It was a special weekend for the Northwest College wrestling team, as the Trappers honored the memory of former Trapper Christopher Brooks Apodaca at the Apodaca Duals at Cabre Gym.
Though young and inexperienced, the Trappers held their own in a losing effort against Western Wyoming Friday and Northeastern Junior College of Sterling, Colorado, Saturday, losing by scores of 28-13 and 34-18, respectively.
“I thought Friday was pretty good,” said NWC head coach Jim Zeigler. “My record against Western Wyoming, I believe, is 47-8, but we’ve lost three in a row to them. I never thought that losing to them 28-13 at home that I would actually say ‘Hey, we did a good job.’ That definitely signals a change. I was really proud of our guys, I thought they fought and wrestled real hard.”
Freshman Porter Fox, from Kamas, Utah, received the Apodaca Award before the start of Friday’s meet. The award is given annually to the wrestler or member of the NWC wrestling program who best represents the qualities Zeigler valued in Brooks Apodaca.
Zeigler said Fox seemed to be an obvious pick early, due to his mentality and drive. But the longtime coach wasn’t sold on the idea until the day before the meet against Western.
“I kept waiting for a sign on who to pick, because something usually comes to me that just clicks; it’s weird how it happens,” he said. “But nobody was jumping off the page. Then as I thought about it, if there was one kid that made a big difference, it was Porter. He made a difference in this year’s team, and strangely enough, it wasn’t him necessarily inspiring all the guys around him. It was him inspiring me. By changing my attitude, that in turn changed the team.”
The Trappers are on the road today (Thursday) for another shot at Western Wyoming in Rock Springs.
Western Wyoming 28, Trappers 13
Though outmatched and giving up two weight classes to forfeit against Western Wyoming Friday, the Trappers won four of the eight matches wrestled against the Mustangs.
“I felt like we should have won five, or even six,” Zeigler said. “But they wrestled well.”
The coach went on to say a lot of NWC’s wins were “turnarounds,” meaning the wrestlers exacted a measure of revenge against an opponent they’d lost to previously this season. At 125 pounds, Dawson Barfuss defeated Western’s Dalton Stutzman, a wrestler who beat Barfuss by technical fall at the NWC Open in November.
“Here we are three months later, and Barfuss beats him 12-1,” Zeigler said. “It’s really a significant turnaround and a sign of improvement on our part.”
At 133 pounds, NWC’s Bobur Berdiyarov defeated Western’s Joey Revelli 5-2.
“He [Berdiyarov] was not favored to win that match, but he really wrestled technically sound,” Zeigler said. “It was the first match, really, that he’s wrestled this season that he showed real skills in terms of folkstyle, American-style wrestling.”
At 174 pounds, Yair Moran defeated Western’s Jace Anderson 5-2 in what Zeigler described as “a really good match.”
“Moran was solid, he showed maturity and control in his match,” Zeigler said. “He was able to dictate the match, the tempo, the pace. He was very calculating in his attacks.”
NWC’s Palmer Schafer’s match at 149 pounds against Jake Thompson was a wild one, according to Zeigler. Schafer won 18-11.
“It was a good win for him,” the coach said of Schafer’s performance. “But there were some strange things in that match — it was just topsy-turvy, back-and-forth. Fortunately, that worked to Palmer’s advantage against his opponent. He [Thompson] is very control-oriented in his wrestling. Palmer creating a lot of chaos in the match really worked in his favor Overall it was a good victory.”
NWC’s Fox battled hard in his 4-2 loss at 184 pounds against Western’s Jared Bird.
“He [Fox] just got beat, and that happens,” Zeigler said. “But he continued to show the effort, drive and desire that brought him to the [Apodaca] award.”
Northeastern Junior College 34, Trappers 18
Saturday’s dual against Northeastern Junior College was much more subdued, according to Zeigler, and the coach said the results were disappointing.
“I think they were still asleep,” he said. “And it started with the first match, with Barfuss getting pinned.”
Barfuss squared off against NJC’s Cian Apple at 125 pounds, and had a rough go of it, eventually getting pinned.
“He [Barfuss] was just never in the match,” Zeigler said. “In my opinion, he beat the better opponent the night before. I think our team showed a lack of maturity on the second day. You can have a lot of quality ingredients, which they’re showing, but maturity is something you just can’t force on a kid. It just takes time.”
Schafer and fellow sophomore Logan Sondrup came out on the losing end as well, with Sondrup’s match called due to injury.
“He [Sondrup] wasn’t feeling well; he was having dizzy spells,” Zeigler said. “We took him through concussion protocol on Friday, and we just didn’t want to take a chance with it on Saturday.”
That said, the dual against NJC was not without its bright spots. At 133 pounds, Berdiyarov battled back against NJC’s Quintel Fuchs for the Trappers’ first win of the dual, pinning Fuchs at the 4:42 mark.
“Bobur [Berdiyarov] was getting beat pretty good, but he found his way to a pin,” Zeigler said. “It was a good match in the sense that he’s learning to keep fighting. He fought hard when he got put on his back and was able to recover.”
At 197 pounds, NWC’s TJ Frazier pinned NJC’s Logan Malouff at the 5:29 mark, while Daniel Jordan won at 285 pounds against Oscar Soto.
“TJ [Frazier] had a good win, he needed that,” Zeigler said. “He needed a little taste of success. He hasn’t had a lot of wins this year, but he’s a fighter, he stays in there. Daniel [Jordan] was the same way, he just kept fighting and battling. Those two were definitely two of the highlights of Saturday, they came through for us.”