Harris, a defending NJCAA runner-up, powered his way through the 285-pound bracket. The sophomore scored first period wins by fall in his first two matches before scoring a 13-1 major decision win in the semifinals. For good measure, Harris topped …
Busy weekend sees NWC place five in the top four at Great FallsHeavyweight Landon Harris and 174-pounder Nick Petersen took different routes on Saturday, but both wound up at the same destination. The pair of Northwest College wrestlers each won the championship of their respective weight divisions and were part of a larger haul of five Trappers to finish among the top four at the University of Great Falls. The results were just one part of a busy 48 hours. Fifth-ranked Northwest College also split a pair of Friday wrestling duals while in Great Falls.
Harris, a defending NJCAA runner-up, powered his way through the 285-pound bracket. The sophomore scored first period wins by fall in his first two matches before scoring a 13-1 major decision win in the semifinals. For good measure, Harris topped off his day by winning by fall in just 2:16 of the championship match.
While Harris' climb through the 285-pound ranks may have seemed almost inevitable, teammate Nick Petersen's day was filled with drama. After receiving a first-round bye, the Delta, Utah, freshman scored back-to-back wins by the identical score of 4-3 to reach the championship. Petersen won the 174-pound title by a slightly less nervewracking 5-2 count.
“Nick had a nice tournament,” said NWC head coach Jim Zeigler. “The kid he faced in the championship was a former NAIA national runner-up who had beat him earlier in the year. One of his 4-3 wins came against the same Dickinson State wrestler that had pinned him the day before in our dual.”
NWC narrowly missed having a third champion as Powell sophomore Mak Jones won a pair of matches to reach the finals of the 197-pound bracket. There, he lost a 5-2 decision to a former junior college national champion.
“I'm not sure where the kid is ranked right now in the NAIA, but I guarantee he's up there,” said Zeigler. “That was definitely a quality opponent for Mak in the championship.”
Two other Trapper wrestlers placed fourth at Great Falls. Sophomore Jonathan Tiernan finished his day 5-2 overall, placing fourth at 285 pounds, ahead of teammates Sergio Pedroza (3-2 on the day) and Kyle Starling (0-2). At the other end of the wrestling weight spectrum, Philip Grout finished his day 4-2 overall and in fourth place at 125 pounds.
Grout topped teammate Jesse Hillhouse (2-2) in the consolation semifinals to reach the third-place match.
“That's quite a battle that's going on between Jesse and Philip right now at 125,” Zeigler observed, noting that both wrestlers have seen their share of success in the early season. “Both of them are wrestling well and trying to earn that spot.”
Among the Trappers not placing in the final four of the tournament, 157-pound sophomore Briston Brenton saw a string of four consecutive wins by fall come to an end in the semifinals. Brenton had won both of his Friday dual matches by fall, then began Saturday's tournament with back-to-back pins. The run ended in the semifinals and Brenton also fell in the consolation semifinals to end his day 2-2 overall.
Freshman Seth Haas went 2-2 at 141 pounds for NWC. Freshman Jarrett Baker was 2-2 in action at 184 pounds.
Seven additional Trapper wrestlers also made the weekend trip to Montana to compete.
Northwest College was without one of its top wrestlers for Saturday's tournament. Sophomore McCade Ford turned an ankle while warming up and was held out of competition as a precaution.
In Friday dual action, Northwest fell by a 22-15 count to Dickinson State University. Brenton scored the Trappers' only win by fall to win at 157. NWC also picked up decision wins by Hillhouse (125), Ford (141) and Philips (184).
The key moment in the dual, however, may have come at 174 pounds. With the Trappers ahead by a narrow 12-10 margin on the scoreboard, Petersen found himself caught in a move and pinned by his DSU opponent. The sudden loss by fall in a match where Petersen had held the lead created a nine-point swing on the team scoreboard that Northwest was unable to recover from.
The Trappers were also handicapped in the match by the absence of Harris at 285 pounds after the heavyweight remained on campus for class and was unable to reach Great Falls in time for the start of the dual.
“If Landon is there, he wins that match by fall at 285,” said Zeigler. “I'm positive he pins the other kid.”
Harris made it in time to participate in Northwest's evening dual against Simon Fraser University out of British Columbia. He was one of three Trapper wrestlers to score wins by fall in a 27-12 dual victory by NWC.
Jones (197) and Brenton (157) also received credit for pressing their opponents to the mat. Petersen added an overtime decision at 174 while Grout (125) and Ford (141) also picked up decision wins for the Trappers.
Northwest College returns to action on Friday when the team travels to Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, to face No. 4 North Idaho in a clash of western wrestling powers. The Trappers will dual Southwest Oregon on Saturday morning before breaking for the holidays.
“We'll see how the weekend treats us,” said Zeigler. “We still have a gaping hole at 133 pounds with the absence of an All-American in Saul Guerrero and at 165 with Zach Oppenheimer out until January. We're trying to break in a new guy at 149 with Cody Britt out for the year as well.”