Panthers return experienced squad in 2010-11
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University wrestling team opens the 2010-11 season this week with a pair of matches on the road.
The Panthers travel to Northfield, Vt., on Wednesday for a season-opening dual match against Norwich University. PSU then journeys to Springfield, Mass., on Saturday for the annual Doug Parker Invitational at Springfield College.
Plymouth State will have two home events this semester at Foley Gymnasium, a dual match against Rhode Island College on Wednesday, Dec. 1, and the PSU Open on Saturday, Dec. 11, sandwiched around the Ted Reese Invitational at the University of Southern Maine on Dec. 4.
|PSU Head Wrestling Coach Tommy Prairie|
Highlights of the second semester include the annual Roger Williams Invitational, the “Headlock for Hunger” New England Dual Meet Championships, and four tri-meets or quad meets.
The annual New England Conference Championships are slated for the third weekend in February at Trinity College. The New England Conference individual champions and a handful of at-large wrestlers will qualify for the NCAA Division III Championships March 11-12 in La Crosse, Wis.
2010-11 PSU Wrestling Outlook
Fourth-year head coach Tommy Prairie welcomes back 21 veterans to this year’s squad, including nine starters. Prairie says the team is the strongest PSU has had since he’s been here.
“We feel really good about this year’s team,” said Prairie. “We have four place-winners back from last year’s conference championships, and we have nine guys who are ranked in their weight class in New England. Only one other team has that.”
PSU finished the regular season last year with a 9-9-1 record, and placed ninth at the New England Championships. Prairie says with the experience of this year’s team, the Panthers should be improved in all areas.
“As a team, we do not have any holes in our line-up,” said Prairie. “We have a quality starter at every weight class. More than half our team is in their third year of college wrestling.”
Prairie says the strength of the team is in the middle weights, where PSU can put their top wrestlers on the mat at 157, 165 and 174. Junior Mike Willey (Tewksbury, Mass.) is a two-time conference place-winner at 157 who is currently ranked #1 in New England and has a career record at 41-17. Junior Dustin Rudy (Iselin, N.J./John F. Kennedy), an All-Conference wrestler at 165 two years ago, returns after missing last season with injuries, and sophomore Seth Carter (Hudson, N.H./Alvirne), who was All-Conference as a rookie last season at 165 after posting a 21-12 record, will move up to 174.
“It’s nice to have those three guys right in a row that can go out there for us,” said Prairie. “That should definitely help us in the dual meets.”
PSU can also start matches off with a bang with junior Josh Huber (Hampton, N.H./Winnacunnet) at 125 pounds. Huber won two regular season tournaments last year, finished All-Conference at the New England Championships and is ranked #2 in New England to start this season. Prairie says Huber should contend for the New England title and an NCAA Tournament berth.
Other key returnees include sophomore Femi Wheeler (Mamaroneck, N.Y.), who drops down to the 141-pound weight class this year after going 18-16 last year at 149; sophomore 149-pounder Cody Oliverio (Brick, N.J.), who missed last year after posting a 14-7 mark at 157 and 165 as a freshman; senior Eric Larcomb (Jefferson, N.H./White Mountain Regional), who was 15-8 last year at 197 pounds and placed in two tournaments; and junior Jake Gagnon (Manchester, N.H./Memorial), who is coming off a 16-8 campaign in the heavyweight division.
Prairie says three veterans will battle it out at 184 -- senior Rob Phillips (Brick, N.J.), sophomore Jesse Bilodeau (Brandon, Vt./Otter Valley Union) and junior Chris Rideout (Londonderry, N.H.).
“Our goals are to improve on everything from last year,” said Prairie. “We want to improve our record in dual meets, and we definitely want to improve on our New England finish. We want to be top three this year, and we think we can do it. We just have to keep working hard.”
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