SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Plymouth State University is in ninth place after the first day of the New England Wrestling Association's 32nd Annual Championships, hosted by Western New England College, with four Panther wrestlers still alive for All-New England honors.
Defending champion Williams College leads the 14-team field with 81.5 points, and three teams are within 11 points -- Wesleyan (74), Johnson & Wales (72.5), and Springfield (70.5). PSU has accumulated 34.5 points to sit in ninth place, trailing Roger Williams (41) and just ahead of Trinity (31.5).
The four Panthers still alive entering Sunday's competition are sophomore Josh Huber (Hampton, N.H./Winnacunnet) at 125 pounds, senior Freddie Wilkinson (Quogue, N.Y./Riverhead) at 133, sophomore Mike Willey (Tewksbury, Mass.) at 157, and freshman Seth Carter (Hudson, N.H./Alvirne) at 165.
Huber, the top seed at 125, won his first two bouts of the tournament but was upset in his third match by senior Carl Anderson, the fifth seed from WPI, 3-2. Huber will begin Sunday with a backdraw match against sophomore Brandon Gauthier of Rhode Island College.
Wilkinson was defeated by WNEC freshman Anthony Medina in the opening round, 8-6, but rebounded with a pair of backdraw victories to remain alive. His next match is Sunday against Williams College freshman Cesare Antista.
Willey, a returning All-New England wrestler who placed fifth last year, receive a first-round bye this year and won his first bout on the mat, but was defeated in overtime by Bridgewater State senior Frank Cammisa in his next match, 3-2. Willey will have to battle back in the backdraw, where he will face senior Dave Bachy of Wesleyan in his next encounter on Sunday.
Carter also received a first-round bye in the competition and recorded a victory in his first match. He went to overtime in his next bout but was defeated by Wesleyan senior Josh Berkovic for his first loss of the tournament. Carter will face Coast Guard senior Matt Leisy in his next bout on Sunday.
Three other Panther wrestlers won two bouts apiece before being eliminated with 2-2 records - freshman Femi Wheeler (Mamaroneck, N.Y.) at 149, junior Rob Phillips (Brick, N.J.) at 184, and sophomore Jake Gagnon (Manchester, N.H./Memorial) at 285.
PSU's other three wrestlers were knocked out with two straight setbacks, junior Pat Cassella (Merrimack, N.H.) at 141 pounds, sophomore Dan Curley (Keokuk, Iowa) at 174, and junior Eric Larcomb (Jefferson, N.H.) at 197.
The championships will conclude on Sunday with wrestling all day, beginning at 9:30 a.m. The final round, which is slated to begin at 5:00 p.m., will be preceded by the introduction of the newest NEWA Hall of Fame members. Among the inductees is PSU head coach Tommy Prairie, a former three-time First Team All-American wrestler at Williams College.
-- 30 -