ATLANTIC CITY - Twenty-seven area wrestlers competed in the state individual wrestling championships at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City this weekend.
Six managed to navigate their way through the three-day tournament and found spots on the podium as New Jersey state placewinners Sunday.
Along with 152-pound state champion Jack Clark of St. Augustine Prep and 113-pound second place finisher Pat D'Arcy of Holy Spirit, Millville's Ed Shockley finished fourth at 195 pounds, Southern Regional's Zach Wilhelm fifth at 145, teammate Gerardo Jorge eighth at 170 and St. Joseph's C.J. LaFragola seventh at 182 pounds.
Shockley continues to make history
Millville's senior 195-pounder entered states with his eyes on a state title after winning his first 36 matches of the season.
But he lost a 4-3 decision to eventual state champ Anthony Cassar of Montgomery in the quarterfinals Saturday.
"This is hard to do, wrestling back after coming off a loss," Shockley said. "You're down on yourself. It's easy to give up in times like that."
But Shockley won three straight decisions in wrestlebacks before losing a 7-3 decision to overall No. 1 seed Matt Correnti of Holy Cross to finish fourth.
"I'm not satisfied with the way I ended things, but most people don't get to say that they finished fourth in the state," Shockley said. "It's an honor."
Shockley was Millville's first state place-winner since Mark Saul won back-to-back state titles in 1995 and 1996.
Shockley passed Saul this season as the school's all-time wins leader.
"I might not have reached my goal of being a state champ," Shockley said. "But placing in states is definitely great."
Southern Regional places two
Wilhelm has been there before and was glad to be back.
Southern's senior leader came out of nowhere to finish eighth in the state as a freshman.
But he was unable to make it back to states until this season, when he won his first Region 6 title.
"It's an incredible feeling," Wilhelm said. "I haven't been back since 2011, so that's three years of hard work, and I'm back now.
"The past two years, I didn't make it out of regions. I was disappointed, but each year I would come back and work harder and harder.
Wilhelm bounced back from a loss to Delbarton's Dan Reed on Sunday morning with a 6-4 decision against Westfield's Matt Barber to finish fifth.
Jorge gave Southern two state place-winners for the first time since 2011, when Kyle Casaletto and Wilhelm each placed.
"It means absolutely everything," Jorge said. "I gave everything I had. I went out there and I wrestled hard."
Jorge won a pair of 4-3 double-overtime decisions Friday night against two seeded wrestlers.
He lost a 3-1 decision to Secaucus' Sean Roesing to finish eighth.
"I went out there and gave it everything I had," Jorge said. "No shame in losing if you leave with your guns empty."
LaFragola plans return trip
St. Joseph's LaFragola and Holy Spirit's D'Arcy (second at 113 pounds) were the area's only non-seniors to make their way onto the podium Sunday.
LaFragola, who was teammates with D'Arcy at Holy Spirit before transferring to St. Joseph, won three straight matches in wrestlebacks to earn his way into the seventh-place match.
The junior 182-pounder took Parsippany Hills' Michael Weiss down 30 seconds into the third period on his way to a 4-3 decision.
"It feels great to place in the state," LaFragola said. "I've been coming here for many years just watching everybody. I never thought I'd be up there with them, but I was able to do it, and it feels great."
LaFragola said he has big plans for next season.
"Gotta be No. 1," he said. "I'm going to try my best."
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