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Senior Tommy McGrail defined the word ‘leadership’ during his Egg Harbor Township athletic career

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By NICK KOSKO Correspondent There certainly are a lot of unique athletes who walk the halls of Egg Harbor Township High School. Senior Tommy McGrail is no exception. While accumulating numerous varsity letters playing three sports during his four years, McGrail also pursued his love of performing on stage while also balancing his school work and getting ready for college. There was nothing the big man couldn’t handle. For McGrail, it was all about his passion and love for sports that enabled him to have an amazing senior season to cap off his high school athletics career. From the football field to the wrestling mat to the track, McGrail took on the role of a great leader, especially knowing he would never be able to don the black and silver again after graduation. “It was a good ending to all four years and I had a lot of fun, which is what I took pride in the most. We had a great senior offensive line, I finally was able to wrestle and I competed in the CAL track and field meet for the first time,” McGrail said. “Becoming a leader was a pretty big change for me. I missed the last half of football with an injury my junior year and I wasn’t able to start wrestling then as well. So this year, I worked extra hard — which included staying after practice a lot, especially for football because I wanted the extra work and I wanted to set an example for the younger guys. There was no time to mess around.” McGrail is known for his play on the football field, and coming off an injury that caused him to miss the last half of his junior season he showed perseverance, dedication and leadership on and off the field to start the entire season under first-year head coach Kevin Stetser. “We expected a lot out of Tom and we get a lot — and then some. We wanted him to be one of the kids that set the tone for the program,” Stetser said. “He was a big help to me being that I was going into my first year as head coach. He really helped set up the type of program we wanted and he is definitely a prime example of what we want from all of our players.” The icing on the cake for McGrail was being a part of EHT’s first Thanksgiving victory over rival Mainland for the first time since 2009. Tommy McGrail, who wasn't able to wrestle until his senior year due to injuries, came up with a huge win that helped seal an Eagles payoff victory over Eastern Regional. (Glory Days Magazine photos/Dave O'Sullivan) Tommy McGrail, who wasn’t able to wrestle until his senior year due to injuries, came up with a huge win that helped seal an Eagles payoff victory over Eastern Regional. (Glory Days Magazine photos/Dave O’Sullivan) “That was such a great feeling, especially to do it on the road. We had the town come out and support us in an away game and in the three years I played before, we were never able to beat them, so it ended up being the perfect ending to the season,” McGrail said. “I always joke with him that he had to literally tape body parts together to cover up the injuries he sustained during the year for that game. He refused to not play and he was a big part of our win over Mainland,” Stetser said. McGrail stepped onto the wrestling mat for the first time in his life back in the winter. Although he came in as an inexperienced wrestler and didn’t showcase any flashy technique, McGrail made a bigger impact for a record-setting Eagles wrestling team than he ever could imagine. “Tom is an amazing kid. He took a laid-back and care-free attitude. He knew it wasn’t going to be a stellar year for himself, but he knew he could help out the team in multiple ways, such as saving the team points by not getting pinned or even gaining points by simply out-wrestling the other kid,” wrestling coach Mike Caiazza said. “I really wish we were able to have him for four years instead of one. When you coach wrestling, you really get close with the kids. I am so happy I got to meet him and really get to know him.” Considering he didn’t win many matches, a lot of people did not expect McGrail to be the key reason why the Eagles won their opening playoff match against Eastern in the South Group 4 playoffs. An unexpected win from McGrail was the difference as the Eagles escaped with a narrow victory. “Joining and staying on the team was definitely a dedication type of thing. I really wanted to do it junior year but couldn’t due to injury, so I decided to keep my word to Caiazza. And I felt like I was really able to help the team a lot,” McGrail said. Finishing up his senior year by throwing for the track and field team, McGrail said his biggest goals were to become a solid leader for the team and to be able to compete in the Cape-Atlantic League championships. He accomplished both. “I embraced the leadership role and that was what I focused on during the season. I also practiced long and hard enough in order to get better during the season, and I got to throw in the CALs, which is what I set my mind to do,” McGrail said. “We wanted him to be a scorer for us and he had a pretty good year. He had to do a little extra work with his technique, but he would stay after hours even after he was done practicing for the school play he was in. It was total dedication and that was awesome to see,” said Stetser, who also coaches the throwers on the track team. Not only did McGrail compete in three sports, he found time to perform as Shrek in EHT’s “Shrek: The Musical” and also competed in other singing and talent competitions in school such as “Mr. EHT” and “EHT Idol.” He said he plans to stay busy when he attends York College in Pennsylvania this fall. “I am going to double major in computer science and mathematics with a minor in music. I also plan on doing track in school by throwing shot put and doing the hammer throw, and I’m not ruling out joining the club rugby team as well,” McGrail said. “It really doesn’t get much more exciting than this.” [adsense]

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Video of the day

VIDEO OF THE DAY

Glory Days Magazine staff writer Nick Kosko interviews Egg Harbor Township assistant wrestling coach…