Patrick D’Arcy knew he wanted to do big things when he got to high school. He’d been wrestling his whole life, and had always been fairly successful. He won state championships as a youth wrestler, and wanted to experience the same success when he got to high school.
As a freshman at Holy Spirit in 2012, the Galloway Township native came within one match of reaching the state tournament, finishing fourth in Region 8.
“It was tough last year,” D’Arcy said on Thursday, March 14. “I was disappointed and I didn’t want it to happen again. It made me work harder.”
The wrestler who called himself “undersized for 106 pounds” last year put on size in the form of muscle. He got stronger physically, and as his coach, Ralph Paolone says in this week’s Coach’s Corner, he became stronger mentally.
As a result, D’Arcy finished third in the state at 106 pounds this year.
He won the District 32 title, and made it to the Region 8 final before falling to Clearview’s Zack Firestone, 5-4. In the state tournament, D’Arcy not only avenged that loss, but he avenged another loss from previously in the season.
Over the course of the three-day state tournament in Atlantic City, D’Arcy defeated Hillsborough’s Adam LaBracio, 4-0, and Eastern’s Ferdinand Mase, 3-1, before defeating Firestone, 3-1.
His quest for a state title came to an end with a 3-0 loss to Bergen Catholic’s Nick Suriano. However, he took third place in the state with a 1-0 decision over Jackson Liberty’s Mike Russo. Earlier in the season, he lost to Russo, 4-0.
“I will always remember avenging my two losses and the loss to Suriano lets me know where I have to improve next year to be successful next year,” D’Arcy said. “I’m going to have to improve my speed and strength. Really, I’m going to improve all aspects of my game.”
D’Arcy has been a fixture in Atlantic City at the state wrestling tournament for years, as a fan. His attendance at the 2012 tournament was the most painful for him.
“It was tough to watch the other wrestlers in my weight class because I knew I could’ve been out there,” D’Arcy said. “It’s what I’ve always wanted to do. I always wanted to wrestle at states.”
He had some help along the way turning things around from one season to the next.
D’Arcy began attending Ojeda Sports Performance in Smithville prior to freshman year. In two years, D’Arcy put on 30 pounds of muscle, and improved his footwork and agility.
He’s also worked with his cousin, Bret Vandeveer, who placed in the state tournament and wrestled for the University of Pennsylvania in the early part of the last decade.
“Whenever I was struggling, he would come down and help out,” D’Arcy said. “He placed in states as a sophomore.”
D’Arcy knew that if he worked hard and wrestled well, he would see nothing but good results. That hard work produced a 41-5 record this season, and his first trip to the state tournament in the spotlight as opposed to the stands.
He’s looking for more next year.
“I’m going to go back to Ryan (Ojeda) and keep putting on muscle and increasing my agility,” D’Arcy said. “I’m going to increase my agility, my footwork and my speed.”
He was a young wrestler advancing to the state tournament, but he had plenty of experience, having wrestled since he was in kindergarten. Many of the competitors at the state tournament were wrestlers he’d seen competing in youth tournaments his whole life.
He’s not the youngest wrestler in his weight class, as the top two wrestlers at 106 in the state were both freshmen. He’s also not sure what weight class he’ll be competing in next year.
No matter where he ends up, success is likely to follow.
“Coming into high school, I knew I wanted to do big things,” D’Arcy said. “I’ve been wrestling my whole life. I just work hard and see how far that takes me.”