Jordan Wins Rocky Mountain District Title At 285 Pounds
Northwest College freshman grappler Daniel Jordan wrestled his way to a district championship at 285 pounds over the weekend at the Rocky Mountain District Tournament.
Competing in Sterling, Colorado, the Trappers finished third as a team with 54 points. Meanwhile, five NWC wrestlers qualified for the NJCAA National Tournament, scheduled for March 1-2 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Joining Jordan at nationals will be: Boburjon Berdiyorov, who took second at 133 pounds; Yair Moran, the runner-up at 174 pounds; two-time national qualifier Palmer Schafer at 149 pounds, who earned a wild card bid after finishing third; and Porter Fox at 184 pounds, who also earned a wild card.
“We had a good tournament,” said NWC head coach Jim Zeigler. “We started off slow, but the guys wrestled hard, we had a couple of really good performances. We talked about being able to beat someone that they weren’t expected to beat, like a higher-seeded kid. We knew we would need some upsets, and we got them.”
Western Wyoming took the team title with 109.5 points, qualifying 10 wrestlers for nationals. Northeastern Junior College finished second with 91.5 points, qualifying nine for nationals.
NWC’s Jordan was the surprise of the tournament, winning a close 4-3 decision in the heavyweight division over Western Wyoming’s Landon Brown. Brown had won the previous two matches between the two wrestlers, and came into the district tournament ranked No. 3 in the nation.
“Dan [Jordan] did a great job to win the tournament at heavyweight,” Zeigler said. “It was an opponent that’s beaten him twice and nationally ranked. So that was a big win for Dan, and puts him in a much better position going into the national tournament.”
At 133 pounds, NWC’s Berdiyorov was pinned in the first place match by Northeastern’s Quintel Fuchs.
The Rocky Mountain District Tournament is set up where wrestlers compete for a “true second.” If the wrestler who finishes third has not wrestled the second-place wrestler during the tournament, he can challenge for that second place spot; since wild card bids are at a premium, wrestlers who finished third might have to rely on a challenge match to punch their ticket to nationals.
Berdiyorov was challenged by Western’s Joey Revelli and, in a rematch from the Apodaca Duals earlier this month, won a close 3-1 decision.
“Bobur [Berdiyorov] wrestled good,” Zeigler said.
Schafer, who qualified for the national tournament last season, lost to Western’s Jake Thompson in the 149-pound second-place match; it was the third time the two wrestlers have met this season. Schafer decisioned Thompson 18-11 at the Apodaca Duals; Thompson won the rematch the following week, pinning Schafer in the second round. Schafer rebounded with a win over Otero’s Jake Ballesteros for third place. Because of his status as a returning national qualifier, Schafer was granted a wild card bid to continue his season.
“Palmer [Schafer] was the first one selected,” Zeigler said.
After losing to Northeastern’s Dillon Thomas in the 174-pound semifinals, NWC’s Moran battled back to decision Otero’s Diego Vigil-Reyes 6-2 to place third. He then challenged Western’s Jace Anderson for second place, winning an 8-7 decision.
At 184 pounds, Fox lost in the semifinals to Northeastern’s Hayden Wempen, but came back to pin Otero’s Jaylon Chiles to finish third. Fox, a freshman from Kamas, Utah, was awarded the Apodaca Award earlier this season, and Zeigler said he’s proud at what the young wrestler has accomplished.
“Qualifying for the national tournament is a big deal — it’s a big deal for a kid to get there and get experience, whether he places or not,” Zeigler said of Fox. “It’s a great experience for that young man to go. You expect to make two trips to the national tournament during your tenure at Northwest College, and if you’re fortunate enough to do that, you’re likely to place one of those times.”
The Trappers will spend the week leading up to nationals fine-tuning their game, with an eye toward making some noise on the NJCAA’s biggest stage.
“We’ll be working out hard in the mornings with conditioning, and the afternoons we’ll be getting a lot more technical on the mat, a lot more skill work,” Zeigler said. “We’ll do a lot more individual work in the afternoon. We’ll just be trying to prepare them individually for the championships. Each guy needs a little something different.”