Tough Competition for Wrestlers & Teams

Tough Competition for Wrestlers & Teams One of the most difficult feats in any sport is to win a state championship in wrestling. That is especially the case in New Jersey, which is considered among the top wrestling states. The state finals always draw capacity crowds at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

There are only 14 state champions, and the difference between winning and finishing second is often minimal.

This wasn’t a strong year for South Jersey wrestlers, at least concerning earning state titles. There was just one state champ from the seven-county South Jersey area. That was Patrick D’Arcy of Holy Spirit, who captured the 126-pound title with a 4-1 overtime victory over Anthony Cefolo of Hanover Park.

This was one of the more impressive feats of the weekend. First off, D’Arcy had to beat a two-time defending state champion.

This continued the steady progression for D’Arcy, who was third in the state as a sophomore and second a year ago.

The competition was so fierce that only two South Jersey wrestlers finished second. Both came in the upper weights.

St. Joseph’s C.J. La Fragola was runnerup at 182, and Holy Cross junior Matt Correnti finished second at 195.

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La Fragola, a football standout on the Wildcats team that finished as the consensus No. 1 squad in South Jersey, lost a 5-1 decision to Bergen Catholic’s Kevin Mulligan in the final. That ended his season with a 43-2 record.

Correnti had an excruciating final, one that shows a match isn’t over until the clock runs out. He lost 5-3 in overtime to Keansburg’s Tyree Sutton. Give Sutton credit for overcoming a 3-1 deficit late in regulation to send the bout into overtime.

As we have often stated, it is so difficult just to wrestle in Atlantic City the final day, and those who got to the finals accomplished a tremendous feat.

South Jersey also had one wrestler, Clearview’s Zack Firestone, finish third. Firestone captured the third place match at 120 pounds with an 8-6 victory over Anthony Rubinetti of Northern Valley.

As for teams from South Jersey, four finished in the final state Top 25 rankings according to the NJSIAA wrestling coaches.

The highest ranked South Jersey team was Paulsboro, which finished No. 10 with a 25-1 record. Paulsboro won the South Jersey Group 1 title and advanced to the state final before falling to powerhouse Bound Brook, 41-18.

The other South Jersey teams were No. 13 Clearview (17-3), No. 15 Delsea (25-3), and No. 16 St. Augustine (18-8).

The top three from South Jersey are from Gloucester County, which has long been a wrestling hotbed.

Just because there weren’t many highly ranked teams and just one state champion from South Jersey, doesn’t mean the wrestling isn’t strong.

What it means is that the wrestling was unbelievably strong in North Jersey, which is no surprise in such a competitive state.

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Author: Marc Narducci

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