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PSU Wrestlers to host Norwich in 2007-08 season opener

            PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The Plymouth State University wrestling team will open the 2007-08 season at home next Wednesday (Nov. 14) with a 6:00 p.m. dual match against Norwich University at Foley Gymnasium.

            The match will mark the debut of Panther head coach Tommy Prairie, who took over from Jason Holder last May.  Prairie (right) is a former three-time New England champion and three-time First Team All-America for Williams College.

            After the opener against Norwich, the Panthers will make the visit to Oneonta, N.Y., on Saturday, Nov. 17, for the annual Red Dragon Invitational. PSU will have two more road matches after Thanksgiving, a dual at Rhode Island College and a tournament at Southern Maine, before wrapping up the first semester with a home quad meet at Foley Gymnasium on Saturday, Dec. 8.

            Highlights of the second semester schedule include three tournaments in January -- the North/South Duals at Ursinus (Pa.) on the 5th, the PSU Invitational on the 13th, and the New England Conference Dual Meet Championships on the 20th.  The all-important New England Conference Championships are slated for the third weekend in February at Southern Maine.

            Individual champions at the New England Conference championships automatically advance to the NCAA Division III National Championships.

2007-08 PSU Wrestling Outlook

            Coach Prairie welcomes back 13 veterans to the squad of 28 wrestlers, including seven starters and three All-New England wrestlers. PSU also has solid depth on the squad, according to the coach.

            "We have at least two solid wrestlers in every weight class," says Prairie, a former Prep All-American at Blair Academy in Blairstown, N.J.  "We are also a very young team, with only six seniors and juniors combined."

            The Panthers are coming off a seventh place finish out of 15 teams at the New England Championships after an 8-12 dual match campaign.  Prairie says this year's team is looking for improvement every day.

            "The goal this year is to improve every day, and to do better at every event that we went to last year," says Prairie.  "Dual matches, tournaments, New Englands, everything.  Last year we had a great freshman class, and they all have a year of college wrestling under their belts, so that should really help us."

            Leading the group of returnees are three conference place-winners -- junior Shawn Moseley (Hooksett, N.H./Concord HS/Tilton Prep), senior Josh St. Ours (Manchester, N.H./Memorial), and sophomore Fred Wilkinson (Quogue, N.Y./Riverhead). Moseley placed third at the New Englands at 133 pounds, while St. Ours was fifth at 197 and Wilkinson was fifth at 125.  St. Ours led the team in wins with a sparkling 24-5 record.

            The Panthers have four other returning starters who should all challenge for top-six positions in their weight class at the New Englands, according to Prairie - senior Landon Nelson (Salem, N.Y./Washington Academy) at 184, senior Ryan Schieding (Manchester, N.H./Memorial) at 174, sophomore Donny Connolly (Plaistow, N.H./Timberlane) at 165, and sophomore Jared Laganas (Dracut, Mass./Dracut) at 157.

            Prairie says that a couple of freshmen or some of the returning veterans are challenging for the remaining open starting spots.

            "We have a really close-knit team," says Prairie.  "There's a real family atmosphere, and (assistant coach) Jim Aguiar has been a big help with the transition.  Our goal is to establish ourselves as a top team in New England, and our ultimate goal is to win the New Englands. Our focus is on the New Englands, and peaking at the end of the season."

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