Montana Tournament Features 4-Year Schools From Around The Nation
After an injury-riddled start to the 2018-19 season, the Northwest College wrestling team hopes to rebound this weekend. The Trappers will travel to Great Falls, Montana, for the Battle of the Rockies tournament at the University of Providence Friday and Saturday.
The first day of the event will be a full day of dual meets, while day two will be an open tournament, where all wrestlers can compete. Trappers head coach Jim Zeigler said the tournament always features plenty of tough competition.
“The hosts bring in teams in from all over the country, so it’s a pretty neat deal,” he said. “They’re all four-year schools except for us and Northwest Tech out of Kansas, primarily NAIA Division II schools — including perennial powerhouse McKendree and MSU-Northern. We see a lot of variety, teams we otherwise wouldn’t see during the year. It’s a really great event.”
Injuries have hurt the Trappers early this season, with some of Zeigler’s top wrestlers projected to be watching from the sidelines this weekend. Palmer Schafer at 141 pounds and Logan Sondrup at 165 pounds are both working through concussion protocol, while T.J. Frazier has been sidelined for the rest of the semester with a knee injury. Porter Fox is also working through issues, though he might be available for the weekend. A scheduled meet with Western Wyoming before Thanksgiving was canceled because of Zeigler’s low numbers.
“We’re just decimated, and it’s frustrating, because there’s nothing I can do about it,” Zeigler said. “I have no control over concussion protocol — they bang their head, we have to keep them out. We have to make sure they’re ready to go back once they’re cleared by doctors.”
“Losing Schafer and Sondrup put us down to six guys, and that’s why we had to cancel the meet at Rock Springs,” he added. “They didn’t want to wrestle us with just six.”
Zeigler said the goal for the weekend will be to get better with every single match, and not be concerned about wins and losses. Gaining experience and confidence will be the focal point, with an eye toward having a successful second act to the season.
“Everything is preparation for that second semester,” Zeigler said. “We’ll try to make a drive toward the regional and national tournament, where we want to try to get guys qualified and try to help them become All-Americans.”
Freshman Boburjon Berdiyorov has been a bright spot for the Trappers this season, finishing third at the NWC Open at 133 pounds. The native of Bekabod City, Uzbekistan, is still adjusting to collegiate style wrestling, however, making his matches interesting, to say the least.
“Bobur [Berdiyorov] has great abilities and he’s a fantastic wrestler, but he’s still learning American folkstyle wrestling,” Zeigler said. “He scores his points and the other guys’ points. He’s a busy guy out there.”
Zeigler reiterated that effort isn’t the issue with this year’s slow start — injuries and inexperience are the culprit.
“The kids have a good attitude, and they’re working hard, they’re trying to get better,” he said. “Their ability to face the adversity they’re facing in terms of depth and injury problems is impressive. They still come every day with a positive attitude, and I’m real proud of how hard they’re working. They’re doing well in classes, and they’re all good kids.”