EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP - Dom LaFragola's win in the final match of the night made for a great photo opportunity Thursday.
The Holy Spirit senior heavyweight jokingly picked up freshman teammate Pat D'Arcy and cradled him in the air as family and friends took pictures following the Arthur Marinelli Varsity Wrestling Tournament at Egg Harbor Township High School.
D'Arcy won the 106-pound title, the tournament's smallest weight class. LaFragola won at 285, the biggest.
D'Arcy weighed in at 99.6 pounds Thursday. LaFragola tipped the scales at 270, nearly three times the size of his teammate. The size difference doesn't make the duo great wrestling partners in the school's practice room.
"We roll around every now and again," LaFragola said, tongue firmly planted in cheek. "We keep each other in shape. He's nimble and I'm strong."
D'Arcy, LaFragola and Pinelands Regional's Joe Rodano (138) were the only locals to win titles Thursday. LaFragola missed all of last season with an injury but improved to 7-1 this year with three wins Thursday. He pinned West Deptford's David Branco in 2 minutes, 23 seconds in the final.
"It feels really good," LaFragola said. "You can build off it and gain confidence."
LaFragola's only loss came in a season-opening loss to District 29 runner-up Tom Rementer of Clayton. The two were locked in a tight match before Rementer was able to take LaFragola down in the second
"I've been building off wins from Day 1," LaFragola said. "That kind of made me realize that I can hang with anyone in the state."
D'Arcy improved to 8-0 with four wins Thursday.
D'Arcy had an impressive youth career and has the talent to be one of the top freshmen in the state despite being undersized at his weight. His 6-0 decision against West Deptford's Griffin Bonner in the semifinals was the first time all season he won by less than a major decision.
D'Arcy's first true test this season came in the finals against Egg Harbor Township senior Joe Rocks, who was a District 32 placewinner last season. The two traded escape points in regulation and headed to overtime tied at 1-1. Neither was able to score in the first one-minute overtime period or either of the 30-second double-overtime periods.
They then went to a triple-overtime rideout. The two had a pair of solid scrambles, but D'Arcy was able to ride Rocks out for the win.
"I was just hanging on for dear life," D'Arcy said. "That's all you can do."
D'Arcy admitted he couldn't match Rocks' strength.
"I just have to use my speed and technique because I'm not going to be able to outmuscle somebody like that," D'Arcy said. "I have to use my speed and technique and do whatever it takes to win."
Rodano, of Pinelands, won an exciting match for the 138 title against EHT's Jason Cohen. Rodano jumped out to a 7-2 lead after two periods behind three takedowns. Cohen came back at the end, but Rodano was able to hold on for an 11-9 decision.
"It's definitely nice to have this under my belt," Rodano said. "I was really opening up on my shots."
The junior didn't waste much time enjoying his title. Rodano knows it isn't even January yet, but he already has his eyes on the end of the season and the state tournament.
"I want to hopefully make it to states," Rodano said. "I've got to work on my cardio and I've got to work on the mat."
West Deptford won the team title with Clearview in second. Lower Cape May Regional had four second-place finishes en route to a third-place team finish.
Zach Valcarce (113), Tyler Sole (152), Frank Zeigler (170) and Cory Damiana (195) all lost in the finals. EHT's Gabe Zamot (120), Oakcrest's Antonio Mancella (145) and Vineland's Steffen Rodriguez (182) also finished in second.
LaFragola joked that his singlet was key to his victory. He was wearing the same throwback singlet that Mac Mancuso wore for Holy Spirit in 2007 during his run to a state title. LaFragola assured everyone that the singlet has since been washed.
"It was the sharp singlet," he said. "It has magical sweat."
Contact John O'Kane:
1. West Deptford 153; 2. Clearview Regional 143; 3. Lower Cape May 131; 4. Egg Harbor Township 120; 5. Lenape 93.50; 6. Neptune 91; 7. Holy Spirit 88; 8. Pinelands Regional 86.50; 9. Vineland 84; 10. Schalick 83; 11. Williamstown 82; 12. Oakcrest 77; 13. Kingsway Regional 66; 14. Ocean City 27.50.
106-Pat D'Arcy, Holy Spirit d. Joe Rocks, EHT 2-1 (3OT); 113-Anthony Racobaldo, Williamstown d. Zach Valcarce, Lower Cape May 5-2 (2OT); 120-Evan Zuzulock, West Deptford d. Gabe Zamot, EHT 3-2; 126-John VanBrill, Clearview Regional d. Newt Richardson, Schalick 2-0; 132-Rob Wittman, Clearview Regional d. Danny Kennedy, Lenape; 138-Joe Rodano, Pinelands Regional d. Jason Cohen, EHT 11-9; 145-Ed Lenkowski, Clearview Regional d. Antonio Mancella, Oakcrest 8-4; 152--George Skibinski, Clearview Regional md. Tyler Sole, Lower Cape May 11-3; 160-Connor Donahue, Clearview Regional d. Zach Rahl, Schalick 5-2; 170-Dae'Sean Brown, Neptune d. Frank Zeigler, Lower Cape May 5-4; 182-Rory Bonner, West Deptford d. Steffen Rodriguez, Vineland; 195-Chris Lail, Kingsway Regional d. Cory Damiana, Lower Cape May 7-4; 220-Nick Pustizzi, Schalick p. Gerald Owens, West Deptford 2:27; 285-Dom LaFragola, Holy Spirit p. David Branco, West Deptford 2:23.