PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The Plymouth State College wrestlers gear themselves all season to peak during the championships. That plan worked almost to perfection last weekend (Feb. 20-21) when the Panthers turned in their strongest performance of the season and finished runner-up at the New England Championships.
The Panthers, guided by fourth-year coach Dave Carlson, placed a school-record five wrestlers in the finals, and had a record seven wrestlers among the place-winners. PSC had three individual champions, two runners-up, and will send a school-record four individuals to the NCAA Division III National Championships at the College of New Jersey on Mar. 5-6.
PSC's individual New England champions were sophomore Brent Arbogast (Nashua, NH) at 141 pounds, senior Todd Oljey (Byfield, MA) at 149 pounds, and senior Ryan Carr (Salem, NH) at 285 pounds. Those three, along with junior Ben Baker (Gardiner, ME), who was runner-up at 174 pounds, will represent PSC at the NCAA Championships in two weeks.
Carlson was selected by his peers as New England Coach of the Year. In addition, Oljey received individual honors for registering the Quickest Fall (0:15) and the Most Falls in the Least Time (4, 4:21).
"We wrestled very well," said Carlson. "We wrestled to our potential. We aim to peak at the end of the year, and we're peaking now. No one gave us a chance against Springfield, but we gave them a run for their money."
The Panthers finished second with 130 points, just 10 behind champion Springfield (140). Third-place Norwich was 15 points behind with 115 points, with 15 schools competing.
"We got a lot of breaks," said Carlson. "A lot of things went our way. We won some matches in the last few seconds, and we had some kids place that we didn't expect to. One thing that made a real difference was that we pinned some people in the early rounds, which gave us team points. We took advantage of our situation. A couple of more breaks, and we could've won."
The other Panther wrestlers who finished among the place-winners were senior Russ Pamulak (Indianola, IA), who finished second at 184 pounds; freshman Dave Brown (North Andover, MA), fifth at 133 pounds; and junior Shawn Kain (Lakeville, MA), fifth at 165 pounds.
Arbogast and Carr, a pair of Granite State wrestlers, continued what have been outstanding campaigns for the Panthers. Arbogast went 5-0 in the tournament with two pins, improving his season record to 30-5, while Carr went 4-0 to improve his record to 32-5.
Arbogast pinned his first two opponents, beat his next opponent by a 12-1 score, and finished up with consecutive victories over Springfield's Keith Poloskey, who had defeated him earlier this month at PSC. Carr pulled off consecutive victories over Springfield's Marcelle Roberson, against whom he had gone 1-2 earlier this season.
Oljey had perhaps the top all-around meet for the Panthers. He pinned his first two opponents in a combined one minute, 20 seconds, before losing to second-seed Chad Sinclair of Norwich in the semi-finals, 9-4. Oljey came back to win the championship through the back draw, capturing two straight pins then defeating both Sinclair (2-1) and top-seed Joe Tucker of WPI (4-2 OT). Oljey's 6-1 tournament record gives him a 22-9 record heading into the NCAAs.
Baker and Pamulak, PSC's two runners-up, nearly captured individual titles in their respective weight classes. Baker won his first four matches, including a 7-3 decision over top-seeded John Roden of Springfield, but Roden came back to win the rematch to claim the championship. Pamulak captured his first three bouts before losing to top-seeded Lance Baden of WPI, 5-1, then dropped the rematch against Baden, 7-3, to finish runner-up. Baker takes a 22-9 record to the NCAAs, while Pamulak completes his season at 25-10.
Final records for the remaining PSC competitors include Shawn Kain (Lakeville, MA), 19-14 at 165 pounds; Dave Brown (North Andover, MA), 11-15 at 133 pounds; Todd Austin (Rumford, ME), 11-18 at 197 pounds; Nate Buffington (Plymouth, NH), 8-23 at 125 pounds; and Derek Warshafsky (Chelmsford, MA), 6-11 at 157 pounds.
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