Cedar Creek photo

Coach John Cheatham (right) works with Eric Hanusewicz (bottom) and Patt McGinnis during wrestling practice at Cedar Creek High School on Tuesday.

Ben Fogletto

The tournament doesn't exist.

No banners commemorating the achievement are in the works.

There is no trophy.

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But if there were it would rest proudly at Cedar Creek High School.

The Pirates beat intra-district foe Oakcrest 46-16 on Jan. 19 in the unofficial first round of the first-ever Greater Egg Harbor Regional School District round-robin wrestling tournament.

The Pirates took down the third member of the school district just nine days later on Jan. 28 with a 36-21 win against Absegami.

Not bad for a school that didn't exist when its current group of seniors were freshmen.

"That was the biggest match of the year," senior Patt McGinnis said of the school's first-ever match with the Braves. "I put that on my Instagram the first day I saw the schedule. We were all really excited for that one."

McGinnis, a 17-year-old Egg Harbor City resident, wrestled for Absegami his freshman year before having to switch schools and attend Cedar Creek, which opened with just freshmen and sophomores for the 2010-11 school year.

The Pirates wrestled (and lost on criteria) to Oakcrest last season but had never faced Absegami.

"It was tough for me having to wrestle my best friends from freshman year from going to Absegami," McGinnis said.

McGinnis, one of 11 seniors on the team, won a 3-2 decision against Chris Harvey.

Oakcrest has crowned three state champions and had 17 state placewinners to go along with some great teams throughout the years.

Absegami is one of the most storied programs in South Jersey. The Braves have won four State Group IV team titles, had 12 state champions and 49 state placewinners.

Not many expected Cedar Creek to compete with its larger intra-district counterparts so quickly.

"It is awesome," McGinnis said. "It was we're No. 1 in the Greater Egg. I was ecstatic. I don't think I even slept that night."

Fellow team captain Eric Hanusewicz was a regular for Oakcrest as a freshman and knows the significance of a win against Absegami.

The 18-year-old resident of Mullica Township won a 9-3 decision against Absegami's Robert Mears.

"We knew we had to come out and wrestle hard and that we had a shot to win," Hanusewicz said. "It was pretty cool. It was a big accomplishment for our school."

Hanusewicz was a runner-up in District 32 last season. He will be the favorite at 138 pounds in District 32 this season and will look to become the first wrestler in school history to qualify for the state tournament.

"It would be exciting because I could always look back and feel accomplished," Hanusewicz said. "I could look back and say I was the first."

Cedar Creek went 0-19 in its first season but progressed to a 13-11 mark last season. With a tougher schedule this season the Pirates stand at 8-12 but are moving in the right direction.

McGinnis is 18-5 at 126 pounds. Matt Jiampetti is 14-12 at 132 and Hanusewicz 22-4 at 138.

Kyle Murrey (14-8 at 152), Bryan Bellace (17-8 at 160) and Stacey Solomon (16-7 at 170) anchor the middle weights. Tommy Rheault (15-7 at 182) and Ben Keating (15-8 at 220) are senior captains along with McGinnis and Hanusewicz and have been solid up top.

Hanusewicz said he has already been sworn in and will go to Army boot camp in July. McGinnis will wrestle at Baldwin Wallace University.

"It's sad that we are leaving," McGinnis said. "But I'm glad with how we're leaving it in a bright spot for the younger kids to come up."

Contact John O'Kane:


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