Rob Deutsch was calm as he stood, encircled by the press corps, at Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall.
The Eastern senior was just as cool a few minutes earlier on the center wrestling mat, where he won the state title at 119 pounds.
"It's an amazing feeling winning a state title," Deutsch said. "It's probably one of the greatest feelings I've ever had.
"But being out there my fourth time, I kept my composure after my win. It was sort of like another win to me, even though very special."
Deutsch had a special season. He is The Inquirer's South Jersey Wrestler of the Year.
His 7-4 decision over South Plainfield sophomore Troy Heilmann for the championship was his 155th career victory, tying 2010 Paulsboro graduate Joe Duca atop the South Jersey all-time wins list. Furthermore, Deutsch finished the season undefeated, at 42-0, just as Duca did last year.
"I'm really good friends with Duca, so I'm sure I'll be texting him later and telling him that I tied it," Deutsch said.
"I always wanted to go undefeated. Starting with the Beast of the East [a national-caliber tournament in Newark, Del.] was a great start for me, and as I continued throughout the season, I was looking forward to [going undefeated]."
Deutsch's career record is actually slightly better than that of Duca, a 125-pounder who finished 155-14. Deutsch ended at 155-12.
When he won the District 26 and Region 7 crowns this season, he became one of 10 South Jersey wrestlers to win four district and region titles. Ranked second in the nation by InterMat, Deutsch has a goal to become a national champion at Old Dominion University, with which he signed in November.
Before districts, he said he didn't want to be caught up in any close calls.
"I'm hoping to expand, put more points on the board so no one is close to me," Deutsch said. "I want to dominate my weight class."
And he did, for the most part.
After he won a pre-quarterfinal match at states with a 5-3 decision over Delbarton sophomore Nick Anderson, Deutsch decisioned Cranford senior Joe Glaccio, 12-2, and Buena sophomore Billy Ward, 8-3.
"I have three more to go," he declared confidently after the first win.
His confidence was buoyed by his comfort level at his weight. He could have moved up to 125; however, he stayed at 119.
"He's bigger for the weight this year," Eastern coach Bob Stinson said. "Last year, he wrestled at 119 and could have gone to 112. This year, he stayed at 119 and he is absolutely stronger."
Evidence of that fact is that throughout the state tournament, Deutsch wasn't taken down once. Meanwhile, he registered 13 takedowns in four bouts.
Last year at the state individual competition, Deutsch finished a disappointing third after he won a 3-1 decision over Don Bosco Prep's Joe Orecchio. It was a trying year for the team, which was working under its second head coach in two years.
His sophomore year, though, Deutsch won the state trophy at 112.
"The first state title, I don't think I can top that," Deutsch said. "This year, it's an awesome feeling, no matter what.
"I really wanted to make sure that I got it done and I got that 'W.' "
That "W" put an exclamation point on a special season.