New coach Dax Charles announces list of recruits for rebirth of program.
By TRACY RENCK, THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN
Starting an NCAA Division II wrestling program from scratch is a daunting task.
Dax Charles, the head coach for the Colorado State University-Pueblo program, has been up to the challenge.
Charles' first recruiting class has 22 members who have officially joined the ThunderWolves.
"The kids I have on this list now are good kids who should provide us with a good foundation for our program," Charles said. "My goal is to get about 30 kids in the program and I still have the rest of the spring and summer to get some more recruits."
Last spring, the Colorado State University System Board of Governors unanimously approved the expansion of the athletic program at CSU-Pueblo.
In 2008-09, the school will reintroduce football, wrestling and women's track.
Because of a shortfall in the athletic budget, CSU-Pueblo, which was known as the University of Southern Colorado at the time, dropped wrestling on May 15, 2001.
CSU-Pueblo will take the mat for the first time when the ThunderWolves compete Nov. 15 at the Cowboy Open at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. The ThunderWolves first home dual at the renovated Massari Arena is Jan. 7 against Mesa State College.
The Pack's inaugural recruits, include three local products in Tony Chavarria from Pueblo West and East's Matt Basquez and Markus Portillos.
Chavarria won the Class 4A 189-pound state championship in February at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
Basquez, meanwhile, placed second at state at 140-pounds in 2007, losing to Broomfield's Cory Cassady 2-1 in double overtime. Portillos was a 125-pound state champ for the Eagles in 2004.
"This is going to be awesome to wrestle at CSU-Pueblo," Basquez said. "I've been working out with Dax the last seven or eight months and that has been a great redshirt year for me. Being part of a new program is great and I really think we will be able to bang with some teams and compete. I'm also excited because a lot of people in Pueblo love wrestling and I think we will get a lot of support for our program."
Former La Junta High School standout Quinn Donnell has transferred from Western State to compete for CSU-Pueblo's squad.
"I'm excited about how the recruiting has gone," said Charles, who was a national champion wrestler in 1992 for then University of Southern Colorado. "The kids really like what we're doing here at the school. I believe it really helped me to be able to take the kids to Massari Arena and let them visualize what it's going to be like when they wrestle here."
Other notable recruits for the Pack include University of Wyoming transfer Jimmy Moore and Keenen Funk, a national Juco qualifier at Northwest College in Powell, Wyo.
CSU-Pueblo's wrestling recruits
Matt Basquez, Pueblo East, 141 pounds
Tony Chavarria, Pueblo West, 184
Quinn Donnell, Western State, 174
Keenen Funk, Northwest (Wyo.) College, 157
Brady Evans, Widefield, 152
Noah Grovenstein, Western Wyoming CC, 125
Adam Gurule, Sheridan, 157
Ben Howarth, Widefield, 184
Joseph Jones, Smoky Hill, 133
Kawika Kaahanui, Hoolehua, Hawaii, heavyweight
Daniel McNichols, Legacy, 160
Jacob Milewski, Denver East, 149
Jimmy Moore, University of Wyoming, 174
Mitchel Mueller, Swink, 152
Markus Portillos, Pueblo East, 133
Frank Sandoval, Durango, 165
Casey Seifert, Sheridan, 149
Roman Sutton, Horizon, 125
Jacob Terada, Northglenn, 174
Eric Tiederman, Bennett, 160
Brandon Vaughn, Lamar, 215
J.J. Velarde, Ridge View Academy, 197