District 32 wrestlers whose teams had tough year enjoy fresh start in individual tourney
GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP - Team success is a thing of the past. The District 32 wrestling brackets don't play favorites.
Districts don't factor in which teams had winning records, won Cape-Atlantic League conference titles or qualified for the state team tournament.
Lineup strategy and the bumping of wrestlers away from each other is over until next season.
"This is great," Holy Spirit sophomore standout Pat D'Arcy said. "I love wrestling in districts.
"It's nice to start wrestling individually for your school."
D'Arcy will look for his second 106-pound District 32 title today at Absegami High School. The semifinals will begin at noon with the finals expected to start around 4 p.m.
D'Arcy pinned Absegami's Kelvin Siem in the second period in his quarterfinal match Friday and will wrestle fourth-seeded Justin Bishop of Mainland Regional in the semifinals.
Holy Spirit won just four matches this season but that was due to a lack of depth, not talent.
Spirit had to forfeit a handful of bouts throughout the team season and struggled to compete.
But that's not the case for the Spartans in districts.
"We're looking to put four guys in the finals," D'Arcy said.
The Spartans' Brandon Bower (138 pounds), Ed Sooy (145) and Ray Ellis (285) won their respective quarterfinal matches to join D'Arcy in the semifinals.
Absegami's Jack Willette enjoyed plenty of team success during his first three years of high school but was one of just a few seniors on a young team this season.
The Braves went 7-21 but have five wrestlers still in the hunt for district titles.
Yanni Patsaros (113), Willette (145), Will Sanz (195), Tiger Kirvay (220) and Roman Rudisill (285) all will look to finish among the top three in their weight classes to qualify for next week's Region 8 tournament.
"This is everything," Willette said. "Nobody remembers if you lose a match (in a dual) during the season. It's about what happens out here in districts, regions and states."
Willette pinned Egg Harbor Township's Rece Thompson in the second period Friday and will face Holy Spirit's Sooy today in the semifinals.
Willette is a defending district champ but will likely have to go through two-time district champ Dillan Berghof of Buena Regional in order to repeat.
Willette fell just short of qualifying for the state tournament last season.
"I want to place in states - that's what my goal is," Willette said. "I have to work hard in every match like it's the last match of my life, because it is."
Cesar Balmaceda was one of the highlights of Atlantic City's season.
The Vikings went 9-17 this year in the tough CAL American.
Balmaceda won his first 29 matches of the season before dropping a decision to 2012 Nutley state qualifier Brandon Keena on Feb. 16.
"I look forward to this a lot," Balmaceda said. "It helps us put our team out there because our team is not that strong so you want to represent it."
Balmaceda said the loss was a "wakeup call" and doesn't plan on losing again this season.
"It's the best time of the year," Balmaceda said. "I look forward to this all year. This is what I've been working up to all year - I want a district title."
Ocean City's Clint Pearson pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the night - at least according to seed - in the wide-open 285-pound class.
Pearson is the No. 7 seed and won a 3-2 decision against second-seeded Doug Flitcroft of Lower Cape May.
Flitcroft won a 2-1 decision against Pearson on Feb. 4.
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