Here at the Chieftain sports desk, we are digging through our archives to bring you flashes from Pueblo’s sports with our Throwback Thursday stories. Today’s is a recap of a collegiate wrestling dual for University of Southern Colorado — now Colorado State University-Pueblo, from Jan. 12, 1996. The ThunderWolves had a tough go in the matchup and had an intriguing situation with an official. The story was written by former Chieftain reporter Chuck Herman.
GUNNISON – After Thursday night’s dual here between University of Southern Colorado and Western State College, neither coach was gloating. Western’s Greg Waggoner was just happier than USC’s Doug Moses.
It’s a fun and clean rivalry, and those are the best kind,” said Waggoner, who had just watched his team beat the ThunderWolves 28-16. “It’s the kind of rivalry that’s healthy in sports. But if I told you I didn’t like to win, that would be a fib.”
Apart from watching his team win, however, Waggoner was just as thoughtful as Moses.
“It’s the middle of the season,” Waggoner said. “There’s a lot to be done. I guess that’s where we’re supposed to be this time of year.”
Moses had several things to be pleased with despite the loss. To begin with, 118-pound Manuel Guzman beat Western’s All-American Johnny Vigil for the first time in three tries.
Guzman coming through and beating this kid who is an All-American, that’s a good, positive thing for us,” Moses said. “There were a lot of things that could have gone our way, but with the lineup tonight, I thought we did all right. We came out with some fire in our bellies.”
Guzman last wrestled Vigil at the Great Plains Open with Vigil winning the match 12-4 to take seventh. Thursday, Guzman came out on top with a 9-7 decision.
“Even my high school coach (Bobby Gonzales, former Central High School coach) told me the third time was a charm,” Guzman said. “My strategy was to circle into his legs and concentrate on my shooting, keeping me on the offensive.
Guzman appeared a little tentative early in the match, falling behind 5-3 after the first period. He rallied in the second period scoring a takedown and then back points. Vigil escaped to knot the bout at 7-7 early in the third, but Guzman took down the Mountaineer junior with 36 seconds left to cap the scoring.
“I was a little nervous at first,” Guzman said. “But I came to prove a point. It felt good to win in his house.”
Bob Neff followed with a win in overtime to put USC up 6-0, but a goof by referee Blaine Walters could have cost the ThunderWolves three points. Neff took down Western’s Jeremy Franz, which ordinarily would have ended the match. However, Neff took Franz down to his back and should have been allowed an opportunity to get the pin instead of the 6-4 decision.
Neff was leading in the match until Walter hit him with stalling with 8 seconds left to end regulation at 4-4.
“In overtime, we’ve got the opportunity to pin the guy,” Moses said. “And he was flat on his back. That was my only point, and I was right. The official knew he made a mistake.”
The three points didn’t figure in the decision, but that, coupled with forfeiting at 134, put USC in a big hole. Neff was slated to wrestle at 134, but 126-pounder Lucas Trujillo injured his knee in practice necessitating the lineup shuffle.
USC’s Lyle Geyer then lost a close decision (3-2) at 142. Geyer appeared to have a reversal at the final buzzer but the official ruled no points and USC lost a match it had to win.
USC dropped the next three bouts including another close one at 167 when Chris Thorgesen, who was leading 4-3, gave up a reversal with 8 seconds left.
Nick Gagliardi got USC back in the win column with a pin at 177, that despite his having had problems with his stomach for the past couple of days.
“I came back from break at 211,” Gagliardi said. “I’ve been cutting a lot of weight. I just didn’t do it the right way.”
Gagliardi looked like he was destined to lose until an injury timeout brought him back to the task at hand.
I was worrying about (getting sick),” he said. “Taking that injury break put my mind back on wrestling. I knew I could take that kid from the first time we tied up.”
Gagliardi’s pin and a decision win by Josh Kallsen at 190 made the score respectable for USC, but Moses was more focused on the positive things he saw than the final score.
We lost the dual, but there were signs of things that were good,” he said. “We’ve got a ways to go, but we’ll be all right.”