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February 21, 2004

Four Panther Wrestlers alive at New Englands

WORCESTER, Mass. - Plymouth State University is in 10th place and four Panther wrestlers are still alive after Saturday's events at the New England Collegiate Conference Wrestling Association's Annual Championships, hosted by Worcester Polytechnic Institute at Harrington Auditorium.

Defending champion Springfield leads the 15-team competition with 78 points, well ahead of runner-up WPI's 62.5. PSU is 10th with 39.5 points, one point behind Coast Guard (40.5). The tournament continues Sunday afternoon and evening, with the 10 individual champions and two other wrestlers receiving berths in the NCAA Division III National Championship Tournament.

Four Panther wrestlers were seeded in the top six in their weight class, and all four are still in the tournament -- senior Shaun Cleary (West Keansburg, N.J.) at 141 pounds, junior Dan Moskowitz (Amherst, N.H.) at 149, freshman Brandon Black (Keene, N.H.) at 157, and senior Nate Kittredge (Vergennes, Vt.) at 174.

The 2003 champion at 149, Moskowitz is making a strong bid to defend his title. The second-seeded Moskowitz received a first-round bye, posted a 10-2 decision over Rhode Island College's Luke Emmons in his first bout, and advanced to the final round with a 16-2 victory over Chris Wells of Johnson & Wales. Moskowitz will meet top-seeded Dan Whelan of Norwich in the first final match, and the winner must then face the survivor of the backdraw.

The defending champion at 184, Kittredge received the fourth seed this year at 174 pounds. He defeated Shaun Darrow of Southern Maine in his first-round match (7-0), but was handed a 12-4 loss by fifth-seeded David Bucco of Trinity in Round Two. Kittredge rebounded with two wins in the backdraw over Kevin Greener of Williams (4-1) and Dan Case of Wesleyan (10-1) and next faces third-seeded Peter Krzyzewski of WPI.

Making his first appearance at New Englands, Black earned the fourth seed at 157 and captured victories in his first two matches over Devin Pomranky of Coast Guard (18-3) and fifth-seeded Jerard Melito of Springfield (6-5). The Panther freshman suffered his first loss of the tournament to defending champion and top-seeded Joe Moskowitz of WPI (9-2), but Black moves to the backdraw where he faces Carmilo Gaviria of Roger Williams.

The sixth seed at 141, Cleary won his first two bouts over Kevin Boyes of Johnson & Wales (13-5) and third-seeded Michael Gaeta of Springfield (21-12), but was stopped in the semifinals by second-seeded Mark Foresi of Trinity (8-7). Cleary next wrestles in the backdraw against eighth-seeded Roman Walsh of WPI.

Five other wrestlers represented Plymouth State, but were eliminated with losses in their first two matches - freshman Matt Friend (Jefferson, N.H.) at 125 pounds, junior Dave Preciado (Stoneham, Mass.) at 133, senior Mike Marcotte (Bedford, N.H.) at 165, freshman Nick Gurney (Dixfield, Maine) at 184, and junior Kyle Pietrowski (Eliot, Maine) at 197.

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