ATLANTIC CITY - Today won't be the first time Holy Spirit High School's Pat D'Arcy has seen the finals of the state individual wrestling championships at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
It will, however, be the first time D'Arcy will wrestle in them.
The Holy Spirit junior won a 6-3 decision against Hanover Park's Lou Raimo in the quarterfinals and then punched his ticket to today's 113-pound state final with a 3-2 decision against Robbinsville's Christopher Tan in the semifinals.
D'Arcy and St. Augustine Prep's Jack Clark (152 pounds) will each wrestle in today's finals looking to become the first Cape-Atlantic League wrestlers to win a state title since Holy Spirit's Mac Mancuso in 2007.
Southern Regional's Zach Wilhelm (145) and Gerardo Jorge (170), St. Joseph's C.J. LaFragola (182) and Millville's Ed Shockley (195) will also be state placewinners and will wrestle in today's consolations.
"It feels great," D'Arcy said. "But there is still one match left in the season. I'm going to regret it if I don't give everything I've got tomorrow trying to win a state title, so that's what I'm going to do."
D'Arcy will be one of the bigger underdogs in today's state championships, despite moving into the national rankings this week at No. 18 in the country, according to the wrestling website InterMat.
D'Arcy will face Bergen Catholic's Nick Suriano of Bergen Catholic. Suriano is a defending state champion and won the prestigious Beast of the East tournament earlier this season.
He brings a perfect 78-0 career record into today's final and is ranked second in the country at 113 pounds.
Suriano won a decision against D'Arcy in the 106-pound state quarterfinals last season and won an 11-3 major decision at the Beast in December.
But don't expect D'Arcy to simply hand him the title.
"Every time you step on the mat you have to look for the win," D'Arcy said. "It doesn't matter who you are wrestling.
"You have to go out there looking for the win."
Holy Spirit head coach Ralph Paolone said D'Arcy isn't just happy to reach the finals.
"There's not much of a secret there," Paolone said of Suriano. "(Pat) knows him. He knows it's going to be a tough match. He'll go out there, and he'll wrestle hard and it should be a great six minutes."
D'Arcy also has a great mentor in his corner in former Absegami great Mtume Goodrum. Goodrum is one of the best wrestlers in South Jersey history. He never won a state title but reached the state finals on three separate occasions.
Goodrum said D'Arcy can celebrate his accomplishment later. There's more work to do.
"He's the man," Goodrum said. "But we have six more minutes and it's who wrestles the best six minutes.
"He's still got to wrestle. ... Obviously (Suriano is) a tough kid. He's a great kid but you have to wrestle it and see who wins."
Goodrum has become a professional mixed martial arts fighter since his time at Absegami and said D'Arcy has as good a chance as any at dethroning Suriano.
"It's 50-50 as long as (Pat) puts his shoes on and shows up," Goodrum said. "We'll see what happens."
Contact John O’Kane: