Eight earn national bids

Strong weekend propels Trapper wrestling

Posted 2/22/24

Eight wrestlers will be making their way to the NJCAA National Championships next weekend in Council Bluffs, Iowa, after the Northwest College wrestling team excelled in the NJCAA Plains District …

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Eight earn national bids

Strong weekend propels Trapper wrestling


Eight wrestlers will be making their way to the NJCAA National Championships next weekend in Council Bluffs, Iowa, after the Northwest College wrestling team excelled in the NJCAA Plains District Championships at home this past weekend.

“It was outstanding, we are thrilled,” coach Jim Zeigler said. “We knew it was possible … Anything is possible when you are competing and we showed up ready to compete. To actually come through with eight guys was really good.”

Northwest was led by Aziz Fayzullaev, who returned to the top of the 184 pound weight class after a strong weekend.

After a first round bye he earned a 17-2 tech fall at the 4:31 mark in the semifinals to set up a rematch with Western Wyoming’s Darion Johnson. In January, Johnson accounted for Fayzullaev’s lone defeat in his Northwest career.

Fayzullaev got his revenge, earning a 3-2 decision to take the top spot heading to the national tournament.

“He hasn’t been able to train on a regular basis prior to that but since the Apodacas he has been training pretty steady,” Zeigler said. 

He was selected as the outstanding wrestler of the tournament.

Northwest had three more finalists over the weekend. Caleb Nadig started with a bye before earning a 2:44 pin in the semifinal to advance to the championship round.

He fell in the final 4-1 to Western Wyoming’s Tristan Stafford, and survived a challenge from the third place competitor with an 8-1 decision to secure the second seed at nationals.

“I felt like we were the better wrestler (in the final), it was unfortunate that Caleb had a bad break in the match. They called a potentially dangerous situation with Caleb in the advantageous position. I think it was the difference in winning or losing. I’m not going to say whether it was the right call or the wrong call but it’s difficult to lose it that way,” Zeigler said. “That (challenge) is a difficult match for a second place guy coming off a difficult loss like that … it was tough and he held the other guy off. The other guy is good, so I was proud of him (Nadig).”

The third place winner can challenge the second place competitor to earn a higher seed if they had not already faced each other in the tournament.

Orrin Jackson followed a similar path at 165 pounds, earning a bye before winning via a 20-5 tech fall in the semifinal to advance to the championship.

He fell into a difficult situation and was eventually pinned at the 1:53 mark to Jayden Luttrell of Western Wyoming, but was unchallenged for the two seed.

“He got in a situation and got caught, it was over that quick. I’d love to see that full match — we will get another chance,” Zeigler said.

Cody Pinkerton had a bye at heavyweight before earning a pin at the 6:03 mark in the semifinals to set up another matchup against Western Wyoming’s Dmarian Lopez who Pinkerton had defeated twice previously this year.

He fell via a 7-1 decision, and remained unchallenged for the No. 2 seed.

“I’m glad it happened last weekend and not next,” Zeigler said. “It’s really hard to beat a guy three times in a row, especially a guy of that caliber, he’s a quality wrestler. Cody has been the top guy all year and we expect he will be right back up there. We don’t consider it a stumble or a slip, we just consider it one of those days where it didn’t work out in Cody’s favor that day but more times than not it will.”

Kaiden Rubash earned his place at the national tournament at 133 pounds after winning by pin in 3:41 in the quarterfinal before falling in the semifinal via a 7-5 decision.

He battled back in the consolation semifinal and earned a pin in 1:28 and placed third with a pin in 3:26 to finish 3-1 on the weekend.

Jack Lounsbury advanced to the national tournament at 157 pounds despite losing his quarterfinal match by major decision 16-5.

He had a bye in the first consolation round before winning the consolation semifinal by injury default in the second period, and placed third by injury default in the first period.

Lounsbury then challenged for the No. 2 seed, but fell by tech fall 16-1 in the third period and ended his weekend 2-2.

Jesse Thornton placed fourth at 174 pounds after going 2-2, but was chosen as a wild card qualifier.

“Jesse was a great get for us and for him,” Zeigler said. “He’s been right there on the verge of it. He believed in himself and came through. I was proud of him.”

Josh Womack finished 1-2 at 197 pounds but was also selected as a wild card qualifier for nationals.

“Momentum, I credit it to the leadership of those top four guys making it to the finals and sticking together as a team,” Zeigler said. “When one guy wins it fires up the rest of them and I think they fed off of that momentum.”

Treyson Davila’s season ended after going 0-3 at 141 pounds.


Northwest will now take the time to train over the rest of this week and into next week before heading to Iowa to take part in the NJCAA National Championships on March 1-2.

“I feel like training hard is to our advantage at this point. I feel like they feed well off the intensity. They’re a younger group and training them hard keeps them sharp,” Zeigler said. “We will get our legs back when we get to Omaha.”

Northwest will travel on Tuesday to Omaha, Nebraska, which is located just across the border from Council Bluffs.