BY SETH ROMSA TRIBUNE SPORTS WRITER
Courtesy of the Powell Tribune
The No. 8-ranked Northwest College wrestling team fell in an early season test against defending national champion and No. 1-ranked Western Wyoming in Rock Springs 50-3 on Saturday.
The evening started at 133 pounds after a forfeit at 125 pounds by the Trappers, with Kaiden Rubash matching up against Western’s Cody Phelps.
Phelps came out and took control of the match and pushed ahead late in the first period to earn a technical fall 17-1 at the 2:43 mark.
Treyson Davila slotted in for the Trappers at 141 pounds, dropping by fall at the 1:23 mark to River Wardle and Western took a 17-0 lead early.
At 149 pounds, Caleb Nadig fell behind early 7-0 in the first period of his match with Chris Lopez, but battled throughout.
“Caleb got behind early with a big move and I think it took him out of it mentally,” coach Jim Zeigler said. “I think he can wrestle with him.”
Nadig eventually fell via major decision 10-2 after all three periods, with Western extending the lead to 21-0.
Nadig was ranked No. 8 individually in the first NJCAA rankings, while Lopez entered as No. 2 in those same rankings.
Jack Lounsbury competed at 157 pounds for Northwest, but lost via technical fall late in the third period 20-4 to Western’s Tristan Stafford.
“I thought Jack did a pretty good job of hanging in there with an older kid and I think the next time he wrestles he will tighten that up,” Zeigler said.
Orrin Jackson lost via pin at 165 pounds to Jayden Luttrell at the 1:30 mark; Jesse Thornton also lost in the first period via pin at the 2:25 mark to Will Harmon at 174 pounds; and Robby Ortega lost in 58 seconds by pin to Darion Johnson at 184 pounds.
Battling throughout at 197 pounds, Josh Womack fell to Jacob Fuentes from Western at the 6:01 mark — with Western holding a 50-0 lead.
Northwest salvaged an individual victory on the night, with Cody Pinkerton winning at heavyweight.
Two scoreless periods sent the match deadlocked into the third period, with Pinkerton and Western’s Dmarian Lopez each looking for an advantage.
Pinkerton got the choice and picked bottom to start the period, and got an escape just 10 seconds into the frame.
Pinkerton then went on the offensive from neutral position, but was called for an illegal headlock with 1:07 left and the match was tied 1-1.
Both athletes battled over the final minute, but Pinkerton was awarded a point at the end for riding time — earning a 2-1 decision over Lopez to make the final team score 50-3.
Pinkerton entered the initial rankings as the top heavyweight wrestler in the country while Lopez is No. 7.
“They (Western) are No. 1 in the country for a reason, they are really good right now,” Zeigler said. “The way we got beat I take responsibility for them not being as well prepared. It was one of those things where they needed to learn it for themselves and it’s not really something I can prepare them for … They put it on us, they looked good, they are a really tough team.”
Zeigler said that he told his guys that “now we know” and that the guys wanted to get better out of the experience.
He said that the team is hoping to welcome back Aziz Fayzullaev this weekend, which will tighten up the Trappers at the 184 pound slot as Fayzullaev is ranked No. 2 at the position just behind Western’s Johnson.
His debut may come in Sterling, Colorado, with the Trappers heading there for a pair of duals against Northeastern Junior College and Otero Junior College on Thursday.
Northwest will then continue its road trip on Saturday, heading to the University of Nebraska-Kearney Open in Kearney, Nebraska.
“(We will) try him (Fayzullaev) out on Thursday in the two duals. He won’t wrestle in the tournament,” Zeigler said. “Just ease him back in, primarily need him in second semester … probably everybody else will wrestle in the tournament and we will see how Cody feels after the two duals.”
These will be the final events for Northwest in November, as the team will take next week off before returning to action in Montana to start December.