PUEBLO, Colo. (Aug. 2, 2018) – Five former student-athletes, a longtime coach and special contributor and a group of program-changing women's basketball teams shape the 2018 class of the Colorado State University-Pueblo Athletics Hall of Fame, which will be honored at a breakfast and the homecoming football game Sept. 29.
The Class of 2018 will be recognized at the Ninth Annual Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, September 29th at the Ochiatto Student Center Ballroom on the CSU-Pueblo campus. Tickets to the breakfast, featuring alumnus and community leader Mike Salardino as emcee, are $15 per person. Kids 12 and under are $10 each. To reserve your spot, call Haley Robinson in the Athletics office (719)-549-2254.
The inductees will also be introduced at halftime of the Homecoming football game between the ThunderWolves and South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, which kicks off at 2 p.m. at the Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl. The inductees will also attend the CSU-Pueblo Alumni Foundation Tailgate on rooftop of the Leomiti Warriors Center beginning at 12 p.m.
National Champion Mannie Garcia of the wrestling team leads the group of student-athletes in 2018. Twenty years after Garcia was crowned a national champion, men's soccer standout Robert Kinsey was an All-American in 2011. Pepper (Mahon) Whittlef guided the volleyball team to a NCAA regional appearance in 1996, while 40 years earlier Eugene Poston was dominating the hardwood for Pueblo Junior College. Finally, Danita Wyatt helped get the women's track and field program restarted with an All-American honor in 2011.
Joe Folda retired in May after a 31-year stint at University of Southern Colorado and CSU-Pueblo. Starting as a men's basketball coach in 1987, Folda became the full-time Director of Atheltics in 2005 after a couple terms pulling double duty as head coach and AD. He enters the Hall of Fame he helped launch in 2008.
The women's basketball team has climbed to new heights in the past few years, but where it began was in 2006 when the ThunderWolves started a run of four Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Tournament Championships in five years. The 2006 team also reached the NCAA Division II Tournament for the first time in program history. The women's basketball team has missed the NCAA Tournament just twice since that season.
Mannie Garcia (Wrestling, 1990-93) - 1991 NAIA National Champion at 118 … Three-time All-American (1990 – 6th, 1991 – 1st, 1993 – 2nd) ... NCAA Division II West Regional Champion in 1992 … Recorded a 34-7 record as a senior with seven pins … Posted a career record of 97-24-1 with 12 pins … Helped guide the team to a national runner-up finish at the 1991 NAIA Championships, which was inducted into the CSU-Pueblo Athletics Hall of Fame in 2017.
Robert Kinsey (Men's Soccer, 2008-11) – Daktronics All-America Honorable Mention as a senior in 2011 … Daktronics All-Region First Team (2008 and 2011) and Second Team (2009 and 2010) … NSCAA All-Region Second Team (2011) … All-RMAC First Team (2008), Second Team (2010 and 2011), Third Team (2009) … RMAC Freshman of the Year (2008) … All-RMAC Academic Second Team (2010 and 2011) … All-time CSU-Pueblo leading goal scorer with 36 and first in career points with 89 … Played in 79 games, also a career record, while his 17 career assists is tied for third … Added nine game-winning goals (T-2nd all-time) … Scored 13 goals as a freshman to rank third all-time in single season goal scoring … Added seven assists in 2008 to total 33 points to rank second all-time in single season scoring … Men's Soccer Team reached the RMAC Tournament three times during his career as the fourth seed in 2008 and sixth seed in 2010 and 2011 … Team was ranked No. 24 nationally to start the 2009 season.
Pepper (Mahon) Whittlef (Volleyball, 1995-96) - First Team All-RMAC West Division 1996 … Academic All- RMAC 1996-1997 … School record 23 kills in a 3 set match … School record 26 kills in a 5 set match … School record 29 digs in a 4 set match … 386 kills in 1995 rank third in school history … 383 kills in 1996 ranks 4th in school history … 3.91 kills per set in 1996 is the second-highest single season average in program history … 3.54 kills per set in 1995 is the fifth-highest single season average in program history … Ranks fifth in program history with 1,068 career kills … Ranked 10th in program history with 2.88 kills per set.
Eugene Poston (Men's Basketball, 1954-56) – Nomination written by Tim Simmons: Not only did he earn the most valuable player award while competing for a sixth-place team in the 1956 NJCAA championships, he was an All-American. In the national championships at Hutchinson, Kansas, Poston was the second-leading scorer with 119 points for four games. My father would always say that Eugene was one of those "special" individuals that can be considered a "once-in-a-lifetime" player that a coach has the privilege of tutoring. Eugene's RELUCTANCE to accept the award should not stop the committee and/or the CSU-Pueblo athletics department in honoring Eugene Poston for his "outstanding achievements and contributions" to Pueblo College (now CSU-Pueblo).
In a book written by Michael L. Johnson entitled "The JUCO Classic", he wrote on page 78 this about Poston, "The preeminent performance of the day came in the evening's first quarter-final contest as (Poston) took the ballgame in hand, engineering an 86-77 upset of Cameron State. Though small for a center, the 6-4 sophomore possessed superior leaping ability, quickness, and timing and was a master of positioning under the basket where he completely commanded play. His game-high 39 points was not the top tally for the day, but it would have been higher, had he not missed nine free throws, and been less unselfish."
On page 79, Johnson wrote this about Poston - "Though giving away five inches, the Pueblo leader outscored and outrebounded Day (Hannibal's 6-9 center Art Day). Poston was a wizard under the basket, amazing everyone with his fluid ability."
In a footnote on page 79, an opposing player said Poston, "Was about the smoothest ballplayer I ever saw in junior college...(he was) like a well-oiled ball bearing. If the ball hung on the rim, he got it." According to the footnote, Poston was recruited by 100 schools, including the University of Kentucky.
Danita Wyatt (Women's Track and Field, 2010-12) – Earned All-American honors after finishing fifth at the 2011 NCAA Division II Outdoor National Championships in the triple jump … A two-time RMAC Champion in the triple jump (2011) and heptathlon (2012) … Totaled eight USTFCCCA All-Region awards between four seasons (two indoor and two outdoor) … A 2012 national qualifier for the triple jump (indoors) and long jump (outdoors) … The multi athlete competed in a total of 13 different events during her career at CSU-Pueblo and owns indoor school records in the 55m hurdles (8.59) and long jump (5.92m) and the outdoor school record in the triple jump (12.56m).
Joe Folda (Men's Basketball and Director of Athletics, 1987-2018) – For 31 Joe Folda served the University of Southern Colorado and CSU-Pueblo … He came to USC in 1987 as the head men's basketball coach and spent 18 years in the position, where he distinguished himself as one of the top tacticians and teachers in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference … He is the all-time winningest men's basketball coach in school history, sporting a 305-205 (.598) record from 1987-2005 … Folda then transitioned into the Director of Athletics role full-time and was the longest-tenured athletic director since legend Harry Simmons who served in the post for 16 years from 1964-80 … He was officially at the helm of Pack Athletics in 2005, after serving two interim stints in 2001 and from 2003-05 … In his term as Athletic Director, he led a significant athletic expansion, both in terms of sports, athletic facilities, and the number of student-athletes … He oversaw the growth of the athletic department from 11 programs in 2005-06 to 22 in 2014-15 and helped establish the CSU-Pueblo Athletics Hall of Fame … More than 100 All-American honors were collected by athletes since he started as full-time Athletic Director as well as two individuals and a team NCAA National Championship … The 2016-17 season saw the Pack's highest finish in the NCAA Division II Learfield Directors' Cup at 35th and the most points ever in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Cup.
Women's Basketball - 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 RMAC Tournament Champions – In his first season at the helm of CSU-Pueblo, Head Coach Kip Drown began a dominant stretch of four RMAC Tournament Championships in five years starting in 2005-06. The ThunderWolves finished 19-12 in 2006 and entered the RMAC Tournament as the sixth seed ... Laura Westerman earned RMAC Tournament MVP honors while Karin Hansen and Mary Rehfeld both claimed a spot on the All-Tournament as the Pack beat Colorado Mines 65-54 to grab its first RMAC Tournament Title and its first NCAA Tournament appearance ... Just two years later, the Pack's 21-10 record seeded them fifth in the RMAC Tournament ... The ThunderWolves upset the No. 4 seed Colorado Mesa 73-65, toppled No. 1 seed Fort Lewis in an 70-68 overtime thriller, before bouncing No. 2 seed Nebraska-Kearney 70-54 to earn its second NCAA Tournament appearance ... One year later, the Pack improved their record to 22-9 (13-6 RMAC) and won back-to-back RMAC Tournament Titles by beating Colorado Mines 62-42 at the State Fairgrounds in Pueblo ... This time Rachel Espinoza took home MVP honors while Mary Rehfeld earned All-Tournament team honors for the second consecutive season ... Amanda Bartlett also claimed a spot on the All-Tournament team ... In 2010, the Pack won its third consecutive RMAC Tournament title and fourth in five years ... Katrina Selsor received the MVP nod … Kami Dahlbar and Caitlyn Jewell were tabbed to the All-Tournament team.
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As a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, Colorado State University – Pueblo competes in 22 varsity sports in NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletics.