Trappers shine at Apodaca Duals

Posted 2/2/10

With four of the nation's top seven junior college wrestling programs and six of the nation's top-ranked wrestlers in town for the two-day competition, it was pretty much a given that fireworks were going to fly. As it turns out, the Trappers were …

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Trappers shine at Apodaca Duals


{gallery}02_02_10/apodaca{/gallery}Much like the Trappers' Zach Oppenheimer during this snapshot from his Friday night match against No. 3 ranked Bradley Banks of Iowa Central, the NJCAA wrestling rankings could be turned upside down following a weekend of action at the Apodaca Dual Showdown. NWC defeated a pair of top-7 teams and narrowly missed knocking off No. 1 Iowa Central. Tribune photo by Randal Horobik NWC bests two top-10 foes, narrowly misses vs. No. 1The fourth-ranked Northwest College Trapper wrestling team scored resounding wins against No. 3 North Idaho and No. 7 Highline on Saturday and narrowly missed taking down three-time defending national champion and top-ranked Iowa Central on Friday at the 2010 installment of the Apodaca Dual Showdown. “I'm really happy with what we did and what we accomplished,” said NWC head coach Jim Zeigler. “We learned a lot about ourselves this week and I'm happy with how it turned out.”

With four of the nation's top seven junior college wrestling programs and six of the nation's top-ranked wrestlers in town for the two-day competition, it was pretty much a given that fireworks were going to fly. As it turns out, the Trappers were an eyelash away from producing the biggest bang on the opening night of the Apodaca, falling 21-15 to Iowa Central.

McCade Ford (141), Briston Brenton (157), Nick Petersen (174), Jarrett Baker (184) and Landon Harris (285) each scored decision victories as the Trappers won five of the 10 matches against the three-time defending national champions. Two others went down to the wire.

At 133 pounds, Saul Guerrero was locked in a battle with Michael Garofalo in a battle of the No. 5 and No. 6 wrestlers at that weight class. Garofalo was able to shoot in for a takedown with 8.5 seconds remaining to steal a 9-8 decision in a match where Guerrero was also just three seconds shy of claiming a riding point that would have forced overtime.

At 197 pounds, Mak Jones, the No. 4 wrestler in his division, was locked in a battle with No. 2 Carl Foreside. To the chagrin of those in attendance at Cabre Gym, it appeared the Iowa Central grappler was able to take excessive time while fumbling with his head gear on multiple occasions. Foreside was eventually penalized one point for stalling, but survived to claim a two-point win.

Had the Trappers been able to reverse the outcome of either of the matches, the dual would have ended in an 18-18 deadlock with the tiebreak criteria slanted in the Trappers' favor.

“We won five, and that's a good thing,” Zeigler said of the results. “The 133 and 197-pound matches could have gone either way, and in one of those cases I thought it should have gone the other way. The wrestling throughout that dual though was good, sharp wrestling. The points that were scored weren't from mistakes. They were the result of skilled attacks. It was great college wrestling and we stood toe to toe with the No. 1 ranked team.”

The Trappers rode the momentum from Friday night's strong showing into Saturday. After falling behind 15-6 early against No. 7 Highline, NWC stormed back through the upper weights to score the win.

Ford's victory via forfeit resulted in the Trappers' only win among the six lower weights, but Northwest College owned everything above 165 pounds to turn the tide. Baker and Harris turned in wins by fall. Petersen and Jones added major-decision wins to storm past Highline for the victory.

That momentum continued through Saturday's late dual against North Idaho. The Trappers began with five consecutive wins before allowing North Idaho onto the scoreboard in a 30-10 victory.

Jesse Hillhouse (125), Bobby Robins(141) and Ford were all decision winners. Saul Guerrero (133) and Brenton added wins by first-period fall to help stake Northwest to a 21-0 lead on the team scoreboard.

After dropping a major decision at 165, Nick Petersen officially delivered a dual victory for the Trappers with a win by fall just two minutes into his match at 174. Jones sandwiched a 6-4 win over No. 1 Kamron Jones between North Idaho decision victories against Baker and Harris to close out the dual.

“We had a number of kids that really performed well,” said Zeigler. “Mak made a statement on Friday against the No. 2 kid in his division, then came out Saturday and beat the No. 1 kid. Brison had two nice wins and wrestled the No. 1 kid in his division tough. McCade made a statement with the way he won his match against the No. 1 kid in his class.”

But some of the weekend's biggest accolades went to Baker at 184.

“Jarrett decided that he kind of liked being out on the big stage,” Zeigler said. “The kid he beat from Iowa Central was a two-time California high school champion and ranked No. 5 at his weight and he really stepped up against him. The thing I love about Jarrett is that his potential is really unlimited. He's a kid that is basically in his third season of wrestling, going against guys who have had eight, 10, maybe 12 years of experience. It is really impressive. There's all kinds of promising things there.”

The promise hardly is confined to Baker. Fielding a lineup that features five wrestlers who won't turn 19 before the end of the season, the Trappers may have discovered the missing link to their season over the weekend.

“Confidence,” Zeigler said. “That's really what we needed, and I think that's what we got from our duals. We knew we had talent. We knew we had the capability, but this gave us the chance to go out and see some of the top teams and top kids and learn that we can go toe to toe and stand with anyone. That was really the one thing we were missing.”

The Trappers will have two weeks to consider their newfound confidence as the team prepares for its regional tournament. The Trappers will hold double practices this week before tapering back.