PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Another sports season at Plymouth State College gets underway Saturday when the Panther wrestling team begins the 1999-2000 season with a match at Bridgewater State College (2 p.m.).
The Panthers are looking at another strong season under fifth-year head coach Dave Carlson, a two-time New England Coach of the Year. Carlson has a group of solid returnees, including three All-Conference wrestlers, a New England runner-up and an NCAA qualifier.
"I've said since the day I walked in the door," said Carlson, "that we work hard every year to challenge for the New England Conference championship, and to be competitive nationally. I think we've done all right for ourselves the past few years."
Last year was a perfect example of the success Carlson has instilled in the Panther program. After a 12-6 regular season, PSC gave heavily favored Springfield a run for its money at the New England Championships before settling for runner-up, and Carlson was named Coach of the Year. Four Panthers wrestlers advanced to the NCAA Championships, combing to give PSC a 22nd place finish overall.
Plymouth State will compete in the Roger Williams Open next Saturday (Nov. 13) in Bristol, R.I., setting the stage for the home opener on Wednesday, Nov. 17, against Norwich (7 p.m.).
1999-2000 P.S.C. Wrestling Outlook
Carlson will rely on a solid group of upperclassmen to lead the way. The coach counts on his veterans for leadership, both physically and mentally, through what is a long and grueling wrestling season.
"We've got another good crew of veterans," says Carlson. "They've survived three years, they know what it takes to make it through the season, what works and what doesn't. They know why we train the way we do. They are instrumental in teaching the younger kids the benefits of working at this level."
Of the four individuals PSC sent to the nationals last season, the only returning NCAA veteran is senior Ben Baker (Gardiner, ME). He went 24-11 overall last season and was runner-up at 174 pounds at the New Englands.
The Panthers also welcome the return of All-Conference wrestlers Dave Brown (North Andover, Mass.) and Shawn Kain (Lakeville, MA). Brown finished fifth in New England at 133 pounds, and Kain placed fifth at 165 pounds, finishing with a 19-14 record.
PSC will also look to seniors Nick Volpe (Holmdel, NJ), who was 12-10 at 134 pounds, and Mike DeRoehn (Warren, NH), who sat out last season with a redshirt. Other projected starters include returnees Nate Buffington (Plymouth, NH) at 125 pounds, Marco Salce (Keene, NH) or Moses Cerritos (Naples, FL) at 184 and Todd Austin (Rumford, Maine) at 197. Top newcomers look like sophomore Eric Runci (Whitman, Mass.) at 149 and Bruce MacKay (Plymouth, NH) at heavyweight.
"We ask them to work hard, and we teach them to believe in themselves," said Carlson. "You don't know what's going to happen. We spend a lot of time teaching them that anything is possible if they commit themselves."
Carlson has been a staple of success since arriving at PSC. He has guided his Panthers teams to a combined 41-21-1 record, with New England finishes of 1st, 4th 3rd, and 2nd. Plymouth State has sent representatives to the NCAA Championships every year under Carlson, with five wrestlers earning All-America honors.
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