Header Background

Willey captures second straight N.E. Wrestling title

Wheeler, Phillips, Curley also All-New England for Panthers

            MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – Plymouth State University senior Mike Willey captured his second straight New England wrestling championship Sunday evening, leading the Panthers to an eighth-place finish at the New England Wrestling Association (NEWA) Championships, hosted by Wesleyan University.

            Willey, the 2011 New England champion at 157 pounds, claimed the 149-pound title this year, winning all five bouts in the tournament.  He defeated Wesleyan junior Howard Tobochnik on his home mat twice on Sunday to earn the title, winning 3-2 in round six and 2-1 in a tiebreaker in the championship bout.  Willey will take a 22-3 season record and an 86-23 career mark to La Crosse, Wisc., on Mar. 9-10, where he will represent PSU at the NCAA Division III National Championships for the second straight year.

  Willey Wheeler
  Phillips Curley

            Willey was one of four Panther wrestlers to earn All-New England honors in the tournament by finishing in the top six in their weight class.  Junior Femi Wheeler finished runner-up at 157 pounds after dropping a tough 3-1 decision in the title bout, and Panther seniors Rob Phillips and Dan Curley completed their careers earning All-New England honors with fourth and fifth-place finishes, respectively.

            The Panthers finished in eighth place in the 14-team event; PSU scored 58 points, just 5.5 points behind seventh-place US Coast Guard Academy and 14 ahead of ninth-place Williams College.  Host Wesleyan (126) won its first the team championship since 1984, edging Springfield College (125.5) by one-half point for the title.

            Wheeler finished the tournament with a 4-2 mark, completing the season with a 21-7 record.  Both of his losses in the tournament were to Springfield College senior Ryan McGilvray, who outlasted Wheeler in a tiebreaker (3-2) in round six before taking another 3-2 decision in the final. Wheeler is now a two-time All-New England performer, having finished sixth at 141 pounds a year ago.

            Phillips and Curley both finished the tournament with a 4-2 record to claim All-New England recognition.  Phillips picked up a consolation-round win in the 184-pound bracket Sunday morning before finishing fourth overall with a loss to Nick Camera of Springfield.  Phillips wraps up his season with a 28-10 record, the most wins on the team.  Curley suffered his second loss of the tournament at 174 pounds Sunday morning but bounced back to defeat freshman Ryan Cassidy of Bridgewater State University in the fifth-place match. Curley, who winds up his season with an 11-14 record, also received the tournament's Fastest Pin Award after recording a consolation win by fall in 22 seconds.

            PSU senior Jimmy Tarpey won two matches at 165 pounds but was eliminated on Saturday evening with his second loss. Sophomore Alex Cronin recorded a consolation round win at 133 pounds for PSU but was knocked out of the tournament with his second loss.

            Three others represented Plymouth State but were eliminated with two straight losses – freshman Josh Thornton at 141 pounds, freshman Adam Reed at 197, and senior Jake Gagnon at 285.



held at Wesleyan University, Middletown, Conn., Sat-Sun., Feb. 25-26, 2012




 1.  Wesleyan  126

 2. Springfield 125.5

 3. Johnson & Wales  87.5

 4. Roger Williams 80

5. Rhode island College 71

6. Bridgewater State 66

7. Coast Guard 63.5

8. Plymouth State 58

9. Williams 44

10. Southern Maine 43.5

11. WPI 43

12. Western New England 40.5

13. Trinity 33.5

14. Norwich 1.5




125 - Michael Giorgio (CG) def. Brian Gauthier (RIC), 10-1

133 - Joe Grippi (Spfld) def. Joey Schwartz (Wes), 11-2

141 - Cesare Antista (Wlms) def. Shawn Giblin (RIC), 10-3
149 - Mike Willey (PSU) def. Howard Tobochnik (Wes), 2-1 (TB1)

157 - Ryan McGilvray (Spfld) def. Femi Wheeler (PSU), 3-2

165 - Derrick Longo (Spfld) def. Lucas Taylor (CG), 10-1

174 - Kyle Roosa (Wes) def. Sean Prell (JWU), 13-8

184 - Jefferson Ajayi (Wes) def. Nick Camera (Spfld), 3-0

197 - Luke Erickson (Wes) def. Phil Ernst (RWU), 4-1

285 - Pat Walsh (BSU) def. Tom Foote (Wlms), 3-0


Most Outstanding wrestler of the tournament - Michael Giorgio (CG)

Fastest Fall - Dan Curley (PSU), 0:22

Most Falls in least aggregate time - Jamison Sacco (WNE), 5 in 5:13

NEWA Rookie of the Year - Michael Giorgio (CG)

NEWA Coach of the Year - Drew Black (Wes)


Note - Each champion receives an automatic berth in the NCAA Division III Championships March 9-10, 2012 at the U of Wisconson-La Crosse.  Additional at-large selections as chosen by the coaches are Brian Gauther (125 - RIC), Tom Foote (285 - Wlms), Shawn Giblin (141- RIC) and Collin Crowell (165- RWU).

 -- 30 --