There are fast walks on the greasy pole, and then there is Frank Taormina's walk at the end of the second round of Friday's competition off of Pavilion beach.
The 27-year-old, walking the pole for the fourth time, took fast to a new level as he basically sprinted to the end of the 40-foot greased telephone pole to capture his first flag, which was something he has dreamed about since he was a little kid hanging out at Pavilion Beach.
"I had a dream as a little kid that I would win one day," Taormina said. "My grandmother would always take me to Pavilion Beach and I would gaze out at the pole all day long. Years and years of dreaming of this moment has finally come true, it's a great feeling."
If you blinked, you may have missed Taormina's championship walk.
The 46th of 47 walkers on the Friday roster, he came flying out of the gates and flawlessly made it through the first three quarters of the pole, which was basically free of grease from the other 92 attempts. Less than 10 feet from the flag, Taormina went into a dive, and he was moving so fast that his momentum carried him through to the flag and into the water after the 26-foot drop at low tide.
"I like a medium to quick walk and I just tried to get out of the gate clean," the 2018 Friday champ said. "I knew if I made it three quarters of the way, I could track through the rest of the grease. I had a great start and built enough momentum to become a greasy pole champion."
After the courtesy round, the second round, which is the first round where the flag can be taken down, featured a slew of close calls and impressive walks.
Frank Neal, Cam Decoste and Brendan Chipperini set the tone of the walk by making it more than two-thirds of the way to the end, taking off every piece of grease up to that point on the pole.
That set the stage for Mike Forgette, Mike Emery, Leo DiMercurio, Gabe Castiello, Drew Aiello and Santo Parisi to get to the three-quarter mark.
Dakota Zappa had the best walk outside of the championship walk as he was just a few feet short of a victory in the middle of the second round, losing his balance at the last second on the final patch of grease sitting on the edge of the pole.
That set the stage for Taormina, who knew it was now or never as the odds of 47 more walkers failing to snatch the flag were slim to none.
"I just knew that if I got the chance at the end of the second, I had to take it," he said. "There wasn't much grease left and there were a lot of good walks. That was my only chance."
Taormina took full advantage of his chance to become the 20th winner of the Friday Greasy Pole competition, which debuted in 1999.
The Friday champ will now walk first in Saturday's competition right back at Pavilion Beach. Saturday's festivities kick off with the Men's Seine Boat qualifying race (4:45 p.m.), followed by the second of three Greasy Pole competitions on the weekend.