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February 27, 2011

PSU Wrestling ties for fourth at New England Championships

Willey wins title at 157; Eight Panthers are All-New England

            HARTFORD, Conn.  – Eight Plymouth State University wrestlers earned All-New England honors Sunday as the Panthers tied for fourth place over the weekend at the 34th Annual New England Wrestling Association (NEWA) Championships, hosted by Trinity College.

            The tie for fourth place is the best finish for Plymouth State at the New Englands since the Panthers took third in 2003.  The eight All-New England wrestlers are the most for PSU in more than 15 years, improving on the team’s seven honorees in 1996 and 1999.  The top six placers in each weight class comprise the All-New England Team.

            Springfield College won the team championship, scoring 141 points for its first title since 2006.  Two-time defending champion Williams College was runner-up with 107 points, and Wesleyan University (94.5), ranked No. 1 in New England going into the tournament, wound up third.  PSU and Johnson & Wales University each scored 81 points to round out the top five, with Roger Williams sixth with 73.5.  There were 14 teams competing for the championship.

  
  Mike Willey
   

            Junior Mike Willey (Tewksbury, Mass.) took top honors for the Panthers, winning the championship at 157 pounds and becoming a three-time All-New England wrestler.  Willey, the top seed who placed fourth in 2009 and fifth last year, defeated Andy Snyder of Coast Guard in overtime in this year’s championship bout.  Willey posted a 5-0 record in the tournament, improving his season record to 23-1 and his career mark to 64-18.  Willey earns an automatic bid to represent Plymouth State at the NCAA Division III National Championships on Mar. 11-12 at La Crosse, Wisc., the first Panther to qualify for nationals since 2007.

  
Jake Gagnon Josh Huber  
 
James Matlack Seth Carter  
     
Femi Wheeler Cody Oliverio  
   
Chris Rideout Jim Aguiar  
     

            Junior Jake Gagnon (Manchester, N.H./Memorial) was the next-best finisher for PSU, taking fourth place in the 285-pound weight class.  Gagnon finishes the season with an 18-6 record and a 43-27 career mark.  Three Panthers placed fifth in their weight class -- junior Josh Huber (Hampton, N.H./Winnacunnet) at 125 pounds, sophomore James Matlack (Hamilton, N.J.) at 165, and sophomore Seth Carter (Hudson, N.H./Alvirne) at 174.  Huber winds up 17-6 this season and is now 56-16 in his career; Matlack finishes the year at 18-10 and ups his career mark to 21-17; and Carter is 22-8 this year and 43-20 in his career.

            Three other Panthers placed sixth in their weight class -- sophomore Femi Wheeler (Mamaroneck, N.Y.) at 141, sophomore Cody Oliverio (Brick, N.J.) at 149, and junior Chris Rideout (Londonderry, N.H.) at 184.  Wheeler finishes the season with a 19-9 record, 37-25 in his career; Oliverio was 12-10 this year and is 27-21 in his career; and Rideout was 17-11 this winter and 17-13 in his career.

            Also wrestling for PSU and earning a victory before being eliminated were senior Eric Larcomb (Jefferson, N.H./White Mtn. Regional) at 197 pounds, and sophomore Derek Bolduc (Jonesville, Vt.) at 133.

            In addition, two members of the Plymouth State Wrestling family were honored by the NEWA in a ceremony prior to the championships finals.  Panther assistant coach and former head coach Jim Aguiar and former Panther All-American wrestler and PSU Athletic Hall of Famer Brian Borkowski were inducted into the NEWA Hall of Fame.

            The Panthers finished with an 8-6 dual meet record this winter under fourth-year head coach Tommy Prairie. Among the regular season highlights was a second-place finish at the New England Wrestling Association Dual Meet Championships in January. 

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