Domenic Augello's biggest strengths are his heart and desire to win. The Timber Creek senior wrestler has a never-give-up attitude.

That's why he has a 24-4 record.

That's why he raised more than a few eyebrows Saturday night by bringing home the Region 8 title at 126 pounds.

"I just like to work hard and get rewarded for what I put in," Augello said. "It's feels good to come out senior year and become a region champ."

Augello entered the regional tournament as the fourth seed. He upset the top-seeded Justin Cariss of Highland in the semifinals with a 4-2 decision.

Augello then seized the regional crown with a 6-2 victory over St. Augustine's Connor Kraus.

"Domenic is the epitome of our program," Timber Creek coach Dave Ritz said. "He's hard-working and tough and physical and confident."

Augello will advance to the state championships beginning on Friday at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

Augello said he always dreamed of making the state championships. Now that it has become a reality, he is ready to go the distance.

"Going to states feels really good," Augello said. "I think I will place in states just because of my hard work. I feel like no one can beat me as long as I go out there and continue to wrestle hard."

Augello lost in the District 31 finals to Highland's Cariss. Ritz said that gave him the motivation and the spark to become regional champion.

"I'm really excited and looking forward to him wrestling in states," Ritz said. "I truly believe he's one of the best kids in the states, and this is an opportunity for him to prove to others how good he really is."

Augello has come a long way since his freshman year when he went 4-20. He said he wants to be remembered as that guy who went from being a sub-par wrestler to a regional champion.

"He's open to constructive criticism," Ritz said. "He understands we have his best interest at heart, and he's willing to do whatever we ask him to do."

Augello is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

"When you get to that level, everyone is a great wrestler," Ritz said of this weekend's state championships. "It's really who believes in themselves the most when things get difficult. He has the ability to keep pushing through, and I think he'll have a lot of success in Atlantic City."