Charles definitely in charge

Charles definitely in charge

Restarting a college wrestling program isn't easy.

Dax Charles is learning that firsthand.

He has been going full speed since he was named the Colorado State University-Pueblo head wrestling coach on Aug. 21. Charles said that he will get a paid assistant coach for his program on July 1, 2008.

"I've been doing a lot of recruiting by going to college and high school tournaments," Charles said. "I've been in touch with a lot of high school (wrestling) coaches in Colorado and I've made a lot of good contacts. Also, I've sent out information about our program to about 50 junior colleges and I'm going to follow those letters up with phone calls."

This past May, the Colorado State University System Board of Governors unanimously approved the expansion of the athletics program at CSU-Pueblo. In 2008-09, the school will reintroduce football, wrestling and women's track.

The University of Southern Colorado wrestling program, now known as CSU-Pueblo, was eliminated on May 15, 2001 because of a shortfall in the school's athletic budget.

Doug Moses was only coach in the history of USC wrestling. He coached the team from 1982-2001. Moses has been the head wrestling coach at New Mexico Highlands since the 2005-06 season.

While at USC, Moses guided his teams to six RMAC championships, four Western Regional titles and two national runner-up finishes in NAIA in 1984-85 and 1990-91. He also produced 11 individual national champions and 68 All-Americans.

Charles won an NCAA Division II national championship at 150 pounds under Moses in 1992.

Being able to draw from that past has helped Charles.

"He (Moses) had to start everything from scratch," Charles said. "I have a lot of history to build from. I also have a strong base of alumni wrestlers, who are now coaches, who are very supportive. Plus, everybody in the local community has been very supportive of our program."

Charles said that he would like to have at least 40 guys in the wrestling room during CSU-Pueblo's 2008-09 season. The ThunderWolves' slate will start the second weekend of November of 2008 when they compete in the Cowboy Open at the University of Wyoming campus in Laramie.

"I only have three full in-state scholarships to give (that first season)," Charles said. "Basically, I'm going to have to ask guys to walk-on and then the kids who stick with the program and pay their dues, those are the ones who I'm going to give money to. My primary goal is keep all the wrestlers in Pueblo who want to go to college here at CSU-Pueblo. I've also been working out twice a day, lifting weights and wrestling, so I can get in shape. I want to lead by example and do hands-on coaching."

Charles doesn't have his complete 2008-09 schedule finalized, but did say his team's first two duals will be against Mesa State College and Fort Hays (Kan.) State in January of 2009.

Once the renovation of Massari Arena is finished, Charles will start work on his program's practice room.

"We're going to fix up a wrestling room (at Massari)," Charles said. "I've already bought two mats that will be here in April. One is going to be our practice mat and one is going to be our competition mat."

In the spring and summer, Charles has full slate.

Charles is hosting the USA Freestyle Rocky Mountain Regional Tournament May 16-17 and the Colorado State Freestyle Championships May 30-31. Both events will be held at Massari Arena.

"There are going to be around 700 wrestlers competing in those two tournaments," Charles said.

Charles added that he will be conducting a CSU-Pueblo wrestling camp June 9-13 at Massari.

"These tournaments and the camp are going to be fundraisers for our program," Charles said.