Head coach Jim Zeigler and his seventh-ranked Trappers will use the event to wrap up their regular season. The Trappers open the Apodaca Duals on Friday night against No. 12 Iowa Lakes in a rematch of a dual the Trappers lost 25-18 at the National Duals earlier this month. On Saturday, the team will open against Western Wyoming, looking to build upon a 24-18 early-season victory, before facing No. 3 North Idaho for the Moose Cup, a traveling trophy annually contested between the two schools.
North Idaho brings a 15-point lead into the chase for the Cup after defeating the Trappers 27-12 in Coeur d’Alene earlier this season.
“We were down 17 points last year,” Zeigler said, referencing the Trappers’ rally at last year’s Apodaca event to claim the Moose Cup for Northwest College. “There was one year we went out there and they beat us pretty good and we got back here and won 33-3 with the exact same lineups. It should be fun. It will make for a good weekend of competition.”
The Moose Cup is just a small portion of the Apodaca Duals, named in memory of Christopher Brooks Apodaca, a former Trapper wrestler killed in a car accident. The event, going on its 13th year, has been designed as a showcase for the sport of wrestling. Once again, some of the top wrestlers in the country will attend.
“Every year, we try and get the best teams we can to come here,” said Zeigler.
The 2011 event field carries on that tradition. In addition to the Trappers’ Jesse Hillhouse (133) and Nick Petersen (184), the event will also bring in No. 1 wrestlers in North Idaho’s Kyle McCrite (125) and Jamelle Jones (197). Seven other wrestlers attending were ranked in the top five of their weight classes according to the latest NJCAA wrestling poll.
“We’ve got good chances at four weights to win in all three of the duals we’ll have this weekend,” Zeigler said. “If we can get some kids to step up, we can get a dual. Our goal is to win at least six weights each time we go out.”
As with all of the Trappers’ duals this season, that goal will be made tougher by the team’s lack of a 125-pound wrestler. Injuries have forced the team to leave the weight vacant throughout this year.
Three more weight classes are unsettled at this time. Sophomore Jake Budd and freshman Jeremy Luna are battling to see who steps into the 141-pound slot for this weekend. At 165 pounds, true freshman Timber Holmquist and redshirt freshman Bernie Dupuy are being watched in practice this week to see who gets the nod. Freshmen Ben Price and Brooks Bowthorpe ard doing the same for the right to inherit the starter’s role at 197 pounds.
“We’re training hard this week and we’re going to see who wants to be the guy at those weights,” Zeigler said.
The rest of the Trappers’ dual lineup is already established. Hillhouse will go at 133 pounds, but could be spelled by freshman Marc Madsen depending on circumstance. Sophomore Bobby Robbins, previously ranked at 149 pounds this season, will have the chance to break back into the rankings as he faces three nationally-ranked opponents.
Freshman Clint Jacob will go at 157 pounds for Northwest. Freshman Keithen Cast, ranked as high as No. 2 this season, will lock down the 174-pound slot ahead of top-ranked Nick Petersen at 184. The Trappers’ lineup will be anchored at 285 pounds by redshirt sophomore Sears Tiernan.
Following the Apodaca Duals, the Trappers will take a week off before rolling the mats back out to serve as the host for the West Central Zone Championships on Feb. 12. The one-day event will determine which wrestlers from the region earn the right to advance to the national tournament.