GOLDEN, Colo. - Faced with the prospect of a winless conference slate, CSU-Pueblo wrestlers battled in a way unseen this season, winning every close match in the final RMAC dual of the season vs. Colorado School of Mines Wednesday, but still coming up slightly short, losing 21-15 to the Orediggers.
Every match that was decided by two points or less broke the ThunderWolves' way, as the Pack claimed a school record three sudden-victory wins in a single dual.
The Pack's sudden victory wins came at a point in the dual when all hope seemed lost for a victory. The ThunderWolves were trailing 15-3 five matches into the dual when the Pack grapplers dug deep and left it all on the mat.
It all started with Tony Chavarria (Fr., Pueblo, Colo.) at 197 pounds. Chavarria turned in a 4-2 sudden-victory win over Patrick Ryan, trimming the Orediggers' advantage to 15-6. After Mines won the heavyweight match, the Pack had the daunting task of making up 15 points in the remaining three matches, trailing 21-6.
Though the ThunderWolves didn't accomplish that task, what they did accomplish in those final three showdowns was an amazing step forward for the first year program.
Lyle Evans (Jr., Grantsville, Utah) handed a loss to 12-10 Pablo Mascarenas at 125 pounds by another sudden-victory win, prevailing 4-2.
Joe Jones (Fr., Aurora, Colo.), who had been struggling, bringing a 10-match losing streak into Wednesday night, turned in the ThunderWolves' third sudden-victory win, a 6-4 decision over Kellen Costelow.
Markus Portillos (Fr, Pueblo, Colo.), who had been out of the ThunderWolves' lineup for the previous two duals, returned with a vengeance, winning a tense 13-11 dual over Dylan Lewis at 141 pounds.
Though the ThunderWolves could only make up nine points during that final stretch, the symbolism of their accomplishment was obvious - it was a strong, positive step toward the Pack's next challenge, the RMAC Championships.
Though CSU-Pueblo finished the dual season winless in RMAC competition, Pack wrestlers will have 10 days to prepare for the RMAC/NCAA Division II West Region Championships, being held at the University of Nebraska-Kearney on Feb. 28.