State wrestling tourney: Millville's Ed Shockley dazzles in Atlantic City debut
ATLANTIC CITY - Millville High School's Ed Shockley looked as if he'd been wrestling at Boardwalk Hall his whole life.
But Friday was the first time.
Shockley opened the state individual wrestling championships in style, pinning Hasbrouck Heights' Mauro Altamura in just 54 seconds in a 195-pound preliminary match.
The fifth-seeded junior followed that with a third-period reversal on his way to a 2-0 decision against Region 6 champ and fourth-seeded Mike Oxley of Christian Brothers Academy in the prequarters.
Shockley will wrestle defending state champ Razohnn Gross of Don Bosco Prep in today's quarterfinals.
"My first time here, being able to be in the quarterfinals right now against the defending state champ is the greatest feeling," Shockley said.
Shockley is one of five area wrestlers still in the hunt for a state title, along with Holy Spirit's Pat D'Arcy (106), Buena Regional's Billy Ward, Hammonton's David William (182) and Egg Harbor Township's Nigel Tousssaint (220).
But perhaps the most surprising development of the night came at 285. St. Joseph's Roy Lucas, the overall No. 1 seed in his weight class, forfeited his prequarterfinal match due to illness.
The tournament concludes Sunday with state champions in 14 weight classes.
Shockley and Gross are each solid football players as well as wrestlers.
Gross is ranked 19th in the country, according to InterMat, but will play football at Rutgers next season. Shockley is one of the top linebackers in South Jersey.
"I just have to go out there and wrestle him like he's any other guy," Shockley said. ""I don't really read into that stuff.
"That's how you get psyched out. … My coaches tell me what I need to do. I just go out there and wrestle my match."
D'Arcy won a pair of decisions Friday and will face the top 106-pounder in the country in today's quarters, Bergen Catholic freshman Nick Suriano.
"I know he's one of the toughest in the country, if not the toughest," D'Arcy said. "But I have to go out there and wrestle my match.
"It's a great opportunity. I know he's going to bring his 'A' game and I have to come out ready to go."
D'Arcy, the top bracket No. 6 seed, won a 4-0 decision against Hillsborough's Adam LaBracio in the prelims and followed that up with a 3-1 decision against No. 3 seed Ferdinand Mase of Eastern Regional in the prequarters.
The two-time District 32 champ and Galloway Township native has been coming to states since he can remember.
"It was awesome," D'Arcy said. "I've been coming here for years and I finally got a chance to wrestle here."
Cesar Balmaceda became the first Atlantic City High School wrestler to compete at states since the 1970s and wasn't satisfied with just showing up.
The unseeded senior pinned No. 8 seed and Region 7 runner-up Kenny Long of Holy Cross in the prelims.
"It was an experience that I was looking forward to," Balmaceda said. "I didn't expect to step on the mat and for it to be this big with the crowd, but I got out there and I loved it."
Balmaceda, one of 13 area wrestlers still in wrestlebacks with a chance to finish as high as third, lost a 21-7 decision to East Brunswick two-time state placewinner Jonathan Schleifer (No. 6 in the country).
Balmaceda will wrestle Paramus' Brandon Lopresti in the first round of wrestlebacks.
"Win or lose, this is a great experience for me," Balmaceda said. "But I'm still going to keep fighting (today). The one loss can't bring me down."
St. Joseph's Lucas, ranked 13th in the country at 220, weighed in and warmed up before Friday's match but was forced to pull out with bronchitis and a high fever, St. Joseph coach Joe Henshaw said.
Lucas could not be reached for comment but said via Twitter that he had to drop out because of his asthma.
Henshaw said Lucas was devastated.
"He took a couple shots (in warm-ups) and said, 'I can't do this,' " Henshaw said. "It's a heartbreaker for everyone."
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