Apodaca Dual Showdown On Friday At Cabre Gym
After a seventh place tournament finish in their first action out of the holiday break, Northwest College coach Jim Zeigler challenged his wrestlers to push themselves competitively. The Trappers answered the call to win three successive dual matches by a combined score of 114-15.
“That feels good, feels like we are really pushing,” said Zeigler, after watching his team dispatch the University of Great Falls, Otero College and Northeastern Junior College by lopsided margins.
On Wednesday, Jan. 18, the Trappers hosted the University of Great Falls in a dual match and won every match for a 41-0 team victory.
“There was a strong desire in them that night, I was real happy with that,” said Zeigler.
Of the matches won, Powell’s Matthew Widdicombe (174 pounds) was the only wrestler to pin his opponent.
Taylor Jeffries (133 pounds) and Cameron Braden (157 pounds) both won their matches by major decision.
Wins by decision were racked up by Riley Loveless (141 pounds), Andrew VonRein (165 pounds), Heber Shepherd (184 pounds), Jeffrey Oakes (197 pounds) and Lisiate ‘Richard’ Anua (285 pounds).
Both Mathew Barfuss (125pounds) and Carbon Kennington (149 pounds) had wins by forfeiture.
“There’s still a lot of things we need to work on,” said Zeigler. “They did a good job, they showed up ready.”
Three days later, the Trappers wrestled at the Plainsmen Duals in Sterling, Colorado. Northwest faced off first against Otero College and then the host school, Northeastern Junior College. Both Otero and Northeastern are in an inaugural season, having just added wrestling to the school’s athletic programs.
Though in its first year, Otero is ranked seventh in the nation. Zeigler said Otero’s head coach went out and recruited a lot of transfers from Division I schools, becoming good instantly; he described them as being a solid team.
“I just wanted to beat them,” said Zeigler. “They’ve been beating everybody, and they didn’t beat us, so I felt good about it.”
Northwest topped Otero 26-15.
Loveless and Anua both won by fall, with Anua’s pin in a quick 36 seconds. Oakes won by a 12-3 major decision, and other decision winners were Justin Polkowske (157 pounds), Widdicombe and Shepherd.
Four Trappers lost matches: Barfuss, Jeffries, Kennington and VonRein. VonRein’s loss at 165 pounds came to the No. 1 ranked wrestler in the nation, Zachary Beard.
After wrestling Otero in the morning, Northwest took on Northeastern later in the day and won 47-0.
Pinning their opponents were Loveless, Widdicombe, Shepherd and Anau. All other matches were won by decision.
“I think they’re coming around,” said Zeigler of his team. “Their intensity level is increasing, their focus is getting better, they want to win, their desire seems to be there.”
Since the NWCA Multi Divisional National Dual in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in the first week of January, Zeigler has been running the wrestling team hard.
In the week-and-a-half between coming back from Indiana and the dual against Great Falls, the wrestlers had 16 practices, working out twice a day and once on Saturday. Then the team had four more practices before traveling the 533 miles to compete in Sterling, Colorado.
Zeigler said he thinks the wrestlers are “remembering and starting to embrace who we are and who we are supposed to be and our identity.”
“I like where we are going,” Zeigler said.
Next up for the Trappers is the Apodaca Dual Showdown on Friday night against Western Wyoming following the Apodaca Award Ceremony.
This year will be the 19th annual for the Apodaca Dual Showdown, which was started in memory of NWC wrestler Christopher “Brooks” Apodaca, who died in 1998 in a single-car rollover.
Zeigler wanted a way to continue the legacy of Apodaca and thus the Apodaca Dual Showdown was started and an Apodaca Award is given to a current member of the NWC wrestling team who exhibits the same qualities Brooks Apodaca did.
The recipient of the Apodaca Award is determined by work ethic, leadership, community service, academics, respectfulness, reliability, social awareness and spiritual awareness; it doesn’t always go to the top wrestler on the team. The Apodaca Award will be presented at 7 p.m. on Friday.
“I’d like to have a nice crowd Friday night, it’s important to us,” said Zeigler.
And by us, Zeigler is not just meaning the Trapper wrestling team, but also the Western Wyoming wrestling team, as Art Castillo, the head coach for Western Wyoming, was a former teammate of Apodaca’s.
Normally, a total of five teams compete at the Apodaca Dual Showdown. However, this year only Western Wyoming and Northwest will compete.
Northwest is hosting the NJCAA Rocky Mountain District Tournament on Feb. 11, and so teams who normally would come to compete in the Apodaca Dual Showdown are not able to make the long trek to Powell twice in such a short span of time.
Western Wyoming is currently ranked 10th in the nation and Northwest is ranked 14th — and both teams have three nationally ranked wrestlers.
For Western Wyoming, Cole Verner is ranked No. 1 in the 125-pound weight class, Tanner Cox is ranked No. 7 in the 133-pound weight class and Aspen Naylor is ranked No. 7 in the 197-pound weight class.
Northwest’s nationally ranked wrestlers are No. 8 Loveless in the 141-pound weight class, Widdicombe at No. 8 at the 174 pound weight class and Shepherd ranked No. 2 in the 184-pound weight class.
When Western Wyoming and Northwest met on Nov. 11, Northwest won 26-17.