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McGrail’s heroics lift Egg Harbor Township wrestling team to record-setting win

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By DAVE O’SULLIVAN Publisher EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Tommy McGrail is an offensive lineman on the Egg Harbor Township football team. Offensive linemen are never the hero. They rarely get their name in the paper or get mobbed by reporters following a big win. After the Eagles’ 36-30 win over visiting Eastern Regional in the opening round of the South Jersey Group 5 playoffs on Monday night, McGrail now knows what it’s like to be a star quarterback. The senior heavyweight, who is in his first year of wrestling and has won just a handful of matches all year, scored a huge first-period pin of Eastern’s Cade Regn that swung momentum the Eagles’ way and propelled Egg Harbor Township to a record-setting victory. McGrail’s pin give EHT the lead for good, 24-22, and the Eagles hung for their 20th victory of the season, most in school history. That topped the 2000-2001 team that won 19 matches, according to head coach Mike Caiazza. “At first I didn’t think we had a chance to win because of all the stuff we had been hearing, how (Eastern) is a great team and we don’t have a hard schedule. But coming into the match, looking at their team and looking at our team, I thought we had the confidence to win,” McGrail said. “It’s great. It’s one of my few wins, I’m a first-year wrestler and I didn’t have a lot of experience coming in. Once I had him down, I knew I could get the pin, and I needed to do that for the team. I can’t compare it to anything I’ve ever been through. I’m ecstatic.” “Unbelievable. he’s just a great all-around kid. He’s a first-year kid and you never want to put pressure on him like that. From the start he said ‘I’m going to go out and pin this kid.’ The senior came through for us,” Caiazza said. “He’s just an awesome kid. He’s been in the school play, he’s a captain of the football team. Just an awesome all-around kid. He wanted to wrestle last year and hurt his knee, so I didn’t think he would come out as a senior. But then he came up to me and said he wanted to do it.” James Bower, bottom, outlasted Eastern's Sal Del Palazzo 13-9 at 170 pounds to score some key points for the Eagles in their win over the Vikings. James Bower, bottom, outlasted Eastern’s Sal Del Palazzo 13-9 at 170 pounds to score some key points for the Eagles in their win over the Vikings. “At first, I was good to go, but in the third period I was out of gas. I was taking him down, but he made me run out of gas and some of the shots I was taking were terrible,” Bower, a senior, said. “The strength (to hang on) came from the whole team and how they wanted me to win and not give up. So I went deep down in my heart and found all the strength I had left.” The night belonged to McGrail, however. The big man stole the show, and had trouble finding words to describe his jubilation afterward. “I heard everyone screaming when I got him down on the mat, and I screamed, too. It was a great experience. I feel good,” McGrail said. “His first year wrestling, after that pin everybody got so excited. Everybody was really happy to see him get a pin in the playoffs,” added Bower. Caiazza said he was nervous heading into the playoffs with a lineup that features eight sophomores, and 30 years of coaching didn’t do much to ease his trepidation. “I was very nervous. If I didn’t get the way I get, I would probably give it up. You need that adrenaline,” Caiazza said of his pre-match jitters. “They are a good bunch of kids and they believe in what we are preaching. They are gelling together as a team, and that’s a nice thing to see. They have a couple more years together to make some special moments for themselves.” Contact Dave O’Sullivan: sully@acglorydays.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays  [adsense]

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