Most Memorable Sporting Event
UNC was Colorado State College when I saw my most memorable sports event on Jan. 24, 1963.
CSC had become a wrestling powerhouse under the leadership of coaches John Hancock and Jack LaBonde. Their wrestlers won numerous conference championships and some attained All-American status.
Oklahoma State University, the national collegiate champion, had won 37 straight matches. The week before coming to Greeley, the Cowboys beat the University of Oklahoma, the top-ranked team in the nation at the time. More than 2,900 people packed the stands in Gunter Hall. Fans filled the floor of the former gym up to the mats. They were not disappointed. One of the highlights came when 147-pounder Jim Crider pinned his opponent. Crider, a sophomore, pinned undefeated Roy Brewer. The crowd went crazy. Crider was carried off the mat by his teammates.
Then, when it came down to the final match, OSU All-American Joe James was pitted against CSC newcomer Bill Echols, who hadn’t wrestled for CSC varsity before, and was a last-minute substitute because the other heavyweight was injured. Though Echols was pinned in the second period of the match, the overall team match ended in an 18-18 tie.
OSU’s unbeaten, untied record was broken. And, even though it wasn’t a win, the crowd went wild, cheering, carrying the wrestlers around on their shoulders, shaking hands, patting backs. Coach Hancock said to the reporters, “every member of our team wrestled the best he had in his entire lifetime.” It was a match I’ll never forget.
–Mike Peters ’68