Chavarria, Sandoval pick CSU-Pueblo

Pueblo West senior, Tony Chavarria, a 2008 state champion, and Durango senior Frank Sandoval, a three-time state qualifer, has signed on to wrestle at CSU-Pueblo, Pack coach Dax Charles announced.

Chavarria, who was also a member of the West state championship football team, as well, selected CSU-Pueblo both to wrestle and to play football.  Both programs will be restarted in 2008, part of an expansion of the athletics program at CSU-Pueblo.

"I'm signing for wrestling and I'm going to walk on the (CSU-Pueblo) football team," Chavarria said. "I'm really excited to have the opportunity to wrestle and play football in college, especially with these new programs at CSU-Pueblo."

The 5-foot-10 Chavarria had a magical final year with the Cyclones. In the fall, he powered West to an improbable run to the Class 4A state football crown. Chavarria played linebacker and fullback.

Chavarria followed up that performance by winning the 189-pound state wrestling title in February at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Chavarria defeated Liberty's Brandon Martz 6-4 in overtime. He finished the season with a perfect 29-0 record.

"I really feel comfortable with (CSU-Pueblo coach) Dax Charles," Chavarria said. "I really feel like he can help develop me into an even better wrestler. I just need to keep working as hard as I can to get better."

Sandoval, a three-time state tournament qualifier at Durango, said he's also excited to be part of the development of a new program at CSU-Pueblo.  At state as a sophomore, when he won his first match in Denver, Sandoval said he started to pick up confidence and consider a possible collegiate career. His confidence ultimately grew to the point that Sandoval finished fifth in the state championships in 2008, and wrapped up an impressive 38-9 senior season as a 160-pounder.  He said he thought CSU-Pueblo was a good fit for him.

"We went to the campus and visited. I met a couple other recruits. I liked it. The campus is really nice," Sandoval said, adding that he's excited about working with Charles, the former NCAA champion turned coach.

Chavarria and Sandoval mark the first two high school recruits signed to wrestle in the program since the wrestling program was halted in 2001 because of a shortfall in the athletic budget.  In 2008, the wrestling program, along with the football and women's track programs, will restart competition.

-This story includes portions of reports from The Pueblo Chieftain and The Durango Herald on the Pack's signings.