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Trapper grapplers split home duals

The NWC wrestling team dropped an abbreviated dual with Montana State University-Northern in Powell on Friday night, two days after taking down the No. 14 Western Wyoming Mustangs in another home dual Wednesday night.

The No. 2 Trappers (as of the Jan. 6 national poll) are battling injuries and rested many of their starters last week, especially on Friday during a dual that featured just five bouts.

NWC head coach Jim Zeigler said these duals were viewed almost as live workouts for the upcoming Apodaca Duals (see the preview in Thursday’s Tribune), which will feature three of the top four teams in the nation.

“We were looking at them as prep time,” Zeigler said. “We just put our healthy guys out there. That created a five-on-five situation where we could at least make it a competitive dual.”

The Trappers went 1-4 in a 15-5 loss to the No. 3 Lights (NAIA) on Friday.

Brenden Turner opened the dual against MSU-Northern with a 16-1 technical fall victory over the Lights’ Doug O’Hara in the 133-pound bout.

It would prove to be the only Trapper victory of the night.

Hayden Heap, who wrestled at 157 in place of starter Kaelen Loveless, lost by a 18-1 technical fall to Edward Cheff, who is ranked No. 4 in NAIA.

Cole McArthur (174 pounds) dropped a grudge match with No. 5 Jared Miller that Zeigler believes the Trapper should have won.

“I was pleased with the way Cole wrestled but I think that he let up at one particular moment and it cost him a takedown and eventually the match,” Zeigler said. “Even though he wrestled well he didn’t wrestle complete.”

Northwest’s Jon Wixom (No. 6 at 195) came back down from down 4-3 in the third period to send his bout with No. 8 Garret DeMers into overtime, where he was quickly taken down and lost 6-4.

Wixom is now 2-2 against Demers in four matches this season.

“I thought Jon was flat,” Zeigler said. “He stood around too much, he didn’t create enough emotion.”

Northwest heavyweight Gabe Escobedo lost a 9-1 major decision to Jorrel Jones to close the dual.

Wednesday evening’s 37-9 win of Western was just another day in the office for the Trappers.

“I’m pleased, I expect to handle them,” Zeigler said of the Mustangs, over whom he holds a 14-2 lifetime record.

The coach said Ben Jorgensen (133 pounds), McArthur and Loveless highlighted Northwest’s night. Loveless won in overtime, despite not being on top of his game.

“It wasn’t his best but he found a way,” Zeigler said. “Sometimes winning ugly is to your credit.”

McArthur pinned the No. 6-ranked Kyle Foy in a bout Zeigler called “a real good win.”

Jorgensen was not spelling Turner on Wednesday, rather he was trying to prove himself as the starter.

“Turner and Ben are still competing for the spot,” the coach said. “It just goes to show that having depth and competition for the spot makes both guys better.”

Unfortunately for Northwest, depth is starting to become thinner.

After losing No. 2-ranked Jeff McCormick (157 pounds) to an emergency appendectomy, the Trappers will also be without Cody Vichi for the near future.

Vichi, ranked No. 4 at 125, will be out at least until Feb. 15 with an unspecified injury.

“We’re hoping to have him back for the regional tournament,” Zeigler said. “We’ve got to be creative in how we train him, and how we train his mind.”

Though the loss of some of their best wrestlers may have delivered a blow to the Trappers’ title hopes, Northwest’s longtime leader remains confident good things are on their way.

“We will experience some great success,” Zeigler said.

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