Moorestown’s core four leads program to breakout season

Thomas Blanch, John Dalmass, Rober Damerjian and Ronald McCoy played a huge part in lifting the Quakers to a pair of upset wins in the South Jersey Group 4 playoffs.

Junior Ronald McCoy, senior Robert Damerjian, senior John Dalmass and junior Thomas Blanch all played a huge role in lifting Moorestown to its first winning season since 2014. Now, the Quakers’ core four will try to make it to states together.

Moorestown wrestling traveled to Kingsway in 2019 for the first round of the South Jersey Group 4 playoffs. As the No. 8 seed, the Quakers’ run in the postseason was brief, as they lost to the top-seeded Dragons, 56-16.

One year later, Moorestown was back at Kingsway to take on the Dragons in the playoffs again. This time, however, the stakes were different. It was the South Jersey Group 4 championship and the No. 6-seeded Quakers, having upset Central Regional High School and Highland in the previous two rounds, were trying to win their first sectional title in school history.

Moorestown fell short of its ultimate goal, losing the sectional final, 46-19, to the Dragons. But  the Quakers’ run to the championship match signaled the arrival of a new era for the program, an era where Moorestown can no longer be taken lightly.

“I’m very proud of how far we made it this year,” senior John Dalmass said. “My brother (Nate) was a senior when I was a freshman. He didn’t go far at all. Up until this year, we didn’t make it anywhere in the playoffs.”

While Moorestown wasn’t a team recognized in polls as one of the best in South Jersey, internal expectations were high for the Quakers entering the year.  The team returned four wrestlers who had reached regionals the previous year in juniors Thomas Blanch and Ronald McCoy and seniors Dalmass and Robert Damerjian, giving Moorestown a solid core to build around.

“I think we definitely had high expectations,” Blanch said. “We knew we returned a lot of solid guys and we didn’t lose that much talent.”

“Going into the season, I thought our team was stacked,” McCoy added. “We had our injury with Robert and it made me a little skeptical, but seeing how we did the first couple of matches, I believed we could go far.”

Damerjian, Moorestown’s lone state qualifier in 2019, sustained a thumb injury prior to the season. The injury kept him on the sidelines until the second round of the playoffs, where he returned to earn a crucial major decision in the Quakers’ 30-27 upset win over Highland.

“It felt really good,” Damerjian said about his return to the mat. “I’ve been eager to wrestle all year and I’ve been hurt, so it felt good to be back on the mat and help my team win, especially a playoff match against Highland.”

Even with Damerjian out for most of the year, Moorestown showed immense improvement,  with Dalmass, Blanch and McCoy leading the way. All three of them entered the season with the same goal of making it to Atlantic City for the first time after each of them were eliminated early in the 2019 Region 7 tournament.

“We’ve been wrestling together since middle school,” Blanch said. “To have this core be together since we were young basically … I think it’d be cool if we can all go to states together this year.”

McCoy believes the difference for him and his teammates is they all have greater confidence in their abilities this season.

“Last season, I wasn’t that confident,” McCoy said. “This year, I think I have a pretty good chance.”

Damerjian was a finalist in the Region 7 tournament last year and won a match at states. This year, he wants to make it back, but has the added challenge of trying to get back into wrestling shape after missing an extended period of time.

“I’m cramming a lot of work into these few weeks to get ready for districts, regionals and states,” he said. “A lot of other good wrestlers in the state have the whole year on the mat. I could run and work on the bike and stuff, but it’s not the same as wrestling in the room and practicing on the mat.”

“This is my senior year,” Damerjian later added. “I don’t have another year to do it. It’s this or nothing.”