Five members of the Northwest College wrestling team competed in the NJCAA National Wrestling Championships on March 1-2, with four earning wins at the postseason event.
Still, coach Jim Zeigler did not mince words about the team’s season and performance he described as “disappointing” at nationals.
He said his young team may have got a bit of cold feet at the tournament as only one Trapper competing – Palmer Schafer – had prior nationals experience. Zeigler said it was the first time in his 26 years as Northwest coach his team did not post an All-American wrestler.
“I think they were just nervous competing at that big of stage,” he said.
Daniel Jordan (285) and Yair Moran (174) fared the best for the Trappers, winning two of their four matches.
“Both of them wrestled pretty well – it’s something to build on,” Zeigler said.
After losing his tournament opener, Jordan won his next two consolation matches. His second and final loss came to a wrestler who ended up finishing fourth overall.
Jordan was a 285-pound champion at the Rocky Mountain District tournament and earned first-team all-district in mid-February.
Moran pulled off wins against grapplers from Neosho and Northeast Oklahoma before falling to Jacquan McPherson of Lackawanna College.
Porter Fox (184) and Schafer (149) each won matches as well.
Fox beat Emmanuel Nchako of Lackawanna in his first round match but then fell in his second round meeting against Brian Stanford of Iowa Central. Stanford ended up finishing sixth overall in the 184-pound weight class.
Schafer won his first consolation match over Aaron Morris of Mercyhurst before falling in the consolation second round.
“It was a really disappointing performance by him,” Zeigler said.
Boburjon Berdiyorov went 0-2 in his first nationals experience. It was a bittersweet ending for the freshman who had a stellar opening season, advancing to the district championship and named second-team all district.
The Trappers only had five sophomores on their roster this season and will return four grapplers with nationals experience next year.
“I think putting it into context, they did as well as could have been expected,” Zeigler said.
Zeigler said the nationals experience and an already successful recruiting cycle will help the team bounce back from the down year.
“Social media has been a big factor in our recruiting,” Zeigler said. “Making an Instagram page for kids to see team updates … they like that.”