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Trapper wrestling adding several

After watching three of his wrestlers compete for national titles this past winter, Northwest College wrestling coach Jim Zeigler isn’t having any trouble finding folks willing to step onto the mat in Powell.

“It’s gone really well,” Zeigler said of the recruiting process this spring. “We’re still looking for a big guy and I’m meeting with a kid from Washington in the near future, but I’m pleased with what we have so far.”

There’s good reason for that. The credentials sported by the wrestlers who will join the Trappers’ program in the fall are filled with accolades.

Justin Gardner and Jaksen Cotterell were first recruited by the Trappers out of high school, but ultimately chose to attend college elsewhere. The pair have been serving two-year missions and made contact with Zeigler earlier this year expressing an interest to join the Trappers.

“When they were freshmen, they had really good junior college seasons and I was kicking myself for letting them get away,” Zeigler said. “When they called back wanting to come here, I was more than happy to get them.”

Gardner will wrestle at 133 pounds while Cotterell will be looked at to wrestle at either 165 or 174. One or both could redshirt next season, Zeigler said.

“We’ll see,” he said. “Part of it will depend on how they come back after their mission.”

Nathaniel Garcia is a three-time Colorado state champion. As a high school freshman, Garcia lost the state championship match in overtime to future NWC All-American Saul Guerrero, then a senior in high school.

“He compiled a 160-5 varsity record in high school,” Zeigler said. “He’ll fill in at 141 pounds for us.”

Colton Thornton is another grappler who could compete for the 141-pound roster spot, or he could fit into the Trappers’ lineup at 149. Thornton is a three-time Utah state champion.

“Colton is just a good kid,” Zeigler said. “He’s a good wrestler, but he’s also a good individual.”

Additionally, Zeigler announced he had verbal agreements from three in-state residents to join the program next season, including Powell High School graduate Jimmy Seckman.

Seckman, the 152-pound state champion this past winter, was a four-time state qualifier for the Panthers. He was part of two state championship teams, earning one state title, a state runner-up finish as a junior and a fourth-place finish at state his sophomore season. During a four-year career, Seckman compiled a 92-31 varsity record for PHS.

“I’m excited,” Zeigler said. “I like him a lot. We sat down and visited four or five times and, along with his folks, we decided that this was the best place for him. I couldn’t be happier.”

Seckman’s future, Zeigler said, was likely as a 157-pounder for the Trappers.

Josh Hillhouse, the younger brother of 2011 national runner-up Jesse Hillhouse, will follow his brother’s footsteps to Powell after a successful career at Kelly Walsh High School. He could redshirt for a season.

“Josh weighs 127 pounds soaking wet right now,” Zeigler said. “Taking a redshirt will give him a year to develop. He’s a super-talented, tough kid though. He may be better than Jesse in some ways.”

Also coming from Kelly Walsh will be likely 149-pounder Cormick Eaton. Eaton was a state place-winner this past season despite battling a knee injury and being at what Zeigler estimated was 60 percent of his ability.

“He’s another kid I’m excited about,” Zeigler said. “He’s a solid, tough kid and we think he has great potential at this level. Jesse Hillhouse really likes him and we think he’ll be pretty good.”

The Trappers have received a verbal commitment from one more in-state prospect, but are waiting to receive a signed letter of intent back.

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