LARAMIE, Wyo. - For seven years, the CSU-Pueblo wrestling program was but a faint memory. But Saturday, at the Cowboy Open at the University of Wyoming, in a manner reflecting the workmanlike manner of ThunderWolf Wrestling, a Pack wrestler earned the program's first win with little fanfare, welcoming the program back to the mats.
The ThunderWolves' 125-pounder, Roman Sutton (Fr., Thornton, Colo.) won his match over Scott Schlosser, who was wrestling unattached to any school, with a pin in 1:03, officially heralding the return of Pack wrestling.
"It was a great way to return, winning our first match," Pack coach Dax Charles said. "It's great to start off on the right foot as we try to build a national championship-caliber program."
It didn't stop there - the Pack's return was headlined by a great day by Tony Chavarria (Fr., Pueblo West, Colo.), who won three matches in a 197-pound amateur class and advanced all the way to the championship match. Chavarria's quest for a championship ended when he was pinned by Micah Burak, who like Chavarria is a former Colorado state high school champion, in the championship match.
The ThunderWolves also got strong performances from Justin Grant (Jr., Winnemucca, Nev.), who won two matches at 165 pounds, and Martin Dick (Fr., Azle, Tex.), who won a team-high five matches and advanced all the way to the consolation semifinal. Dick, who put up the scrappiest performance of any ThunderWolf wrestler, earning two all-important wins over RMAC foes.
The ThunderWolves also got a number of very strong performances from wrestlers who wrestled "unattached" from the CSU-Pueblo team because of present ineligibility issues.
At the competitive Cowboy Open, which included wrestlers from 38 different teams, eight of which were RMAC teams and 12 of which were Division I schools, winning only a handful of matches is a huge accomplishment. Chavarria was one of just seven RMAC wrestlers to make it through to at least the semifinals in the amateur division and one of just four to make it to a championship match.
The Open also consisted of an "elite" division, reserved for Division I wrestlers and more experienced wrestlers from varying levels. The Pack only entered three wrestlers - all accomplished junior college transfers - in that division: Louie DeSantis (Jr., Escondido, Calif.), Keenen Funk (Jr., Riverton, Wyo.) and Kellen Desmond (Jr., Escondido, Calif.). All three lost their first two matches.
CSU-Pueblo coach Dax Charles was pleased with the performance of his wrestlers in their first action of the season, and assistant coach Shawn Brewer echoed those sentiments.
"Pack wrestling is back on the mat and it's a great thing to see," Brewer said. "We were lacking in our conditioning and technique at some points, and we'll continue to work on that, but it was a great first step and a great day overall."
The Pack wrestlers will take part in another open next Saturday when they travel to the University of Northern Colorado for the UNC Open.