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PSU Wrestling Team places seventh at New England Conference Championships

BRISTOL, R.I. - Plymouth State University had four individual place-winners and finished seventh out of 15 teams over the weekend at the New England College Conference Wrestling Association's annual championships, hosted by Roger Williams University.

Johnson & Wales University captured the team championship, scoring 133.5 points and breaking Springfield College's five-year hold on the title. Bridgewater State took second with 104.5 points, with Springfield (102.5), host Roger Williams (92) and Williams (76) finishing in the top five. Wesleyan (74) finished sixth, just ahead of Plymouth State (66), with Rhode Island College (60), Southern Maine (53.5) and MIT (44) rounding out the top 10.

Junior Shaun Wilbert (Toms River, N.J./Toms River South) was the top Panther wrestler, capturing the championship at 285 pounds and qualifying for the NCAA Division III National Championships in Dubuque, Iowa, on March 2-3. Wilbert (right), who placed sixth at the New Englands as a freshman and took third last year, went through this year's bracket undefeated with five straight victories. He pinned his first three opponents, and then captured the title with back-to-back decisions over Tim Ferreira of Bridgewater State. Wilbert will take a 16-8 record to his first appearance at the NCAA meet.

Three other Panthers earned a spot on the podium in their weight classes: Sophomore Shawn Moseley (Hooksett, N.H./Concord HS/Tilton Prep) placed third at 133 pounds, and freshman 125-pounder Fred Wilkinson (Quogue, N.Y.) and freshman 197-pounder Josh St. Ours (Manchester, N.H./ Memorial) captured fifth place in their divisions.

Moseley (far left), who was ranked third in New England, received a first-round bye and advanced with two straight wins, including a pin over Trevor Vernon of Roger Williams, who's ranked fifth in New England. Moseley lost his next bout to eventual champion Steven Valastro of Southern Maine, who is ranked #2 in N.E., and Moseley was defeated by Tom Cucciniello of Johnson & Wales in the 2nd-3rd place bout. Moseley completes the season with a 12-11 overall record.

Wilkinson (left, middle) won his first match at 125, but suffered a defeat to eventual champion Brandon McDonough of JWU in the second round. Wilkinson rebounded with a pair of wins in the back draw to stay alive, but got knocked out by Ryan Hannigan of Springfield. Wilkinson came back to win the 5th-6th place bout and finish his rookie campaign with a 16-12 record.

St. Ours (above, right), who entered the tournament ranked #2 in New England with a 21-3 record, won his first two matches before getting knocked into the back draw. He was defeated by Kevin Davis of Rhode Island College, but rebounded with a victory in the 5th-6th place bout and completes his season with a 24-5 mark.

PSU's six other wrestlers were eliminated from their weight classes on the first day of competition. Freshman 149-pounder Jared Laganas (Dracut, Mass.) and freshman 165-pounder Donny Connolly (Plaistow, N.H./Memorial) won two matches apiece before being eliminated with 2-2 records; junior Ryan Schieding (Manchester, N.H./Memorial) at 174 and junior Landon Nelson (Salem, N.Y.) at 184 posted 1-2 records in their weight classes; and senior Matt Friend (Jefferson, N.H./White Mountain Regional) at 141 and freshman Nick Fantony (Stoughton, Mass.) were eliminated with two straight losses.

The Panthers finished the regular season with an 8-12 record under second-year head coach Jason Holder, the most wins in a season since the team finished 9-7 in 2001-02.

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