By Ken Nguyen
In the first round, Plymouth State University was unfortunately pitched against Johnson & Wales University, which has achieved its third NCAA Division III championship in a row recently and is considered a national Division III powerhouse. Consequently, our athletes were overwhelmed and lost 54-0.
In the second round, Plymouth State faced off against Bridgewater State University, in which two freshmen Angelo Folino (New Hartford, CT) and Josh Fernandez (Haverstraw, NY) edged over their respective opponents to earn their team a total of 7 points. Their teammates’ results weren’t quite as good, however, and our Panthers lost to the Bridgewater Bears 44-7.
The third round saw Folino picking up another win, this time against Wesleyan University. Sophomore Billy Dunn (Sudbury, MA) and senior Steve Abusheery (North Attleboro, MA) also won by forfeit. Three said wins put our Panthers at a total of 18 points, which paled against the Cardinals’ 33.
Plymouth State ended its fourth round empty handed once more, against the Cadets of Norwich University. The opponent outmaneuvered our Panthers by 50 points.
When asked about his opinion on his team’s performance at this year’s NEWA Championships, Abusheery said: “It was a learning experience. While the scoreboard didn’t go our way all day, a team that is as young as ours gets an excellent chance to grown and improve bit by bit and understand college wrestling more and more each time they step on the mat.”
Abusheery also shared his thoughts on how the team can improve moving forward: “I think it’s about accepting that we all need to change the way we wrestle and finding that the things you were most comfortable doing are simply not going to work anymore, which can be hard to do after wrestling a certain way for years.”
As Abusheery said, while the scoreboard may not seem appealing, it was a valuable learning experience for Plymouth State’s Wrestling team. After a 2-week break, our Panthers are coming back to compete at Bridgewater State this Saturday, Feb. 1, at 2p.m.