Northwest College’s wrestling coach was as straightforward as ever following a tight loss that closed out a disappointing weekend at the Apodaca Dual Showdown. It brought into question the ceiling of this year’s Trappers.
“I think we’ve got a lot of work to do as a team,” he said. “I hate to be too rough on our guys but they are scholarship athletes and they need to perform. I think they’re not giving their best in certain situations and I want more from them.”
A little more could have gone a long way during Friday and Saturday’s duals, which featured four ranked teams, including the top three in the nation.
The Trappers’ only win came against No. 13 Iowa Western and in between losses to No. 3 Northeastern Oklahoma and No. 1 North Idaho.
The team took Sunday off and resumed practice on Monday, with an eye toward regionals.
Northwest has to find a way to wrestle to its potential, and with just two weeks between what Zeigler called a disappointing weekend and the NJCAA West District Tournament in Rock Springs on Feb. 15, the Trappers have to find that way soon.
“I’m anxious for us to get to work next week and try to evaluate what happened through the weekend and try to use those things to improve,” Zeigler said. “I hope they can evaluate where they’re at and we can all be on the same page as we move forward.
“We have time to improve and we will get a little better in the next couple weeks, I’m hoping,” he said. “We better.”
It’s not necessarily wrestling technique or fitness that is holding Northwest back. Rather, Zeigler said it was attitude.
“They’re still too shy, too timid, too nice in situations,” he said. “They need to get tougher, meaner, more aggressive.”
But the veteran coach knows changing demeanors, especially at this stage of the season, isn’t always an easy fix.
“You find out through the course of a season that certain things are a kid’s personality and there’s certain things you just can’t coach, and one of those things is toughness,” he said.
The Trappers lost their toughest dual of the weekend Saturday afternoon to North Idaho.
Northwest held a 15-10 lead but didn’t get the decision it needed from either Jon Wixom or Gabe Escobedo in the final two bouts and lost 17-15.
Ben Jorgensen (5-1 decision), Zac Loveless (16-0 tech fall), Diorian Coleman (4-1 decision) and Miles Nixon (13-0 major decision) all won for the Trappers.
Northwest’s loss in the opening dual versus Northeastern wasn’t nearly as close.
Coleman claimed the only Trappers’ win (a 6-2 decision over Brock Warren) as the host team fell 37-2.
One point was deducted from Coleman’s victory due to an unsportsmanlike penalty on Northwest.
Zeigler gave credit to what he called a more talented Northeastern team, but said his squad did not put up the fight it’s capable of.
“I think they’re clearly better than we are, but I think we were not at our best at all (Friday) night,” Zeigler said.
Northwest rebounded from Friday’s stumble out of the gate to beat Iowa Western 24-17. The Trappers went 6-4 against the Reivers and benefited from pins by Jorgensen and Nixon.
Coleman was Northwest’s only 3-0 wrestler over the weekend. Jorgensen, Loveless and Nixon were each 2-1.
Zeigler said Coleman and Loveless were his top performers.
“Those two, if the national tournament were this weekend, those are the only two that would have a chance at placing,” Zeigler said.
Loveless wins Apodaca
One Trapper notched a win before the competition even began Friday night.
Zac Loveless was named the recipient of the 2013-14 Apodaca Award during a ceremony held just prior to Northwest’s dual with Northeastern.
Loveless is Northwest’s starter at 141 pounds and is ranked No. 2 in the nation as of the most recent polls.
The Apodaca Award is chosen by Zeigler and is given to a Northwest wrestler who best represents the team while competing, training and studying.
“He just does everything right,” Zeigler said. “ He’s a great kid and he does the things that I feel like we want represented in that award.”
The coach said Loveless is the unquestioned, if unspoken, leader of the Trappers.
“Nothing’s ever said; people just know’s he’s a leader,” Zeigler said. “He just works harder than everybody else. And at the same time he has the high GPA on the team.”
Loveless could serve as a model for other Trappers, both past and present.
“He’s a kid that has a plan, sticks to it (and) works real hard at everything he does,” Zeigler said.