“We’ll just go down and compete,” said Trappers head coach Jim Zeigler. “It’s just an opportunity for us to measure where we are this far and [see] the things we need to work on and if we’re making good progress,”
This season, the freshman-heavy Trappers are a relatively inexperienced team, with some wrestlers stepping into starting roles for the first time at the collegiate level. The returners are sophomores Lisiate Anau, Jeff Oakes and Taylor Jeffries.
Anau, from Sugar City, Idaho, was an All-American last year and will be wrestling at the 285-pound weight class.
Oakes is a 197-pound wrestler from Battle Mountain, Nevada and was also an All-American last year.
Jeffries was a national qualifier last season from Gillette and will be wrestling at 133 pounds.
The Trappers also have experience from two wrestlers who redshirted last year — Powell’s Nic Urbach at 149 pounds and Tate Allison of Moorcroft at 165. Urbach is “excited to get on the mat,” Zeigler said.
The rest of the team are freshmen. Nodir Sofarov from Bekabad City, Uzbekistan will be wrestling at 125 pounds and brings maturity and experience to the Trapper wrestling program, having wrestled in the world championships last year.
“He’s an Olympic-caliber wrestler,” Zeigler said. “He’s the No. 1 guy in their country and they are a great wrestling nation.”
Sofarov will have adjustments to make, as he has not wrestled collegiate-style wrestling — and there is a difference between international and college wrestling.
Rocky Ciminera of Phoenix, Arizona, and Hunter Kisar of Abilene, Kansas, are also listed to wrestle at 125 pounds.
At 141 pounds is Palmer Schafer from Lander. Sterling Kraye from Rapid City, South Dakota is listed at 149 pounds, while at the 157-pound weight class is Logan Soundrup of Manti, Utah.
Chayce Loveless of Payson, Utah, will wrestle at 184 pounds while Davon Galindo of Phoenix, Arizona, is listed under the 197/285 pound weight class.
“The quality of our team is very good,” Zeigler said.
The coach also described his team as a “good group of kids that have been working hard.”
“It’s always hard to tell going into the first tournament; you really never know where you’re at,” Zeigler said, adding that the Cowboy Open is a good opportunity to see if the wrestlers are in the right positions to be the most competitive. The event can also be a big eye-opener for those transitioning from high school to the collegiate level.
“It’s a good tournament,” Ziegler said.
This season, the team aims to place several wrestlers on the podium (in the top eight) at the national tournament. Last season, eight NWC wrestlers made it to the national tournament with only two making the podium. The Trappers were also the NJCAA Rocky Mountain District champions.
“We have a better tournament team,” Ziegler said of his wrestlers this season.
After the Cowboy Open, the Trappers will host the NWC Open on Sunday, Nov. 12.
The Apodaca Duals will take place Jan. 26 and 27.
Saturday, Feb. 10 is the NJCAA Rocky Mountain District tournament in Rock Springs and the NJCAA National Championships will be Feb. 23-24 in Council Bluffs, Iowa.