Head coach Jim Zeigler said the victory sent his team into the holiday break in high spirits.
“The kids were in a great mood afterwards and deservedly so,” Zeigler said. “We all felt like we set our mind to do something, and we did it.”
Northwest won conference duals against North Idaho, Clackamas and Southern Oregon.
The Cardinals began the season as the No. 2 team in the nation, one spot behind Northwest, but leapfrogged the Trappers in the most recent poll released Dec. 4.
Northwest took on the No. 4 Clackamas Cougars Saturday, and came out with a tense 21-20 victory.
“We’ve talked about nothing else but North Idaho and Clackamas for two weeks,” Zeigler said. “They wanted to go (into break) on a high note.”
The Trappers went 5-5 against North Idaho and won on the backs of three pins.
Cody Vichi (125 pounds), Ben Jorgensen (133) and Miles Nixon (184) all beat their Cardinal foe by way of fall.
Two of the bouts that ended in pins featured two of the top 10 NJCAA wrestlers in that weight class.
No. 3 Vichi pinned No. 6 Jared Miller at 5:19, No. 5 Jorgensen took down No. 9 Carlos Lozoya at 3:52 and No. 1 Nixon fell Matt Hopkins (unranked) at 5:50.
Vichi and Jorgensen opened the dual with back-to-back pins to give Northwest a 12-0 lead, but North Idaho closed the gap with wins at 141 and 149 pounds.
No. 1 Zac Loveless (141 pounds) lost an 8-4 decision to North Idaho’s No. 5 Terrance McKinney and Trapper Hayden Heap (149) lost a major decision 16-4 to No. 1 Jeremy Golding.
Zeigler said Loveless should have won his bout with McKinney.
“If we wrestle that match 10 times we win nine of them,” the coach said.
No. 7 Jeff McCormick and No. 1 Diorian Coleman notched wins for the Trappers, each by a decision.
McCormick upset No. 1 Nicholas Moreno 3-2 in the 157-pound bout and Coleman bested No. 6 Derrick Booth 7-2 at 165 pounds.
Nixon’s pin in the third to last match put Northwest up by 14 points, which clinched the victory for the Trappers.
Four of the five Trapper losses came against ranked opponents.
Jonathan Wixom (197) was pinned by No. 1 VJ Giulio.
Heavyweight Gabriel Escobedo dropped a 7-1 decision to No. 3 Taylor Kornoely.
The bout in which Cole McArthur lost 10-5 to Johnathen Dennis was the only match that did not feature a wrestler ranked in the top 10.
Heap wrestled in place of Kaelen Loveless, who was ill.
As was the case against North Idaho, pins were the key to victory against Clackamas on Saturday.
For the Trappers, avoiding a pin turned out to be the biggest moment of the dual.
Escobedo did everything in his power to elude a six-point loss in the dual’s final bout as Northwest nursed a five-point lead.
The undersized heavyweight was outmatched by about 50 pounds and found himself on his back in the bout’s first 20 seconds. But Escobedo escaped the pin and went the distance in the 9-1 loss to No. 6 Brandon Johnson.
“It was pretty amazing that Gabe was able to fight off his back, he didn’t give up,” Zeigler said.
Wixom pinned No. 9 Ihoughama Odigizuwa in the 197-pound bout to bring the Trappers from down one to up five.
“Jon came through with a pin, and that was a huge, huge match,” Zeigler said. “When it was Jon’s choice we put him in the top position and he turned the guy and pinned him.”
The dual began with another pin by Cody Vichi. The sophomore pinned former Trapper Kamron Day at the 2:59 mark to set the tone for the meet.
The Trappers beat Southern Oregon Community College by a score of 37-9 and a 7-3 record on Saturday.
Brenden Turner (133 pounds), Zac Loveless, McCormick and Nixon each pinned their Laker opponents.
Vichi won by a 13-3 major decision, McArthur won 5-2 and Wixom won via forfeit.
Coleman’s 3-2 loss to unranked Andrew Orr was an upset Zeigler wants to have back, as it may hurt Coleman’s seed in the regional duals.
“It’s a loss that you don’t want to have,” the coach said.
Heap lost 4-0 to Aaron Nabinger-Villarin and Escobedo dropped a 2-1 decision to Caleb Green.
The Trappers have remained in good health throughout the first half of the season and will look to rest their minds more than their bodies during their two-week break.
“The object here is just to take a breather,” Zeigler said. “Enjoy your family, enjoy your time off.”