update - got all the fluids changed and electrical connections cleaned. turned the motor by hand quite a few times and it was smooth. got it to the point to where I wanted to try to start it, and the starter would spin, but not engage. so we pulled it out and it wouldn't kick out all the way. I called my buddy up and he had one and gave it to me for free!!
got that put back in and it turned over fine, sounded right, but wouldn't run. poured a little gas in the throttle body and it ran for 3 or 4 seconds and died.
after going through everything again, we found out it had no fuel pressure. so yesterday we dropped the tank and pulled out the old pump and tested it and it was fried. I called my buddy up again and he gave me a pump he had, for free again! how cool is that? so now we're waiting for daylight to put the pump back in and try to fire it up. wish me luck!