Trappers Open Season In Laramie
It will be a new-look squad for the Northwest College wrestling team that takes to the mat this Saturday in Laramie, as the Trappers open the season at the Cowboy Open at the University of Wyoming.
“Practices have been going pretty well, but we’re really lacking in experience,” said NWC head coach Jim Zeigler. “I don’t know what to expect yet this weekend. “
Lander’s Palmer Schafer at 141 pounds and Logan Sondrup from Manti, Utah, at 157 are the only Trappers returning from last year with varsity experience; Sterling Kraye, a sophomore from Rapid City, South Dakota, was injured much of last season, but is slated to wrestle at the 149 spot this year.
Schafer, a national qualifier last season who went 2-2 at the national tournament, will wrestle at 149 this weekend. He’ll return to 141 for next weekend’s dual against Otero Community College Friday and the NWC Open Saturday.
“Schafer is probably our top returner,” Zeigler said.
Sondrup didn’t qualify for nationals last season, but he held the starting spot at 165 pounds for the Trappers.
“He [Sondrup] is much improved, and I think he’ll do a good job for us this year,” Zeigler said.
The Trappers will have to rely on a talented but inexperienced group of freshmen to fill the remaining spots, and Zeigler expects the Cowboy Open to act as a barometer to see what the team is capable of.
“I think this weekend will do a lot to teach the younger guys what it’s [college wrestling] is about,” he said. “When they get there, I think their eyes get opened up a little bit. Progressively, through this first semester, they get more adjusted to college-style wrestling — there’s quite a difference.”
As for freshmen to keep an eye on this weekend, Zeigler said Idaho’s Dawson Barfuss at 125 is coming in with a solid pedigree — and ties to the Trapper program.
“Dawson is a two-time state champion out of Idaho,” Zeigler explained. “His brother [Mathew Barfuss] was a starter for us a few years back in 2015. Dawson is pretty talented.”
Bobur Berdiyorov, a native of Uzbekistan and the youngest wrestler on the roster at just 17, will be wrestling at 133. Berdiyorov is the cousin of Nodir Safarov, a former Trapper and last year’s national champion at 125.
“Bobur is an international student and he’s really young,” Zeigler said. “He has not wrestled American folk-style wrestling before — he’s only wrestled freestyle and Greco-Roman. I think the adjustment for him will be adjusting to collegiate-style wrestling. But he is definitely talented — very, very talented.”
Zeigler has some big shoes to fill with the loss of Lisiate Anau, last year’s national runner-up at 285 pounds, to graduation. But the coach thinks he may have found just the man in Cedar City, Utah’s Daniel Jordan. Jordan will wrestle in the heavyweight, 285-pound division, if he makes weight.
“He’s every bit of that,” Zeigler said. “He’s a kid that came in here at 300-plus. So he’ll be down to 285 for the first time.”
One of the challenges Jordan faces, according to Zeigler, is finding a partner to wrestle with in practice.
“We really don’t have anybody that can wrestle with him [Jordan],” Zeigler said. “He practices every day, of course, but in terms of live wrestling, there’s nobody to really go with him.”
As for his expectations for this weekend at the Cowboy Open, Zeigler said he’s keeping them realistic. It will be a learning experience for the younger wrestlers, but one the coach hopes will set the tone for the season.
“They’re going to be OK,” he said. “I look forward to talking with them on the way home, we generally have good conversations on the bus. The things they’ll realize, it’s like, ‘Wow, you ain’t kidding, I noticed this, and I noticed that.’ It’s really quite an eye-opener, and it gets them on a new path.”