PSU Wrestling edges RIC with exciting comeback

            PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Plymouth State University won five of the final six bouts Wednesday evening, rallying from a 14-0 deficit to pull out an 18-17 victory over Rhode Island College in a New England Wrestling Association dual match at Foley Gymnasium.

            RIC took a 14-0 lead in the team scoring with wins in the first four bouts, but PSU battled back.  The Panthers were still down 17-9 with two matches remaining, but junior Chris Rideout (Londonderry, N.H.) recorded a decision for the Panthers at 197 pounds, and classmate Jake Gagnon (Manchester, N.H./Memorial) clinched the victory for PSU when he pinned his opponent in just 22 seconds in heavyweight division.

            PSU, which came into the match ranked tied for fifth in New England, improves to 2-0 in dual matches.  RIC, which is ranked ninth in New England, drops to 0-1 in duals.  There were four matches featuring New England-ranked wrestlers going head-to-head, and RIC won all four.

            The Anchormen got off to a strong start when junior Brandon Gauthier (Lowell, Mass.) recorded a 6-2 victory over PSU junior Josh Huber (Hampton, N.H.) at 125 pounds.  Gauthier, ranked fifth in New England at 125, handed Huber, ranked first in New England, his first loss of the season.

            Sophomore Mike Sugermeyer (Hampden, Mass.), junior Mike Trasso (Lyndhurst, N.J.) and senior Kevin Sunderland (Dauphin, Pa.) followed with decisions for the Anchormen to make the team score 14-0.  Trasso, No. 2 in New England at 141, defeated fourth-ranked PSU sophomore Femi Wheeler (Mamaroneck, N.Y.), and Sunderland, ranked No. 2 at 149, downed PSU’s seventh-ranked sophomore Cody Oliverio (Brick, N.J.)

            Plymouth State answered with three consecutive victories, all by decision.  Junior Mike Willey (Tewksbury, Mass.), ranked No. 1 in New England at 157 pounds, put PSU on the board and junior Dustin Rudy (Iselin, N.J.) and sophomore Seth Carter (Hudson, N.H./Alvirne) followed with wins at 165 and 174 to pull PSU to within 14-9.

            The last bout between ranked wrestlers went down to the wire, and RIC senior Chris Dean (Copiague, N.Y.), ranked No. 8 in New England, upset PSU junior Rob Phillips (Brick, N.J.), ranked fifth in New England, 5-4.   That gave RIC a 17-9 lead, but PSU pulled out the match with the victories by Rideout and Gagnon.

            The Panthers return to the mat this Saturday when the travel to the University of Southern Maine for the annual Ted Reese Invitational.  The next match for RIC is the home opener on Friday, Dec. 10, against Western New England College.

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