Debbie Andriani had sat in the same place in the bleachers at West Orange High, rooting for her son, Patrick, a captain and heavyweight wrestler at Passaic Valley High, compete at the Region 4 championships.
When Patrick lost his second wrestleback, 2-1, to end his season, the proud mother appeared stunned, with tears welling in her eyes. Debbie’s youngest son is a senior, so this, in essence, was probably his last wrestling match.
It’s the story of the final day of the Regions, when a long season begins to wind down and wrestlers just miss a chance to compete in Atlantic City.
Leah Dumphy knows her friend’s pain. Her son, Tommy, is still eliglble to compete at the states, but he needed to win his final wrestleback. She sits and waits.
For the wrestlers and fans, the final two rounds of wrestlebacks are exciting, yet nerve racking. All that hard work comes down to this day, with so many slots available and too many kids wanting the chance.
When the consolation round finals commence, the crowd regains momentum and the excitement is evident when a young man punches that proverbial ticket to AC. Many will say that the third place bouts are more intesne than the 14 championship bouts which will follow. Those in the finals are assured a berth at the states. The consolation finals are different. You win, you’re in. You lose, and that’s the end of the season and possibly the end of their wrestling careers.
So, with thata said, there’s a break in the action. The consolation finals begin at 1;30 p.m. Leah Dunphy will have to wait a little longer.