At one point, it was hard to imagine Northwest College being able to wrestle in the 2020-21 school year. COVID-19 pushed the winter season to January, and the Trappers’ fall preparations were …
At one point, it was hard to imagine Northwest College being able to wrestle in the 2020-21 school year. COVID-19 pushed the winter season to January, and the Trappers’ fall preparations were seriously altered by the pandemic, with significant time away from the mat, due to positive cases.
Nonetheless, NWC wrestling will turn a new page on Saturday when it hosts the Apodaca Duals at Cabre Gym. The Apodaca gets underway at 10 a.m. for the first of three matches hosted in Powell.
It has been a difficult year for head coach Jim Zeigler and his athletes, and just getting the chance to compete in an official setting is thrilling.
“It was hard to envision this day at certain points of last year,” Zeigler said. “It’s extremely exciting.”
Due to the school testing student-athletes for COVID-19 upon their return from winter break, practice began a week later for wrestlers.
Even so, Zeigler is confident that his athletes have made the most of their allotted time in the gym.
“It’s been a great outlet for us every day,” Zeigler said. “It’s the only time of day where we get human interaction, and it’s been the highlight of our day.”
In addition to being the first time on the mat in a dual setting in several months, this is also a weekend to remember a Trapper great: Brooks Apodaca.
The event is named after Apodaca, a former wrestler who was a two-time captain and national qualifier. Zeigler described the event as a special tribute to the NWC legend. The annual Apodaca Award will be presented Saturday to a member of the Trappers’ squad who embodies his qualities on and off the mat.
Competition will begin for the Trappers around noon Saturday, shortly after the dual between Western Wyoming Community College and Northeastern Junior College. NWC will take on Northeastern and then face Western Wyoming later in the day.
In the squad’s first competition of 2021, Zeigler wants to learn about his team.
“I just want to see where we’re at and give us direction on things to work on — see what we need to work on and where we need to improve.” Zeigler said. “It will show us where we are in comparison to other programs.”
With the state’s new, less restrictive health orders, up to 250 spectators will be allowed to attend the duals, with doors to the Cabre Gym scheduled to open at 9:30 a.m. Being able to hold such a memorable event when the season once looked in doubt is meaningful to the program and the community as a whole, according to Zeigler.
“It’s groundbreaking,” he said. “We get to compete, and for us to arrive at this day is pretty special.”