Free year: NWC wrestling excited for pressure-free 2021 season

Posted 11/24/20

As it has been for other teams at Northwest College, the 2020 fall has been unconventional for Trapper wrestling. Positive COVID-19 tests put a hold on the team’s wrestling practices just days …

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Free year: NWC wrestling excited for pressure-free 2021 season

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As it has been for other teams at Northwest College, the 2020 fall has been unconventional for Trapper wrestling. Positive COVID-19 tests put a hold on the team’s wrestling practices just days after starting in early October, and they weren’t able to resume until a month later.

But head coach Jim Zeigler isn’t sweating these complications; the pandemic has affected every program throughout the nation.

“We’ll be as good as anybody else,” Zeigler said.

There’s another reason Zeigler isn’t stressing: 2020 is a free year for his squad. A month ago, NJCAA announced that all 2020-21 athletic seasons won’t count against an athlete’s eligibility.

Due to the pandemic’s unpredictability, it’s possible that several meets — or even an entire season — could be axed. But with this ruling, it makes things less stressful for Zeigler and company.

“Every time we get to compete will be a bonus,” Zeigler said. “Even if we might lose an opportunity, we’ll get another chance, and that’s exciting.”

Because COVID-19 has restricted the Trappers’ ability to hold true wrestling practices, the team has focused on growing as leaders during this tumultuous fall.

“We’re still talking to coach, and he’s really good at getting us prepared mentally,” redshirt freshman Christian Dean said. “I honestly don’t think [COVID-19] is going to mess us up at all.”

With fewer opportunities to take the mat, it also frees up time for the student-athletes to focus on the “student” part of that phrase. Zeigler’s goal is for the team to post a GPA of 3.0 this year, and with the waiver, that may be easier to achieve.

“It doesn’t rush them on graduation terms,” Zeigler said. “Having this additional waiver allows them to lighten their loads and try to focus on academics. Kids often need three years to finish, particularly in sports, so this lets them get ahead.”

Another one of the coach’s goals is for his student-athletes to immerse themselves in the community. Zeigler believes that the team’s performance will only increase if the wrestlers are in sync with the surrounding area.

“I want them to get a better sense of Powell,” the coach said. “When they know Powell, it will be more comfortable as a student and easier to be successful.”

According to Zeigler, this season “isn’t about wrestling.” But make no mistake: He and his team will be prepared come 2021, when the Trappers are slated to begin competition.

“There’s no pressure,” Zeigler said. “We’ll be ready. I don’t know what the conditions are going to be for health and safety this year, but our approach has been to try to accomplish other things now and come out better than we were.”

Added Dean, “We’re a family, and we’ve stayed really close. I look forward to competing with the team, and we should be prepared.”

The Trappers’ first competition is scheduled for the weekend of Jan. 29-30 with the Apodaca Duals, hosted in Powell.

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