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Panther Wrestlers to open 2003-04 season

PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The Plymouth State University wrestling team is set to open the 2003-04 season, and will make its debut this weekend at Oneonta State (N.Y.) Invitational.

The Panthers will also compete in the RIT Tournament in Rochester, N.Y., the first weekend in December. The first home competition of the season is a quad-meet on Dec. 13 against Southern Maine, Roger Williams and Western New England.

The second semester schedule includes the PSU Invitation in January, the New England Conference Dual Meet Championships a week later, and 12 other dual meets over a five-week span. The all-important New England Championships are slated for the third weekend in February.

Second-year head coach Don Perrin welcomes back 11 veterans from last year's team. Plymouth State finished 4-9 in dual meets a year ago but turned in a strong performance at the New Englands with a third place finish at the 15-team event. Two Panthers captured New England Championships and qualified for the NCAA Division III National Championships.

2003-04 PSU Wrestling Outlook

"Our goal is to finish in the top three in New England," says Perrin. "That's our primary focus, but this year we also want to have a better dual meet record."

Look for the Panthers to have another solid team in 2003-04, with the return of five All-New England wrestlers. Perrin is encouraged by the veterans and the newcomers and is optimistic for the season.

"Our strength is our upperclassmen," says Perrin, a former All-New England wrestler for Plymouth State who is now in his second year as head coach. "We have some very strong veterans back in some key weight classes. They should provide excellent leadership for the whole team."

Leading the cast of returnees is a pair of defending New England champions -- junior 149-pounder Dan Moskowitz (Amherst, N.H.) and senior co-captain and 184-pounder Nate Kittredge (Vergennes, Vt.). Moskowitz finished with a 19-8 record last season and went to the NCAA Championships, and can wrestle at both 149 and 157. Kittredge finished with a 25-4 record but missed the NCAA Meet with an injury suffered in winning the New England title. He could see the mat at 184 or 174.

Other key Panther returnees include senior co-captains Shaun Cleary (West Keansburg, N.J.) at 141 pounds and Rick Simula (Plymouth, N.H.) at heavyweight. Cleary placed third in New England last year and posted an impressive 34-5 record, and is ranked fourth in New England in the early-season polls. Simula was All-New England and finished 24-12. Senior Jared Raymond (Epping, N.H.), who was New England runner-up at 133 pounds two years ago, returns after sitting out last season.

Other returning veterans include senior Charlie Kenna (Concord, N.H.) at 141, junior Taylor Kruse (Sudbury, Mass.) at 184, senior Mike Marcotte (Bedford, N.H.) at 157, junior Aaron Miller (Franklin, N.H.) at 149, junior Kyle Pietrowski (Eliot, Maine) at 197, and junior Dave Preciado (Stoneham, Mass.) at 133. Perrin says the top newcomers should be freshmen Matt Friend (Jefferson, N.H.) at 125 and Brandon Black (Keene, N.H.) at 149/157, and sophomores Dean Miller (Long Valley, N.J.) at 165 and Nick Gurney (Dixfield, Maine) at 174/184.

"We have several guys who could challenge for some top individual honors," says Perrin, "but we want to maintain the focus on the team and achieving team goals. We have the basis for what could be a very successful season."

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