Pack snatches dramatic win from 12th-ranked Fort Hays State

CSU-Pueblo 197-pounder Cody Johnson holds Fort Hays' Tanner Kriss in control during the Pack's 18-15 dual win over the 12th-ranked Tigers.  Johnson's 2-0 win, which featured a dramatic near fall score near the end of regulation, sealed the win for the Pack.

Slim decisions from Addington, Johnson seal Pack victory.

PUEBLO, Colo. ( - Jan. 5, 2012) - CSU-Pueblo's conference dual season started off with a bang Thursday as the ThunderWolves claimed numerous squeakers in emerging with an 18-15 dual victory over 12th-ranked Fort Hays State.

In a dual that was closely fought, featuring a combined total of just three near falls throughout the entire dual, it was obvious that a small margin of error would decide the night. 

Luckily for the Pack, it was Fort Hays State that committed the small mistakes.

After trailing 12-6 at the halfway point of the dual, the 165-pound match between CSU-Pueblo's Matt Addington (So., Florence, Colo.) and 12-5 Tiger junior Sam Thoman quickly became the match of the night. 

After taking a 3-0 lead into the third period, each competitor traded reversals until the match was tied at 6-6 with just 12 seconds remaining after Thoman's latest reversal. 

With control and the knowledge that an escape by Addington would give him the win, the Tigers gambled, opting for a neutral start after a stoppage in play, a move that would cost the Tigers a point but set up an opportunity for a match-winning takedown.

But that takedown never game, and Addington prevailed 7-6, avenging a loss to Thoman that he suffered just one month ago in the quarterfinals of the Fort Hays Bob Smith Open.

In the 197-pound match, true freshman Cody Johnson (Fr., Broken Arrow, Okla.), benefitted by a 15-12 CSU-Pueblo lead and the knowledge that a victory with one match remaining in the dual could seal at least a tie, took on former University of Indiana wrestler, Tanner Kriss. 

The duo was scoreless through two periods, though it was obvious Kriss had the upper hand, especially after maintaining control throughout the entire two minutes of the second period, making a very crucial one-point riding time award a likely possibility.

But with control in the third and final period, Johnson returned the favor, eliminating Kriss' riding time bonus and one-upping him, sticking him for a late near fall and getting all the points he needed for an emotional 2-0, dual-clinching decision.

The Pack's 18-15 win marks its first over Fort Hays State since 2000, snapping a four-match losing streak.  It also marks the first time since Jan. 6, 2010 and just the second time since the wrestling program was revived in 2008 that CSU-Pueblo has defeated a top-15 ranked team in a dual.

CSU-Pueblo will try to pull another rabbit out of the hat Saturday when it travels to Phoenix to take on the highest-ranked team in the RMAC, fifth-ranked Grand Canyon, and NAIA California Baptist in a pair of duals.