SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Plymouth State College, which had four place-winners and one individual champion, won a tight battle for fourth place Saturday and Sunday at the New England Collegiate Conference Wrestling Association Championships, hosted by Springfield College.
The hosts won their fifth New England title in the last six years, scoring 136.5 points to outdistance runner-up Johnson & Wales (116.5) and third-place WPI (93). PSC was fourth with 66.5 points, just ahead of Trinity (66), Roger Williams (65.5), Coast Guard (64) and Wesleyan (61). There were 15 schools represented.
Sophomore Rich Moskowitz (Amherst, N.H.) captured the 157-pound championship for PSC. After losing to Coast Guard's Steve Nutting in the semifinals, Moskowitz was forced to come all the way through the backdraw, winning four straight matches, including a rematch over Nutting. In the championship bout, he defeated his younger brother Joe Moskowitz, a freshman at WPI, 8-4. Rich Moskowitz earns an automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships, and he will take a 29-13 record into the tournament.
Junior Jared Raymond (Danville, N.H.), freshman Dan Moskowitz (Amherst, N.H.), and senior Nate Buffington (Plymouth, N.H.) all made the awards platform in their respective weight classes for PSC. Raymond placed second at 133 pounds, Dan Moskowitz finished third at 165 pounds, and Buffington placed sixth at 125. The top six in each weight class represent the All-Conference Team.
Raymond dropped his first bout, but won five straight matches in the backdraw before losing in the championship final to Deshawn Fentress of WPI. Raymond pinned three straight opponents in the backdraw, winning the conference award for the Most Falls in the Least Time (3 falls, 3:37). He finishes the season with a 16-8 record.
Dan Moskowitz posted three straight convincing victories before falling to eventual champion James Gilbert of Johnson & Wales. Moskowitz also lost a backdraw bout to a tough foe in Coast Guard's Brendan Harris, but finishes a strong rookie campaign with a 26-16 record.
Buffington lost to the eventual third-place finisher in his opening match, but posted a pair of wins in the backdraw to set himself up to finish in the top six. He dropped his final two bouts but placed sixth to earn All-Conference honors, and finished with a 15-18 record.
It was a disappointing tournament for PSC senior Marco Salce (Keene, N.H.), junior Shaun Cleary (West Keansburg, N.J.), and sophomore Rick Simula (Plymouth, N.H.), who all had strong records going into the weekend. A two-time All-New England wrestler, Salce was eliminated with two straight losses at 184 pounds, finishing the season with a 26-11 mark. Cleary was pinned in his only two matches at 141 pounds, and completes a fine season at 24-12. Simula won just one of his three matches before being eliminated, winding up his season with a 19-14 record.
The rest of PSC's participants included sophomore Charlie Kenna (Concord, N.H.), a 133-pounder who wrestled in the 149-pound weight class, junior Chris Villa (Monmouth Jct., N.J.), who went 1-2 at 174 pounds, and freshman Taylor Kruse (Fr., Sudbury, Mass.), a 184-pounder who wrestled at 197.
Plymouth State's fourth place team finish is the best since the Panthers finished runner-up in 1999, and a jump of three notches over last year's seventh place. The Panthers, 9-7 in dual meets this season, have not had a losing season in the seven years under head coach Dave Carlson.
Rich Moskowitz becomes the 12th Panther to qualify for the NCAA Championships in the last seven years. This year's championships are Friday and Saturday, Mar. 1-2, in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., hosted by the University of Scranton & King's College.