Berdiyorov Seeded No.1 At 133 Pounds
Despite a 45-6 loss to Western Wyoming to close out the regular season last week, the Northwest College wrestling team heads into this weekend’s NJCAA Rocky Mountain District championships with confidence and enthusiasm.
“This team hasn’t experienced as much success as some of our teams in the past in terms of wins and losses, but I’m really proud of these kids,” said NWC head coach Jim Zeigler. “It’s hard to measure their overall success, because they’re developing in so many ways. They’re great kids.”
The tournament, held at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colorado, serves as the qualifier for the national competition, and will feature four teams: NWC, Western Wyoming, NJC and Otero Junior College. The first and second placers in each weight class will qualify for nationals; another four wild card berths will be awarded to third-place finishers, based on their regular season performance and the opinions of the coaches.
“We’ll put nominees for the wild card spots up on the board, then we’ll debate, look at what each wrestler’s accomplishments are, significant wins, that kind of thing,” said Zeigler. “If we feel like they have a good chance to perform well at nationals, we’ll select the four best kids. If a kid’s a returning All-American, for example, and ends up in third place, he’s real likely to get one of those wild card spots.”
The Trappers will be represented at the Rocky Mountain Districts by nine wrestlers. Only one Trapper has earned a No. 1 seed: Boburjon Berdiyorov at 133 pounds. Palmer Schafer, who qualified for nationals last season and posted a 2-2 record in that tournament, will be a No. 3 seed at 141 pounds.
“I think Palmer will be focused this week, he’ll be ready,” Zeigler said. “Generally when Palmer is prepared and ready and focused, he’s pretty tough to beat.”
Though the Trappers are hungry, they’re also inexperienced. Zeigler said it will take some upsets for many of them to qualify for the national tournament.
“Most of our guys will fall into that three spot,” Zeigler said. “Which means they’ll either have to wild-card their way in, or they’re going to have to upset somebody. It will be the end of the road for some of them.”
As for last week’s dual against Western, Zeigler said the results were disappointing, especially coming on the heels of a solid showing against the Mustangs at the Apodaca Duals. Berdiyorov was the lone bright spot for the Trappers, pinning Western’s Dylan Chavez.
“It was a complete reversal from what we had wrestled just the weekend before,” Zeigler said. “I think Western was a little fired up about losing some matches in our place, and our guys were a little too relaxed. They didn’t have that same intensity, and did not compete well. It was really disappointing; it was one of those you want to sweep under the carpet and put it behind you.”
With the team winning only two duals on the season, Zeigler said he’d like to be more competitive, but he also said the squad is also “absolutely” meeting all that NWC’s athletics department has asked of them.