Brandon Dominguez's favorite wrestling team had a heck of weekend.
Wrestling for themselves and a teammate's brother fighting brain cancer, the South Brunswick High School wrestling team won the District 20 Tournament, which it hosted, this past weekend.
"It was very emotional," South Brunswick Coach Joe Dougherty said. "They have been preparing for this tournament the entire season, so it was going to be emotional. Then when you add in what happened with David Dominguez's brother . . . It was really emotional."
To honor Brandon Dominguez, the members of South Brunswick's wrestling team dyed their hair red, the 8-year-old's favorite color. The team also honored Brandon by raising money to help with his medical expenses and giving their best effort on the mat.
All things considered, it was not the weekend someone would want to go up against David Dominguez. The 135-pounder won the District 20 championship with a 7-0 win over Old Bridge's Aecheria Pedrosa in the title match.
After winning the title, David ran over and gave his brother a big hug.
"It was not only a really emotional moment for the two of them, it was touching for everyone that witnessed it," Dougherty said.
"David came in with a single focus. After he placed fifth in the county, he looked me in the eyes and told me, 'coach, I'm winning districts.' I told him, 'good for you.' He went out this weekend and did great."
Dominguez was one of four individual champions for South Brunswick, which won its first district team title since 2000. South Brunswick finished with 189.5, putting it ahead of second-place Old Bridge's 176 points.
"We went head to head with Old Bridge three times in the finals and won all of the matches," Dougherty said. "That was the difference."
Much like Dominguez, Tyler Jaramillo (152) and Ali Yildiz weren't really even challenged in the title match.
Jaramillo defeated Old Bridge's Shane Raymond by a technical fall of 18-3.
"Tyler has been wrestling lights out this past month," Dougherty said. "Wrestling is probably 10 percent physical and 90 percent mental. Right now, Tyler is just so confident."
Yildiz defeated Old Bridge's Vincent Ross by a technical fall of 17-1.
"Ali wrestled a great tournament," Dougherty said. "No one took him down the entire tournament."
Lucus DelPiano defeated East Brunswick's Julian Quintin, 3-1, to win the title at 189 pounds. Quintin was the Greater Middlesex Conference champion and had also defeated DelPiano in a regular season match.
"He (DelPiano) won with a takedown in the final secomds," Dougherty noted. "He's lost four matches by a point or in overtime. He finally won a close one. He deserved it. The 189-pound weight class is a very competitive one in our area."
South Brunswick had eight wrestlers in the finals. Jordan Pagano was edged by Sayreville's Gary Siriday, 3-2, in the 112-pound final. This came after the referees had a brief discussion and decided to remove points they had given Pagano for a late takedown.
Jake Pietrefesa also lost a 3-2 decision in the 160-pound final.
"Jordan and Jake both had opportunities," Dougherty said. "With every loss, you learn something. You have to find a way to get that takedown when you need it. Hopefully, they'll get it next time."
As champions, Dominguez, Jaramillo, Yildiz and DelPiano all earned a spot in the Region 5 quarterfinals at Hunterdon Central on Friday night. The second- and third-place finishers all need a win in a qualifying match on Feb. 22, also at Hunterdon Central.
James Pagano 145) and Tommy Dorsay (125) both placed second and will also wrestle in the qualifying round. Justin Lopez (119) and Constantine Rissiotis (140) placed fourth in their weight classes, a spot away from advancing.
"The kids did great," Dougherty said.
Dougherty was so taken by how well his guys wrestled and their concern for Brandon Dominguez that he even agreed to sport a new hair color.
"I won't go back on my word," Dougherty said. "If they want me to, I'll do it. Hopefully, they'll realize that an old man like me wouldn't look good in red hair (laughs)."
Actually, red hair isn't a bad look around South Brunswick High. It's the way winning -- and caring -- young men look.