PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Plymouth State University wrestling begins a new era this weekend as the Panthers open the 2005-06 season under coach Jason Holder.
Holder (right) took over at the end of last season after serving two years as an assistant under former coach Don Perrin. Holder, a Granite State native and former NCAA national qualifier for Boston University, and the Panthers will make the season debut this Sunday at the annual Oneonta State (N.Y.) Tournament.
The Panthers will also compete in the annual RIT Tournament in
Rochester, N.Y., the first weekend in December, following a dual
meet at Rhode Island College on Wed., Nov. 30. The first semester
schedule wraps up with a tri-meet at Western New England College
with Roger Williams University.
Highlights on the second semester schedule include three tournaments in January -- the North/South Duals at Ursinus (Pa.) on the 7th, the PSU Invitational on the 14th,, and the New England Conference Dual Meet Championships on the 22nd. The Panthers have two other home matches on Jan. 18 and Jan. 29, and the all-important New England Conference Championships are slated for the third weekend in February at Wesleyan University.
Coach Holder welcomes back eight veterans from last year's team, including two All-New England wrestlers.
2005-06 PSU Wrestling Outlook
Plymouth State, with a roster of 21 wrestlers, is gearing up for a solid season under Coach Holder. The Panthers are coming off a sixth place finish at the New England Conference Championships last season.
"We have a young team, with a lot of young talent," says Holder, a former high school all-american at Timberlane (N.H.). "We have two returning New England place winners, and we have strong leadership from the upperclassmen."
"We're aiming high this year," says Holder. "Our focus is the New England Tournament. Our goal is to place as high as possible in the New England conference."
Leading the group of returnees is a pair of New England place winners -- junior Brandon Black (Keene, N.H.) and sophomore Shaun Wilbert (Toms River, N.J.). Black is a two-time All-New England wrestler after finishing runner-up at 165 last season. Wilbert placed sixth in the heavyweight division as a freshman.
"We have high expectations from those two," says Holder. "We're also looking for big things from some of the other returning veterans. It is time for some of our upperclassmen to step up and place in the conference."
The group Holder is referring to includes senior tri-captains Billy Wilbert (Toms River, N.J.) at 197 and Nick Gurney (Dixfield, Maine) at 184, junior tri-captain Matt Friend (Jefferson, N.H.) at 133, and sophomore Ryan Schieding (Manchester, N.H./Memorial) at 157.
Holder says the young wrestlers will gain a lot of valuable experience and get the chance to prove themselves. "We have five newcomers who were past high school state champions," he says.
Leading the newcomers are freshmen Devon Hanson (Sanbornton, N.H./Timberlane) at 141, B.J. Allen (Derry, N.H./Pinkerton) and Shawn Moseley (Hooksett, N.H./Concord HS/Tilton Prep) at 133, and Zeth Nolda (East Lyme, Conn./Waterford) at 149, and sophomore Steve Spain (Goffstown, N.H.) at 149.
"We're strong in the upper weight classes," says Holder, "and young but talented in the lower and middle weights. If we work hard and stay disciplined, we have the nucleus for what should be a good season."
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