Willey to represent Panthers for second straight season
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Plymouth State University's two-time New England wrestling champion is set to make his second straight appearance in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III Championships in La Crosse, Wis.
Senior Mike Willey (Tewksbury, Mass.) will represent the Panthers this Friday and Saturday, Mar. 9-10, in the 149-pound weight class after capturing his second straight New England championship last month. He is returning to the NCAA national championship tournament after wrestling at 157 pounds last year, where he was defeated by the fifth and fourth seeds in his only two bouts. Willey takes a 22-3 season record and a 15-match winning streak into the tournament.
This year's 149-pound bracket was released Monday, and Willey has drawn the No. 1 seed in the first round, two-time NCAA national runner-up senior Tony Valek of Augsburg, who is 29-0 this season and 131-24 in his career. The bracket includes 16 wrestlers in a double-elimination format, with the top eight competitors seeded. Willey has not faced any of the other 15 entries.
Willey, who has a 45-6 record in the last two years and an 86-23 career mark, has enjoyed another outstanding season. He went 5-0 to capture the 149-pound title at the Doug Parker Invitational at Springfield College in November, and won all five bouts en route to the New England Championship in February. Willey has won 15 in a row since a setback to an Elizabethtown College (Pa.) wrestler on Jan. 14.
Willey and his teammates recorded a 5-13 dual match record this season under first-year head coach Matt Eldredge. The Panthers finished 11th of 14 teams at the New England Dual Meet Championships in January and eighth of 14 at the New England Conference Championships last month.
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