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PSU Wrestlers to make 2008-09 season debut

            PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The Plymouth State University wrestling team will make a pair of road trips to Vermont and Massachusetts this week to kick off the 2008-09 season.

            The Panthers will face Norwich University this Wednesday, Nov. 19, in a season-opening dual meet at 7:00 p.m., and will make the visit to Springfield, Mass. for this Saturday's (Nov. 22) annual Doug Parker Invitational, hosted by Springfield College. 

            PSU's home opener at Foley Gymnasium is a dual meet against Rhode Island College at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 3.  The rest of the first semester schedule includes the Ted Reese Tournament the first Saturday in December at the University of Southern Maine, and a quad-meet at Southern Maine the following Saturday with Roger Williams University and American International College.

            Highlights of the second semester include three tournaments in January -- the Scott Viera Invitational at Roger Williams on Jan. 4, the PSU Invitational on the 10th, and the New England Conference Dual Meet Championships on the 18th.  The Panthers also have a home quad match on Feb. 8 with Springfield, Trinity and Johnson & Wales, and the all-important New England Conference Championships are slated for the third weekend in February at Springfield.

            The New England Conference individual champions and a handful of at-large wrestlers will qualify for the NCAA Division III Championships on Mar. 6-7 at Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 

2008-09 PSU Wrestling Outlook

            Second-year head coach Tommy Prairie welcomes back 13 veterans to this year's squad, including two All-New England wrestlers. It is a young Panther squad, with only two seniors and two juniors on the roster of 25.

            "We have one of the strongest freshman classes in New England," said Prairie (right).  "Three of our new guys were ranked among the top newcomers in the country.  With some solid veterans returning as well, we feel we're pretty solid all the way through the line-up."

            The Panthers are coming off a seventh place finish out of 15 teams at the New England Championships after a 7-12-1 dual match campaign.  Prairie thinks the Panthers can improve on that this season.

            "We didn't lose that much from last year," said Prairie.  "We have a lot of talent on the team, but we have a lot of unproven guys, too.  It's been a positive atmosphere in the room, because everyone is still looking to prove themselves this year."

            Leading the group of returnees is a pair of New England place winners - senior Josh St. Ours (Manchester, N.H./Memorial) at 197 pounds and junior Fred Wilkinson (Quogue, N.Y./Riverhead) at 125.  St. Ours recorded a 20-11 record last year and placed fifth in New England in the heavyweight (285 pounds) division, while Wilkinson placed sixth at 125 and finished with a 17-14 overall record. Chris Greenwood (Manchester, N.H./West) is the only other senior on this year's team. He will see plenty of action at 125 and 133 after posting a 13-11 record last season. 

            Other key returnees include junior Joe McGowan (Lincolnville, Maine/Camden Hills) at 141, sophomore Dustin Rudy (Iselin, N.J.) at 165, sophomore Kyle Moseley (Hooksett, N.H./Brooks School) at 174, and sophomore Eric Larcomb (Jefferson, N.H./White Mountain Regional) at 184.

            The top newcomers, according to Prairie, are freshman 149-pounder Logan Russell (Bath, Maine), a four-time Maine state placer; freshman 157-pounder Mike Willey (Tewksbury, Mass.), a former high school All-New England wrestler; freshman 165-pounder Jimmy Tarpey (Tewksbury, Mass.), a former Massachusetts state champion; and freshman Jake Gagnon (Manchester, N.H./Memorial), a high school All-New England wrestler last year.

            The Panthers are fortunate to have four assistant coaches this year, veteran assistant Jim Aguiar and former Panther standouts Ryan Schieding, Billy Wilbert and Bobby Murray.

            "It's a huge help for us, having a coach for all weight classes now," said Prairie.  "It allows us to give more attention to everyone in practice."

            Prairie thinks this year's Panther team can compete with the top schools in New England.

            "Right now there are no front-runners to win the conference," said Prairie.  "Realistically, we could have eight or nine guys place at New Englands.  The goal is to place all 10.  If we stay healthy and everything falls right, we are looking to place in the top three." 

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