ATLANTIC CITY, NJ – Mickey O’Malley has passed just about every challenge he has ever faced. But, the one test that he had not yet to conquered was the New Jersey State Tournament.
Arguably one of the toughest weekends any New Jersey wrestler has to face, O’Malley’s was that much harder, having to beat rival Chris Foca (Bergen Catholic) for the third weekend in a row to win the title.
Like O’Malley has done time and time again, he conquered the beast, beating Foca, 7-2, to win the 170-pound division in the 2018 NJSIAA Individual Wrestling State Championship at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
“I guess you have to be pretty resilient,” O’Malley said about beating Foca again. “Its great stuff. I just keep the same mindset and battle through every rematch.”
After dominating Foca over the past three weeks, beating the Bergen Catholic senior in both the district and region tournaments, O’Malley made relatively easy work of his Crusader opponent in Sunday’s championship bout.
The Hasbrouck Heights senior picked up two early points with a takedown just over 1 minute into the match, setting the tone for what was to come.
Opening the second period on offense, O’Malley rallied for two back points to extend his lead to four less than 30 seconds into the middle frame. When Foca earned a 2-point reversal with 1:23 to go in the second, O’Malley answered the call with an escape followed by a 2-point takedown to put the match out of reach and secure his first NJSIAA title.
Despite having secured a medal in the Cadet Pan Am games last year and being named Most Outstanding Wrestler at the Bergen County Championships, O’Malley said his performance this week, capped by a state title, could take the cake for the best of his career.
“This is definitely up there, probably number one,” O’Malley said comparing the NJSIAA title to all his previous wins. “This has been my goal since I was a freshman, since I was a baby kid. It ranks pretty high. I’ve been to national tournaments, I’ve been all over the country, but nothing really compares to the New Jersey State Tournament. It's a tough tournament.”
O’Malley, along with his fellow Heights wrestler Matt Dallara, took a small, Group 1 school and put it on their back for the weekend..
“We just wrestle hard." O’Malley said. "We’ve been going to the same club, lifting with the same people, training with the same people since we were six or seven years old. We perform.”