PINE HILL – It was a rainy Monday night and the Paulsboro High School wrestling team went on the road to down Overbrook, 82-0, to improve to 10-0 on the season.
But a decent number of the Red Raider fan base made the trip to honor Paul Morina, who became the third coach in South Jersey history to win 600 matches, trailing only Delran’s Dennis Smith (605 wins) and Highland/Triton’s Ralph Ross (602).
The support is part of what keeps Morina going in his 30th season.
“I know a lot of people came just for that, it’s nice to have the support,” said Morina. “I don’t think anybody on the outside can imagine the type of support I’ve had for 30 years, people behind the scenes who have done things for us to help the program and that’s who this is for.
“It’s what Paulsboro wrestling is built on, we thrive on the backbone of the community and the people who put their heart and soul into this.”
Paulsboro’s wrestling program has never taken the success for granted. When appropriate, they’ve taken the time to celebrate it – when the Red Raiders won their 300th straight Colonial Conference match, when they notched their 1000th win as a program and on Monday when Morina made history.
Assistant Steve Anusewski made a speech after the match and Morina’s three sons – senior wrestlers Sam and Mike and eighth-grader Anthony – held up the numbers 6-0-0.
Paul Morina addressed the crowd and called his assistants on to the mat to be part of the moment.
“The (Paulsboro fans) are very knowledgeable,” said Morina. “For me or the team to ignore those milestones would be disrespectful. I think the program deserves those pats on the back. A lot of people put a lot of time and hard work into it, like my assistant coaches who don’t get a lot of attention.
“We have a tradition and we don’t want to let people down. We wrestle for the people, for the community. It’s not for us because in four years these guys will be gone, so we take a lot of pride in it.”
Many of the Red Raider starters were given the night off, but Sam Morina and Mike Morina both took the mat, recording two of 10 pins on the night.
“It was pretty cool, we saw his 400th and 500th (from the stands) when we were young, it was cool to be a part of it,” said Sam Morina. “It was a good night, good atmosphere. It was fun to wrestle for him, and I’m proud of him.”
Paul Morina noted its not the wins that are important, though acknowledged helping kids achieve region and state titles and team championships is gratifying.
“What resounds the most is what you teach kids is more important than anything,” said Paul Morina. “Kids come out of our program with more than wins and losses, they realize what it’s like to have some pressure in life, to have people rely on you.
“That’s what I get most out of it. Kids leave with a lot more character and a sense of who we are today. When kids win big matches .... They won’t have that later in the life where you wrestle in a match where the gym is packed. I tell them to enjoy this because I want them to have good memories of Paulsboro wrestling. The wins will come.”
Mike – who wrestled JV – echoed the sentiment and said he was glad to be a part of the historical win.
“When I win matches, it’s the best feeling ever,” said Mike Morina. “Wrestling is the best part of your life, it changes your character.
“It should have been important to me to be in there, it would have been weird if I wasn’t. It was a good (night) for my dad."