what he needed to do there.”
Sophomore Colton Thornton (157) and freshman Diorian Coleman (165) also reached the championship match at the tournament, but both came away with runner-up finishes at the regional event. Thornton was forced to wrestle in the quarterfinals and scored a 10-4 win over North Idaho’s Nico Moreno. In the semifinals, he added a 7-3 decision victory over Western Wyoming’s Dixon Richins. His run came to an end in the championship bout against Southwest Oregon’s Zach Martin in a 4-2 loss that left him second.
“Colton just waited too long to get it rolling in the finals, I think,” said Zeigler. “He wrestled well, but he had a bad match in the finals.”
Coleman’s weekend started with a bye in the quarterfinal round. In the semifinals he scored a 4-2 win over Southwest Oregon’s Tyler Strenke. In the championship he lost a 3-2 decision to North Idaho’s Ryan Zumwalt.
“Diorian wrestled really well,” said Zeigler. “He lost in the finals on a controversial call to a kid that’s really top-notch. He wrestled well throughout the weekend for us.”
Other Trappers earning a spot in the national tournament included Cody Vichi (125), T.J. Guild (133), Colby Kloetzer (149) and Jarrett Baker (197).
Vichi placed third in his division after scoring an opening win by fall in the first period of his quarterfinal match. He was bumped to the consolation bracket in a 10-4 loss in the semifinals before storming back with another first-period win by fall and then a 1-0 decision victory over Clackamas’ Sage Ornlias in the consolation finals.
Guild had a rough weekend, picking up just one victory. He dropped a 13-4 major decision to open the tournament, but bounced back with a 3-2 win in the consolation semifinals to assure himself of a spot on the national stage. In the third-place match, he fell victim 8-3 to Western Wyoming’s Caleb Walker to place fourth overall.
Kloetzer’s third-place finish came with a 14-1 major decision start against Southwest Oregon’s Ryan Bullock. Kloetzer was forced to injury default in the semifinals against Clackamas’ Beau Roberts, but recovered to post a 7-2 decision victory in the consolation semifinals and followed that with a 14-5 major decision win over Western Wyoming’s Dillon Karajanis.
Baker’s tournament started in the semifinals after an opening-round bye. Baker dropped a 5-4 decision in double overtime to narrowly miss a spot in the championship. He was then caught in a second-period pin in the consolation semifinals before picking up a win by forfeit to set up a challenge match.
“The way it works is if the fifth place guy hasn’t faced the fourth-place kid, he gets the opportunity to challenge him for the spot,” said Zeigler. “Jarrett was able to pin the kid, so he gets bumped to fourth place and gets the automatic spot in the national tournament. I’m glad for him as he’s a kid that can definitely score some points at nationals. My biggest concern with him was his lack of competition this season as he’d only wrestled 10 matches going into the tournament.”
Cole McArthur (174) and Braden Gibson (184) both finished in fifth place for the Trappers. McArthur narrowly missed a chance to wrestle in the semifinals after dropping a 3-2 decision to open the tournament. Jade Parsons finished 0-3 for the Trappers and in sixth place at 285 pounds.
As a team, Northwest College finished with 98 points. North Idaho placed first with 136.5 points. Clackamas foliowed in second place with 113.5 points. Rounding out the regional standings were Southwest Oregon (95.5), Western Wyoming (88.5) and Highline (82).
“Overall, we did what we needed to do to get our tickets punched and get the kids on their way there (to the national tournament),” said Zeigler. “We wrestled fairly well, but not quite as good as we did at the Apodaca Duals a couple weeks ago. We’ll need to get back to that level and we’re going back and looking at the things we did in preparation for that event and changing our routine back to what we used to prepare there.”
The NJCAA national championships take place Feb. 22-23 in Des Moines, Iowa.