Dylan Palacio captured a FILA Juniors National championship on Saturday at 74 kg (163 pounds) after collecting five victories in Las Vegas, including a three period win in the title bout against Matthew Gray of Bison Wrestling Club.
Joining him on the medal stand were three additional grapplers from the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club – Mark Grey (4th at 60 kg), Brian Realbuto (6th at 74 kg) and Gabe Dean (8th at 84 kg).
Also representing the Empire State with a medal was Blue and Gold Wrestling Club’s Jamel Hudson, who earned sixth place at 66 kg.
Palacio’s title run opened with a pair of pins before he took out returning placer Isaac Jordan of the Badger Wrestling Club 5-2, 6-1. In the semifinals against Hawkeye Wrestling Club’s Patrick Rhoads, he dropped the opening period 3-0 but rebounded to grab the second 3-1, fueled by some early pushouts. In the third, he fell behind again but came back to win 6-3 and punch his ticket to the finals.
In that first place contest, Palacio lost the first stanza 3-0, and gave up a takedown early in the second to fall behind. However, the former Section 8 standout took over from there, tying it up with about 1:30 left. He then tiptoed the line to avoid a late pushout by Gray to win the stanza 1-1 (by virtue of scoring last).
In the decisive final period, Palacio moved ahead with a takedown and tacked on two points for exposure to grab a 3-0 advantage. Gray responded with a pushout to make it 3-1, but the Long Beach native shot a single leg and drove his opponent out of bounds to take a 4-1 lead with about 40 seconds to go. A late takedown made the final score closer, but Palacio got his hand raised and a national title.
His future Cornell teammates Grey and Dean earned their spots on the podium the hard way, as both lost in the opening round before going on long winning streaks during the day.
In a back-and-forth match with a lot of scoring, Grey began the tournament with a loss to eventual champion Ben Whitford of Michigan. However, he bounced back with a technical fall over Jake Marr, followed by six more victories to earn his spot in the third place bout, where he was defeated by Zane Richards. Along the way, he notched a number of impressive wins, including a 6-1, 6-0 decision over highly regarded Cory Clark of the Hawkeye Wrestling Club.
Meanwhile, Dean also faced a high placer in Round 1 – Sam Brooks of the Hawkeye Wrestling Club (4th). After that tilt, Dean captured five in a row, including four in straight periods, to get onto the medal stand at 84 kg (185 pounds).
Realbuto opened with a win over Patriot Elite’s Ryan Forrest before dropping a decision to Micah Barnes of NWTC. The Section 1 native then went on winning streak, picking up four consecutive victories on his way to sixth place.
In 2012, both Palacio and Realbuto were New York State champions as seniors in high school. The same was true of Jamel Hudson, who redshirted for Hofstra this year.
Hudson also stood out in Nevada on Saturday, grabbing sixth at 66 kg (145.5 pounds). The former St. Anthony’s grappler began with a technical fall before falling to eventual champion Jason Tsirtsis. However, he went on a tear in the consolations, winning six in a row and not yielding a single point in four of those matches.
FILA Junior Freestyle Placers (Saturday)
60 kg: Mark Grey (Finger Lakes Wrestling Club) – 4th
66 kg: Jamel Hudson (Blue and Gold Wrestling Club) – 6th
74 kg: Dylan Palacio (Finger Lakes Wrestling Club) – 1st
74 kg: Brian Realbuto (Finger Lakes Wrestling Club) – 6th
84 kg: Gabe Dean (Finger Lakes Wrestling Club) – 8th
In Friday’s FILA Junior Greco competition, Columbia University had several representatives on the podium as Connor Sutton, Chris Loew and Matthew Idelson all placed in the top six. Also making their presence felt were Cheektowoga’s Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, who was fifth at 63 kg and former Section 4 wrestler Jessy Williams, who notched 6th.
FILA Junior Greco Placers (Friday)
60 kg: Jessy Williams (NYAC/USOEC, Windsor) – 6th Place
63 kg: Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer (Buffalo Grapplers, Cheektowoga) – 5th Place
70 kg: Connor Sutton (NYAC Harlem, Columbia) – 4th Place
84 kg: Chris Loew (NYAC Harlem, Columbia) – 6th Place
96 kg: Matthew Idelson (NYAC Harlem, Columbia) – 5th Place