Trappers qualify seven for nationals

NJCAA National Championships to be held in Council Bluffs, Iowa

By Steve Moseley
Posted 2/27/20

Saturday afternoon’s Rocky Mountain District tournament qualified seven wrestlers from the host Trappers to compete at next month’s NJCAA National Championships.

Northwest …

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Trappers qualify seven for nationals

NJCAA National Championships to be held in Council Bluffs, Iowa

Posted

Saturday afternoon’s Rocky Mountain District tournament qualified seven wrestlers from the host Trappers to compete at next month’s NJCAA National Championships.

Northwest College’s Dawson Barfuss (125 pounds), Van Bray (141), Brady Lowry (149), Jate Frost (165), Porter Fox (174), Tyson Carter (184) and Majid Muratov (197) are each set to attend the national tournament on March 6-7 in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Lowry, a freshman from Cedar City, Utah, was the only Rocky Mountain District champion for Northwest. The other Trappers all finished second except Carter who got in on a wild card.

Saturday’s tournament brought Western Wyoming Community College, Otero Junior College and Northeastern Junior College to Cabre Gym. Western Wyoming, located in Rock Springs, is the top-ranked program in the nation; Otero is located in La Junta, Colorado, with the Northeastern campus in Sterling, Colorado.

NWC coach Jim Zeigler was flying high with pride and appreciation for how well the tournament was run, beginning with director George Laughlin, who was seemingly everywhere making sure the event’s wheels were constantly greased. Athletic Director Brian Erickson and Senior Program Assistant for Athletics Denise Kobbe were instrumental in planning and staging the tournament, said Zeigler, adding that others were deserving of accolades in what was truly a team effort.

“What I am excited about is Northwest College did a great job hosting,” Zeigler said. “The tournament ran so smooth and that is not an easy thing to do. There’s an additional burden on the host [school], including the coach, in getting things together.”

Zeigler was less excited about what happened on the mats, however, calling himself disappointed with the Trappers’ overall effort and competitive drive.

“Everybody wrestled par,” he said, using a golf analogy in which a score of par is the basic expectation on each hole.

“In the postseason, par is pretty boring,” he said.

Zeigler noted that his athletes wrestled to their seeds — another term for meeting basic expectations.

“There were no upsets. No upsets!” he exclaimed. “Can you imagine the NCCA [basketball] tourney with no upsets? That’s the whole idea.”

The prospect of pulling off an upset with exceptional and unexpected effort, Zeigler said, and “means everyone has the chance to be a champion.”

Tournaments such as the Rocky Mountain District “are unique opportunities,” he said. “But when they don’t seize those opportunities — especially wrestling at home with all the fan support and familiarity.”

The exception Zeigler cited was Fox, the sophomore from Kamas, Utah, who is ranked No. 7 in the country at 174 pounds.

“He didn’t win [the match for first], but Porter [Fox] really rises to the occasion,” complimented his coach. “He [Fox] puts it all on the line and I love that. He gets it and that’s what I want.”

Zeigler planned to give the team Sunday and Monday off while spending 24 to 48 hours evaluating himself as a coach: “What did I not do to make these guys step up?” he asked, in addition to trying to figure out “what are they going to do at nationals?”

The fact Fox is the only qualifier who has ever wrestled in the national tournament is another worry for Zeigler, as he works to draw the best out of his Trappers at the exact time their “best” is needed the most.

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