At the annual Northwest College Apodaca Dual Showdown, the Apodaca Award is presented to a student athlete who best represents the qualities head coach Jim Zeigler and others saw in Christopher “Brooks” Apodaca — a Trapper wrestler who tragically died in 1998.
On Friday night, Matthew Widdicombe of Powell became the first hometown recipent to win the award in the 19 years it’s been given.
In presenting the award, Coach Zeigler cited Widdicombe’s “discipline, determination and courage.”
Zeigler said there were several good candidates.
“I think at the end of the day, though, there’s just something about Matthew,” the Trapper coach said. “His spirit, the way that he works with the team, the way that he leads, his effort on the mat, the things that he does that are pretty courageous.”
As an example, Zeigler noted a November match at Western Wyoming College, where an injured Widdicombe proceeded to wrestle the third period basically on one leg. Widdicombe prevailed in that match, which won a tight dual for NWC.
“He’s just a special kid every day in everything he does,” Zeigler said.
Widdicombe is a redshirt sophomore who walked onto the NWC wrestling team as “this skinny awkward kid that never won a state title or anything” when wrestling at Powell High School, Zeigler recalled, noting that Widdicombe has developed into one of the team’s “top guys.”
Apodaca was also a walk-on at NWC, hailing from Riverton.
In remarks prepared by Zeigler for the awards ceremony, Widdicombe was honored for his work ethic on and off the mat and as a model representative of the Trapper wrestling program.
“Like Brooks Apodaca, this young man has a quiet and humble nature and a very big heart,” Zeigler said of Widdicombe.
The Trapper coach saluted Widdicombe for both his accomplishments in wrestling and in the classroom. Widdicombe is ranked eighth nationally in his weight class and No. 1 in the Rocky Mountain Region while carrying a cumulative 3.6 GPA. He will graduate with a degree in health science this year.
“It means a lot,” Widdicombe said of his selection, “cause Brooks was a good guy, the way coach describes him, and put a lot into this program. It feels good, thinking coach thinks that I put the same kind of effort he did and shows me that I am actually progressing in wrestling.”
After receiving the award on Friday, Widdicombe recorded a 5-1 decision at 174 pounds over his Western Wyoming opponent.
Widdicombe graduated from PHS in 2014.