Ralph Paolone has a small collection of Pat D'Arcy pictures hanging in his wrestling gym.

The Holy Spirit coach has photos of D'Arcy on the podium after four District 32 titles, two Region 8 championships, and two top-three finishes in the state tournament.

One of the few items that was missing, however, is a picture of D'Arcy smiling.

So, it was understandable that Paolone, a lawyer, didn't get much work done Tuesday. He had to print out and prepare his missing masterpiece.

D'Arcy, a senior, finished third in the state as a sophomore and second as a junior. When he finally got his title this year by winning the 126-pound crown at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on Sunday, he didn't hold back.

"I don't think I've ever seen him smile ever after a wrestling match until the state final," Paolone said. "Then you just see everything coming out, and it's so special . . . I don't know if I've ever experienced the joy that I felt at a sporting event than when Pat won the title. The elation you have that all Pat's hard work paid off, the joy and happiness for him."

D'Arcy, The Inquirer's South Jersey wrestler of the year, put in the work to have that moment. He spent the season practicing twice a day for five days a week. In the state tournament, he watched enough videos on Flowrestling.com and YouTube to have a good knowledge of his opponents.

He knew that Haddon Township's Jason Groff was strong, but that he could cut him and get takedowns, which he did three times.

He knew Nutley's Joe Ferinde frequently went for outside single-leg takedowns, and always went right. He knew Ryan Pomrinca from North Hunterdon was tough when he got on top.

And finally, he knew that the two-time defending champion, Hanover Park's Anthony Cefolo, was a big judo wrestler who used an excellent underhook.

"This season I was working extra hard," D'Arcy said. "I was motivated from last season, finishing second. It never feels good to lose. It adds a little extra motivation. I never want to have that feeling again. I trained hard, put in the time twice a day, watched the film of my opponents, and I just felt prepared."

D'Arcy has a 3.7 grade-point average and will wrestle at Princeton next year. His intellect helped him on the mat as it does off it.

"There's no question he's a very intelligent kid and a very intelligent wrestler," Paolone said. "He's very rarely, if ever, out of position in a match . . . He's rarely scored on."

Paolone doesn't recall D'Arcy's giving up an offensive point in districts, regions, or states aside from when he cut his opponents loose.

The state title culminated a stellar career for D'Arcy. He went 38-2 as a senior at 126 pounds and finished with 156 high school wins. But he didn't accomplish his goal until his last match.

"Since day one, the goal was always to win a state championship," D'Arcy said. "To have that finally come true, that's what it's all about. It's what I've been training for my whole career. I had to let a smile out at the end of that match."

@NickJCarroll