Cornell's Mark Grey Earns Second Trip to Junior World Championships … And More from the Junior World Team Trials

Mark Grey represented the United States at the Junior World Championships in 2011, taking fifth at 55 kg. After his stellar performance in Stillwater, Oklahoma on Sunday, he’ll once again aim for a Junior World title as he earned the 60 kg spot on Team USA with a perfect day in a loaded field.

Grey began with an 8-3 decision over Earl Hall, a 2012 World Team member who spent the last year at the Olympic Training Center. He followed with a hard fought 6-4 triumph over former Blair Academy teammate Joey McKenna, the eventual third place finisher.


That put Grey into the best-of-three championship series against Zane Richards of Illinois. At the recent FILA Junior Nationals in Las Vegas in the spring, the two grapplers met for bronze, with Richards coming away with a 2-0, 5-1 victory.

Grey turned the tables on Sunday, capturing the opening bout 5-4. In the second contest, Richards got off to a strong start, but Grey rebounded to win 6-4 and punch his ticket to Bulgaria, where the World championships will be held in August.

Grey will be a freshman at Cornell in the fall, as will three other wrestlers who placed at the event, including a pair at 74 kg/163 pounds.

Dylan Palacio went directly to the championship series after his FILA Junior National crown in Las Vegas. He faced Alex Dieringer of Oklahoma State, who took third at the NCAAs in March. On Sunday, the Cowboy defeated Palacio in two matches to take the World Team slot.

In order to get to the championship series against Palacio, Dieringer squared off with another future Big Red wrestler in the title bout of the Challenge Tournament – Brian Realbuto. Realbuto had a strong showing with a 4-1 record. He started with a 7-0 win over McCoy Newburg and followed with a 6-4 decision over Yoanse Mejias. He then came out on top of two high scoring affairs, a 20-13 triumph over Dylan Reel and a 15-10 victory over Isaiah Martinez.

Another Cornellian, Gabe Dean, dropped his opener at 84 kg/185 pounds, but bounced back with three consecutive wins, by a combined score of 24-4, to get to the bronze bout before taking fourth in the Challenge Tournament.

Those weren’t the only Ivy Leaguers to have success on Sunday. Columbia recruit Garrett Ryan notched second in the 120 kg Challenge bracket after defeating the second seed, Brooks Black, 8-6 in the semifinals.

On the Greco side, a pair of New Yorkers took third place in the Challenge event. Jessy Williams, a Section 4 native, grabbed bronze at 60 kg, while Warsaw state champion Burke Paddock did the same at 74 kg. Paddock came back from a first round loss to score 22 points in his consolation matches on his way to third.

Hofstra’s Jamel Hudson recorded two technical falls at 60 kg in freestyle during a 2-2 day in which both setbacks came against third placer Joey McKenna.

For full results, see here.


'Back from Hiatus': Dylan Palacio Rebounds from Injuries to Win National Title

In the third period of his 74 kg (163 pound) semifinals match at the FILA Junior Freestyle National Championships, Dylan Palacio fell behind 3-1 against Patrick Rhodes of the Hawkeye Wrestling Club. And he heard a voice screaming out of the Iowa corner.

“Tom Brands was yelling to his guy talking about me, saying, ‘he’s broke, he’s broke,’” Palacio said. “It was gut check time. I just went after it. You can’t believe for a second that you’ll lose.”

Photo by BV

Palacio started to rack up points, including a takedown with just a few seconds left to seal a 6-3 win in the final stanza and a trip to the title bout.

“After the match, I shook [Brands’s] hand and said, ‘I don’t ever break,’” Palacio recalled.

He certainly didn’t over the weekend.

In the championship, Palacio was matched up against Bison Wrestling Club’s Matthew Gray, in a rematch of the 160 pound third place bout at the Junior National Freestyle Championships last summer in North Dakota. Gray won that one in straight periods.

“He worked me last year at Fargo. He beat me up,” Palacio said.

Gray began strong again, taking the first period by a 3-0 score. But Palacio said he felt this time would be different.

“I wasn’t worried, I had a big smile on my face,” he said. “I knew who he was and was actually okay with my first period because I was feeling him out and figuring out what I needed to do the rest of the match. I knew I could make the adjustments – heavy on the head, more attacks, especially single legs. It paid off.”

In the middle stanza, Gray struck first with a takedown, but Palacio tied it up with about 1:30 left, to take the 1-1 “lead”. Gray came at Palacio with a significant charge, looking to move ahead with a pushout, however the former Long Beach star somehow found a way to stay in bounds to win the period.

“It was like a 360 tiptoe move,” Palacio said. “That’s just all heart right there. I think in retrospect, that’s why I won. Not giving up and circling on that line. He used all his energy for the push and in a way, that was the match.”

Palacio used a takedown and a two-point exposure to go ahead 3-0 in the third and when time expired, he had a 4-2 victory and a national title.

It was a stark contrast to where the former Section 8 standout was in February.

“It’s crazy,” he said. “Not that long ago, I was on a medical table at Edinboro with a torn MCL. I was hurt a lot this year and I was feeling frustrated and skeptical about my future. I won’t forget the people who encouraged me and believed, because without them, I wouldn’t be here right now.”

Palacio acknowledged that his run over the weekend may be a surprise to some, because of the limited tournament action he saw with the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club over the past year. (He said he took part in less than 10 official bouts).  But he added that people didn’t know what he was doing behind the scenes.

“You don’t need to wrestle 100 matches to get better,” he said. “I may not have wrestled a lot of matches, but I was lifting and improving a lot in practice. And I was wrestling the way I wanted to – calm, not crazy, not sloppy. I was moving well, working my scores. And now I’m healthier. I’m back from hiatus.”

He’s back for a lot of reasons, but he pointed to some people he said were essential.

“I hit the lottery having Cam Simaz and Frankie Perrelli in my corner,” he said of his coaches at the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club. “They complement each other so well as and they helped me go in the right direction. I didn’t really know how to wrestle when I got to Ithaca, I hadn’t lifted weights, there were a lot of things I didn’t know. But they saw the potential and never gave up on me.”

So immediately after his hand was raised on Saturday, Palacio said he ran off the mat and hugged Perrelli and Simaz and the other supporters in attendance. And he pointed up at the sky to acknowledge another inspiration.

“It was my best friend’s birthday about a week ago,” he said. “He passed away a few years ago. I believe he watches over me and I won this for him. The plaque I won is his birthday present. I’ll bring it to his memorial when I get home.”

There are lots of things for Palacio to do when he gets back to the East Coast. He said he knows he has a lot to learn from his coaches. And he said he “can always learn something from Kyle [Dake]– whether it’s lifting, running, drilling or just how to act. I’m willing to admit that’s who I want to be like.”

The Long Island native said he can’t wait to start his freshman year at Cornell and has visualized being announced as a starter for the Big Red at the Friedman Center for the first time. (He has his entrance song all picked out).

While there’s still plenty to demonstrate before getting to that point, Palacio feels like he’s now on his way.

“From where I was a month ago to now — things can change so quickly,” he said. “It feels so good to be a national champion but I’ll keep going. The goal is to be an NCAA champ. This is just a stepping stone.”

Palacio Captures the Championship; Grey, Realbuto, Hudson and Dean All Place at the FILA Junior Freestyle Nationals

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, Photo by BV

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

"Olympic Level Good": Friends Remember Jeff Blatnick

National Wrestling Hall of Fame member and Olympic Gold Medalist Jeff Blatnick’s passing was a shock to the wrestling community.  It’s a story that has been covered by both the wrestling and mainstream media as many have articulated his numerous and signficant accomplishments both on and off the mat.

For some additional perspectives, New York Wrestling News asked a few people who knew Jeff Blatnick to provide reflections on the impact he had on their lives.  We’ll let them tell more of the story of Jeff Blatnick.


Kyle Dake, Three-time NCAA Champion at Cornell

“When I first met Coach Blatnick, I found out pretty quickly that he was one of the friendliest and most incredible people to be around.  What I really remember is how he was full of wisdom.  I always took to heart what he said, whether it was about wrestling or life in general because it was always wise.

He called me “The Ferret” because when we first met I was a 98-pound freshman who was all over the place with so much energy.  As I got bigger, he tried to think of another nickname, but Ferret stuck.  The years I wrestled at Fargo, Coach Blatnick was there.  He was my second coach with Scott Green.  I always had complete trust in him.  I always felt good when he was in my corner because he was a commanding presence who was so knowledgeable about the sport.

After my freshman year in college I went to Fargo to be a team coach and I got to spend time with him. Not as a wrestler and a coach, but as a friend. We had some great conversations about wrestling and life and it was a really special time that I’ll never forget. We had a relationship where we were really strongly connected even though we didn’t see each other that much. I’m still in disbelief that he’s gone.  I appreciated him and looked up to him so much as a person.”


Nick Gwiazdowski, NCAA All-American (now at North Carolina State)

“In eighth grade when I started Freestyle and Greco, Jeff Blatnick started coaching me.  The thing he helped me with the most was my approach to wrestling.  Wrestling is such an exciting sport and it’s easy to get really pumped up and have a lot of emotion.  He taught me how to bring the emotion down, visualize and relax and get prepared for matches.  He simplified things for me and a lot of the little things he taught me, I still do in my matches today.

More important, he was someone I liked being around.  You could travel to a tournament with him and never talk about wrestling.  He was someone you could always talk to about anything and he would be there for you.  People would introduce him as an Olympic champion, but he would never introduce himself like that.  He was so humble.  He never really mentioned the things he accomplished.  It was all about helping you get better at wrestling or helping you in some other way.  He will be missed by a lot of people.  It will be very different without him.”


Alexis Porter, Two-Time Freestyle National Champion

“I remember when I first met him, at a small peewee tournament.  I hadn’t been wrestling for more than a few months.  He saw something in me that day that not a lot of people had seen and he became my coach.  I knew he was a legend who was courageous and inspirational but he didn’t focus on his own story.  He was focused on making everyone in our club the best wrestler they could be and help them achieve the biggest goals possible.

My first year at Fargo, I lost in the consolation finals.  I was upset and angry. He told me I had nothing to be ashamed of and that next year I would be on top of the podium.  He said I had bigger things to look forward to.  Sure enough, the next year, he was in my corner when I won my first national title.  He was one of the best wrestlers and coaches I’ve seen and an even better man.  I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to know him and to call him my coach.”


Craig Vitagliano, Team New York Freestyle Coach (Ascend Wrestling)

“I knew about Jeff Blatnick growing up.  He was one of the first wrestlers I saw on the Olympic level and I remember sitting and watching the gold medal match.  I’d heard about all the adversity he had to overcome and the way he focused and won the Olympic gold was inspiring for me. It was an amazing moment in Olympic history.

Fast forward to the past couple of years when I got to know Jeff on the Freestyle circuit.  Our club battled Journeymen a number of times and he was always respectful, friendly and approachable.  There was no arrogance despite all he accomplished.  He was also light hearted with a great sense of humor.  He was behind a big joke played on me at Fargo this year when I was told that I failed my bronze certification test and was going to be removed from the event.  Jeff was the leader of it and had me going for about 20 minutes.  He was a great man and a great ambassador and it’s a huge loss.”


Dylan Palacio, High School National Champion and Cornell Recruit

“Even when I was unsuccessful, [Blatnick] believed in me.  He saw some potential and kept pushing me to achieve what he thought I was capable of.  It’s really rare to find someone so genuine, who just wants you to be better and achieve great things.  He truly cared about the sport and the people in it. My biggest regret is that I never told him how much of an impact he had on me. I really want to do things now to make sure he looks down and says, ‘I was right about that kid.’ I could go on for days about all the things he’s accomplished but what really sticks with me is how sincere he was about wanting to see kids succeed.”


Mike Kelley, Journeymen Wrestling

“He always went out of his way to help the kids.  There was a tournament in Connecticut that was over two hours away and bunch of kids were supposed to go.  Then kids started dropping out and only two were left.  A lot of coaches would have decided not to go with only two kids.  But he insisted on going. That’s the kind of guy he was.  If he said he was going to do something, he did it. He always took the time.

Last year at Freestyle states, Nick [Kelley, Mike’s son and Fargo All-American] had an injury to his mouth and it got hit again and was pretty bad.  [Blatnick] went around the place asking everyone if they had a facemask for Nick to use.  He didn’t stop until he found one.  He looked out for everyone.  It wasn’t just successful wrestlers.  It didn’t matter who it was.  If it was first-year kids making all kinds of mistakes, he went out of his way to spend time with them.  He went the extra mile.

He was a great coach. He had a calming effect.  Nick said no matter how loud it was, he could always hear [Blatnick] and his instructions even though he didn’t scream.  There was just something about him.  He was a great guy that will be missed.”


Frank Popolizio

“Jeff was an enormous part of our organization at Journeymen Wrestling and the wrestling community as a whole.  Above all, Jeff was a gentleman and an ambassador.  A lot of people look at him as a wrestling guy, but he was a lot more than that. He was a major ambassador for the disabled.  He played a big role in the Special Olympics.  He was involved in cancer-related causes.  It seemed like he was always at fundraising events for cancer and helping to raise awareness.

He was a tremendous worker on top of it all.  He spent a lot of time in the wrestling room trying to help the kids.  He was in charge of our Freestyle program.  Freestyle ends in July and so did his obligations and responsibilities to being there for the kids.  But he’d be there in August and September and October.  I’d tell him he didn’t have to be there, but he wanted to be.  That’s the kind of guy he was.  He cared tremendously about the kids and they really responded to him.

The angle that’s not being covered is an ability that Jeff had as maybe the best, most effective wrestling diplomat.  He was in charge of things that were very political, including the head of USA Wrestling New York.  It’s a difficult position working with many different groups and personalities, but he was able to navigate through it with ease.  I don’t think it was easy, but he made it look easy.  He was really good at it – Olympic level good.  We were all better off for the work he did.

We lost a giant of a guy figuratively and literally.  It’s an enormous void on so many levels and I’m not sure you can ever truly fill it.”


We’ll end with an inspiring video of Jeff Blatnick at the 1984 Olympic Games, winning his gold medal and reacting afterwards.  Popolizio said watching it gave him goose bumps and it did the same for us.  RIP, Jeff Blatnick, you will be missed.

Fargo 2012 Recap for NY: Three National Champs and More Than 25 All-Americans

After eight days full of wrestling at Fargo, New York boasted three National Champions, 28 total All-Americans and a number of breakout performances.

The following are some of the stories that emerged during the week.

Seniors Go Out Strong

The Empire State’s class of 2012 was outstanding, featuring the winningest wrestler in state history (Quinton Murphy), a National Champion who represented the USA All-Stars at both the Dapper Dan and Dream Team Duals (Brian Realbuto) and a grappler who remained undefeated throughout the high school campaign, the New York Freestyle and Greco States, the NHSCA Senior Nationals and the Disney Duals (Dylan Palacio). In all, five New Yorkers were ranked in Intermat’s final Top 100.

Brian Realbuto, Photo by Boris Veysman

Murphy, Realbuto and Palacio all placed in the top four in brackets of more than 75 entrants at Fargo, going a combined 23-6 against some of the best in the nation.

After a bronze medal finish in 2011, Murphy returned and took silver at 138 pounds.  He showed resilience, winning five in a row to make the finals after losing a match on the opening day.  He will next compete in the Big 10 as a member of the Indiana Hoosiers.

Realbuto and Palacio will also wear red in college – Cornell Big Red.   Both took fourth on Saturday after impressive runs.

Realbuto, last year’s champion at 145, wrestled well despite an injury.  He defaulted to Oliver Pierce, a wrestler he defeated last year at this tournament, to take fourth.  Similarly, Palacio was dominant for much of the event and stood fourth on the podium after dropping his final bout against Wisconsin’s Matt Gray on Saturday.

All three will be worth watching on the NCAA scene in the coming years.

Stating Their Cases

The early national rankings included several Empire State representatives, such as Nicky Hall, Troy Seymour, Nick Lupi and Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer.  But several of the state’s top rising seniors who weren’t listed made clear statements over the past few days.

Tyler Grimaldi, a 2012 state runner up who was an All-American at the NHSCA Junior Nationals in the spring, once again made his presence felt at a national event, winning seven matches and taking sixth place in the deep 160 pound bracket.

“I always see the rankings, but they don’t mean too much to me,” Grimaldi said. “It’s all about wrestling on the mat and getting the wins.  With more wins, the rankings will come.”

Those rankings may also come for other members of the Empire State squad.

Kyle Kelly of Chenango Forks, a two-time champion in New York, made the medal stand for the second consecutive year in Greco, and a pair of workout partners from Section 2, Nick Kelley (fourth at 132 pounds) and David Almaviva (eighth at 145 pounds) showcased their skills in Junior Freestyle.  Kelley, a multi-time state placer, picked up seven victories, defeating nationally-ranked grapplers such as Jared McKinley of Indiana.

“Before the tournament, I was really hoping to be an All-American, but you never know how it will work out there with the draw and so many great wrestlers,” Kelley said. “I felt like I was pretty strong at the weight. I had some tough matches where I think my strength and my conditioning were big advantages.  When the matches went on longer, I felt more confident.  I felt like [opponents] started dying down and I started regaining energy.”

The same could be said for Almaviva, who was wrestling up a weight from the high school season.

“It was great watching [Almaviva] do so well, especially wrestling up at 145,” Kelley said. “It seemed like he was still stronger than most of the guys he wrestled.”

Plainsmen on the Podium

Nick Kelley, Photo by Boris Veysman

Kelley and Almaviva weren’t the only success stories from their school this weekend.  Some entire states captured five or fewer medals.  Shenenedehowa High School earned five on its own, including a pair of national titles in the women’s competition by Alexis Porter and a Cadet Greco fourth place showing by Jesse Porter.

“There are a ton of All-Americans to work with in our room now,” Kelley said. “Having practice partners like that helps us all get better. We have a lot of tough wrestlers coming back next year.  I think we’ll be pretty solid.”

Head coach Rob Weeks will certainly have a solid team, one that will likely be a top contender again in Albany.

Girl Power

Speaking of Alexis Porter . . . the ladies brought home three national titles.

“Getting a pin in the Cadet finals like Alexis did – that’s a big deal,” Kelley said.  “Then, winning another title in Junior Freestyle was great. She had a great tournament.”

In addition to Porter’s two championships, Mary Westman improved upon her second place showing in 2011 to demonstrate that she is the top 159-pounder in the land.

Warsaw’s Hanna Grisewood was also a finalist for the Empire State, taking second at 112 and Rosemary Flores was third at 130 pounds a year after taking double titles.

The Future

Quite a few of the stars of this year’s event will be eligible to return.  In addition to wrestlers such as Nick Kelley, Almaviva, Grimaldi, Kyle Kelly, Flores and the Porters, several others who made an impact may wear the New York singlet again in 2013.

Rodriguez-Spencer went 10-2 at the Junior Duals and followed that up with a third place finish in Greco.  He’ll be a threat in both styles next year, as will Chris Cuccolo who medaled in Greco this year after placing in both styles in 2011.

Leading the charge for the Cadets were Freestyle All-Americans Thomas Dutton and Chris Tangora as well as Greco placer Benjamin Honis, who was one win short of medaling in Freestyle as well.  They will be joined by Santo Curatolo, Brendan Goldup and Sam Ward, who will look to climb higher on the podium.

And of course, there are the wrestlers who didn’t become All-Americans this time, but will break through the barrier next year.  Just ask Nick Kelley, who was 3-2 in his last appearance at Fargo in 2010.  Or Grimaldi, who went 1-2 last July.

“I got beaten up last year at Fargo,” Grimaldi said.  “It was tough.  But over the entire year I had the mentality of working hard to do better.  Am I happy with 6th this year?  No.  But if I put it in perspective and look at the step I took from last year, I realize it was a big accomplishment.  I’m 100% coming back next year.  I have unfinished business in Fargo, North Dakota.”

That kind of mentality promises to bring a large medal haul back to New York in July of 2013.  But for now, with Fargo 2012 in the rearview mirror, it’s time to change the focus back to folkstyle.  The countdown to the 2012-13 high school season has begun.


2012 New York All-Americans at Fargo


106 Pounds: Kyle Kelly, 7th Place Greco

113 Pounds: Josh Antoine, 8th Place Greco

120 Pounds: Santo Curatolo, 6th Place Greco

132 Pounds: Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, 3rd Place Greco

152 Pounds: Brendan Goldup, 5th Place Greco

160 Pounds: Connor Sutton, 5th Place Greco

182 Pounds: McZiggy Richards, 4th Place Greco

182 Pounds: Chris Loew, 7th Place Greco


132 Pounds: Nick Kelley, 4th Place Freestyle

138 Pounds: Quinton Murphy, 2nd Place Freestyle

145 Pounds: David Almaviva, 8th Place Freestyle

152 Pounds: Brian Realbuto, 4th Place Freestyle

160 Pounds: Dylan Palacio, 4th Place Freestyle

160 Pounds: Tyler Grimaldi 6th Place Freestyle



94 Pounds: Chris Cuccolo, Cadet Greco 5th

132 Pounds: Jesse Porter, Cadet Greco 4th

132 Pounds: Sam Ward, Cadet Greco 7th

182 Pounds: Benjamin Honis, Cadet Greco 7th


138 Pounds: Thomas Dutton, 8th Place Freestyle

195 Pounds: Chris Tangora, 8th Place Freestyle


Women –  Cadet

143 Pounds: Alexis Porter, Cadet Freestyle Champion

143 Pounds: Kennedie Eddings, Cadet Freestyle 6th

172 Pounds: Yuneris Diaz, Cadet Freestyle 3rd


Women –  Junior

112 Pounds: Hanna Grisewood, 2nd Place

130 Pounds: Rosemary Flores, 3rd Place

139 Pounds: Alexis Porter, Champion

159 Pounds: Mary Westman, Champion

172 Pounds: Yuneris Diaz, 5th Place

New York Crowns Six Junior Freestyle All-Americans; Quinton Murphy to Wrestle for the Championship

New York crowned six All-Americans in Junior Freestyle on Friday.  The placement matches will take place on Saturday as the tournament comes to a close.  The Empire State All-Americans are:

Wrestling for the Championship: Quinton Murphy (Holley), 138 Pounds (Took 2nd)

Wrestling for 3rd: Nick Kelley (Shenendehowa), 132 Pounds (Took 4th)

Wrestling for 3rd: Brian Realbuto (Somers), 152 Pounds (Took 4th)

Wrestling for 3rd: Dylan Palacio (Long Beach), 160 Pounds (Took 4th)

Wrestling for 5th: Tyler Grimaldi (Half Hollow Hills West), 160 Pounds (Took 6th)

Wrestling for 7th: David Almaviva (Shenendehowa), 145 Pounds (Took 8th)


Quinton Murphy finished third at Fargo in Junior Freestyle last year and was looking to cap off his high school career this July with a National Championship.  But after losing a match on Thursday, he knew he would have to go on a long winning streak to reach that goal.

He was able to do just that, reeling off five straight victories on Friday to earn his spot in the finals against Bryce Brill of Illinois at 138 pounds.

Friday began on the right foot for Murphy as he pinned Walker Damewood of Oregon in less than 30 seconds.  However, in his next contest, he dropped the first period 6-0 to Davey Dolan of Oklahoma before responding with a fall midway through the next stanza for another win.

From there, Murphy defeated the other three All-Americans in his pool, Darick LaPaglia of Missouri, Justin Arthur of West Virginia and Hayden Tuma of Idaho to reach the title bout.  Against Tuma in the decisive match, Murphy lost the initial period 8-0 before taking the next two by the scores of 5-3 and 5-1.

Last year, Murphy handed eventual champion Ben Whitford a loss in pool action and then watched the Michigan grappler take the title.  This time, Murphy hopes to be the one holding the trophy before beginning his college career at Indiana.

Beginning their college careers soon in Ithaca, NY will be Brian Realbuto and Dylan Palacio.  But before they do, they will look to pick up third place medals at Fargo.

Realbuto won the crown in North Dakota last summer and breezed through the early stages of the tournament, recording two pins and two technical falls in his first five matches.  In his sixth bout against Keilan Torres of Oklahoma, Realbuto dropped the first period 1-0 and fell behind 4-0 in the second while aggravating an injury sustained at the Junior Duals.  However, he was able to overcome the deficit to eventually win the middle stanza 6-5 and then wasted little time in racking up seven points in the third to end the match quickly.

The Somers graduate then defeated California’s Jake Elliott and won the first period against Yoanse Mejia of Florida 4-0 before taking a full injury timeout.  After the action resumed, Mejia grabbed a 0-4, 5-0, 6-0 decision.

On Saturday, Realbuto is slated to meet Oliver Pierce of Texas for third place.

Realbuto’s future teammate with the Big Red, Dylan Palacio will also battle for the bronze.  Palacio was in total control of his first seven bouts during which he didn’t lose a single period and yielded more than one point in just one match (his 2-0, 6-2 triumph over Seth Williams of Ohio).

“He just looks phenomenal,” said coach Craig Vitagliano of Ascend Wrestling in Long Island, after Palacio moved to 7-0 on Friday afternoon. “He had a tough draw, but he kept rising to the occasion.  He’s shown everything.  He can handfight, he wears people down, he works the line and knows when to go offensive and when to go defensive.  He’s such a gamer.”

The “gamer” went undefeated during the high school season, won the NHSCA Senior Nationals in Virginia Beach and went unbeaten at the Disney Duals.  His streak came to an end on Friday night when he lost a battle to California’s Isaiah Martinez, one of the nation’s top rising seniors.

Palacio will square off against Matt Gray of Wisconsin on Saturday for third.

Joining Palacio as an All-American in the 160-pound bracket is Tyler Grimaldi, who will compete for fifth.  The Half Hollow Hills West wrestler showed his composure throughout the tournament, coming back from deficits on numerous occasions.

Grimaldi cruised to wins in his initial two bouts, but then lost the first period in his next four matches.  All four times, he bounced back to take the last two stanzas, outscoring his opponents 33-11 over the last two periods in those bouts.

“Tyler isn’t as experienced in freestyle as a lot of other guys, but he makes up for it with mental toughness,” Vitagliano said on Friday afternoon.  “He’s totally coachable and fights tooth and nail for every point.  He lost some of those first periods but he is so good at making adjustments mid-match.  He’s also so well conditioned so he wears guys down.  If you’re not as experienced in freestyle but you’re good on your feet and you understand par terre defense, you can do well here.  All those things have put Tyler in the position he’s in now.”

That position is a battle for fifth with Idaho’s Austin Dewey on Saturday after Grimaldi topped Chris Lattner and lost to Gray and Nick Wanzek on Friday evening.

More Medals for Shenendehowa

Earlier in the week, Shenendehowa was well represented on the podium as Alexis Porter earned a pair of national titles and Jesse Porter placed in Greco.  Now, the Plainsmen have another two All-Americans to add to an impressive 2012 Fargo event – training partners Nick Kelley (132) and David Almaviva (145).

Kelley compiled an impressive 7-1 mark to earn a slot in the third place bout against Robbie Mathers of Arizona.  The 132 pounder started the day with a hard fought win over California’s Ali Naser.  Although Naser won the first period 4-0, Kelley grabbed the next two, 5-0 and 1-1 to move forward.  The multi-time state placer from Section 2 then defeated George Fisher of Illinois and Jared McKinley of Indiana to run his record to 7-0 before dropping a bout against finalist Zain Retherford of Pennsylvania.

Almaviva went 5-0 on Thursday and added another victory over Phil Downing to begin day two in a three period match.  He was then defeated by Brandon Sorensen and Austin Eads but will meet Brian Murphy of Illinois, a runner up at this weight a year ago, for seventh.

Placement matches begin at 11 a.m. Eastern time on Saturday.

The Conclusion of Cadet Freestyle

A pair of rising sophomores earned eighth place medals for New York on Friday afternoon as the Cadet Freestyle event came to an end.

Thomas Dutton captured the first period of the seventh place tilt by a 6-2 tally against Pennsylvania’s Chris Weiler, but his opponent came back to pin him in the second.  Dutton will return to Rocky Point next year after winning over 40 matches as a freshman 132 pounder in 2011-12.

Chris Tangora, a student at Bethlehem Central, also took eighth after losing to Matthew Olauson of Maryland in his final bout.  Tangora won more than 25 matches during the 2011-12 campaign at 182 pounds.

The Full List of New York All-Americans in All Competitions at Fargo


106 Pounds: Kyle Kelly, 7th Place Greco

113 Pounds: Josh Antoine, 8th Place Greco

120 Pounds: Santo Curatolo, 6th Place Greco

132 Pounds: Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, 3rd Place Greco

152 Pounds: Brendan Goldup, 5th Place Greco

160 Pounds: Connor Sutton, 5th Place Greco

182 Pounds: McZiggy Richards, 4th Place Greco

182 Pounds: Chris Loew, 7th Place Greco


132 Pounds: Nick Kelley, 4th Place Freestyle

138 Pounds: Quinton Murphy, 2nd Place Freestyle

145 Pounds: David Almaviva, 8th Place Freestyle

152 Pounds: Brian Realbuto, 4th Place Freestyle

160 Pounds: Dylan Palacio, 4th Place Freestyle

160 Pounds: Tyler Grimaldi 6th Place Freestyle



94 Pounds: Chris Cuccolo, Cadet Greco 5th

132 Pounds: Jesse Porter, Cadet Greco 4th

132 Pounds: Sam Ward, Cadet Greco 7th

182 Pounds: Benjamin Honis, Cadet Greco 7th


138 Pounds: Thomas Dutton, 8th Place Freestyle

195 Pounds: Chris Tangora, 8th Place Freestyle


Women –  Cadet

143 Pounds: Alexis Porter, Cadet Freestyle Champion

143 Pounds: Kennedie Eddings, Cadet Freestyle 6th

172 Pounds: Yuneris Diaz, Cadet Freestyle 3rd


Women –  Junior

112 Pounds: Hanna Grisewood, 2nd Place

130 Pounds: Rosemary Flores, 3rd Place

139 Pounds: Alexis Porter, Champion

159 Pounds: Mary Westman, Champion

172 Pounds: Yuneris Diaz, 5th Place

Dutton and Tangora Become All-Americans; Seven NY Wrestlers Undefeated After Day 1 of Junior Freestyle

New York had four All-Americans in Cadet Greco and now has two in Cadet Freestyle.  On Thursday night, Rocky Point’s Thomas Dutton (138 pounds) and Bethlehem Central’s Chris Tangora (195) clinched spots on the podium.  Both will wrestle for seventh place on Friday.

Dutton has amassed a 5-2 record with three pins, while Tangora has a 3-2 mark and will face Matthew Olauson of Maryland on Friday.

Also remaining in medal contention for New York is Benjamin Honis, who has racked up a 3-1 record thus far.  The Jamesville-Dewitt grappler will face Samuel Colbray of Oregon in his next bout.  With a victory, Honis will be an All-American as well.

Seven Wrestlers Go Undefeated for New York on Day 1 of Junior Freestyle

The Junior Freestyle tournament, the final Fargo event, got underway on Thursday and many Empire State wrestlers got off to a great start.  In fact, seven grapplers finished the day with perfect records, including three in the 160 pound bracket — Dylan Palacio (4-0), Tyler Grimaldi (4-0) and Burke Paddock (3-0).

Reggie Williams, Photo by Boris Veysman

Returning National Champion Brian Realbuto (152) began his run at another title by going 4-0, including two technical falls and a pin.

Shenendehowa teammates Nick Kelley (132 pounds) and David Almaviva (145) also were unbeaten, while Johnson City’s Reggie Williams (195) had an unblemished day as well.

Several others remain in the competition for the Empire State.  They include multi-time state champions Kyle Kelly (106) and Quinton Murphy (138), as well as 2012 state silver medalists Trey Aslanian (120) and El Shaddai Gilmore Van Hoesen (285).  Representing New York at 220 pounds on Friday will be NY Freestyle state champion Soslan Gularov and Matthew Abbott of Windsor, who both registered 2-1 marks on Thursday.

Action resumes at 10 a.m. Eastern time on Friday in both the Cadet and Freestyle competitions.


Over 90 New York Wrestlers To Compete at Fargo; Realbuto and Flores Look to Repeat as Champions

The biggest tournament of the summer is here as competition begins in Fargo, North Dakota on Saturday.  Here are a few of the New York storylines to watch.

Will the champions repeat?

Rosemary Flores had a tremendous tournament in 2011, capturing titles in both the Cadet and Junior divisions while winning eight of her nine bouts by pin.  She has enjoyed sustained success throughout the year, earning a spot on the ASICS Girls All-American First Team and taking second at a number of prestigious tournaments including the Cadet Pan Am Championships and the Body Bar Women’s National tournament.  The New York City standout will be back for another run, this time at 130 pounds.

Last summer, Brian Realbuto became the first Men’s Freestyle title winner from the Empire State since Troy Nickerson won double titles back in 2004.  The 145-pound class that Realbuto won was loaded with top tier talent, such as Jake Sueflohn, who won 25 matches as a true freshman at Nebraska last season and top 20 recruits such as Brandon Kingsley, Oliver Pierce and Brian Murphy.  The Somers star wrestled only in a pair of matches at the Junior Duals in Oklahoma City, but is registered to compete at 152 pounds this week where he will once again be challenged by a plethora of formidable opponents such as Ohio’s Anthony Collica, New Jersey’s Dylan Milonas, Murphy, Pierce and a familiar face, Long Beach’s Dylan Palacio.

Speaking of Palacio, can he keep his unbeaten streak alive?

It’s been quite a year for the Nassau County wrestler.  Palacio had an unblemished record during the high school campaign to win his first state championship, then went on to earn gold at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach.  He followed that with dominant performances at the New York Freestyle and Greco States, taking the top spot in both, and then went undefeated at the Disney Duals, beating nationally-ranked grapplers such as Garrett Peppelman and Taylor Simaz.  While he has placed at Fargo in the past (8th in Greco a year ago), he has made it clear that he is looking to reach the top of the podium in North Dakota before beginning his college career in Ithaca.

Which other returning placers are gearing up for a title run?


Four-time state champion Quinton Murphy readily admits that while he has had success in folkstyle throughout his career, he prefers Freestyle.  He has proven his capabilities in the international styles as well, including an fourth place at the Youth Olympics Games in 2010.  In 2011, he took bronze at Fargo at 135 pounds, handing the eventual winner Ben Whitford of Michigan his only loss.  Murphy went undefeated in limited action at the Junior Duals in Freestyle a few weeks ago and will be among the favorites at 138 pounds, where he could again meet Whitford.

The 160-pound Junior competition may be of interest to New York fans as several accomplished grapplers take the mat.  Burke Paddock of Warsaw has a long list of achievements, including earning sixth in 2011 in Greco at the same weight and capturing the Junior Greco World Duals event this spring.   Columbia-bound Connor Sutton placed at FILA Juniors in Greco and comes into the week with a lot of momentum.  In fact, WIN Magazine picked Sutton to make the finals at Fargo following his All-Tournament team performance at the Junior Duals in late June where he went 8-0 in the style.


Chris Cuccolo was a double medalist in 2011, taking fifth in both styles at 84 pounds in the Cadet division.  The Pine Bush wrestler returns to the Cadet competition, this time at 94 pounds where Intermat has labeled him the favorite on the Greco side.

Shenendehowa’s Jesse Porter has a track record of success in the international styles, including a 2011 Schoolboy National Championship at 105 pounds in Greco.  He is one to watch in Cadet Greco action at 132 pounds.


Mary Westman made the finals in 2011 at 148 pounds, registering three wins by fall, and looks to finish one rung higher on the ladder in the 159-pound class this week.  Alexis Porter wrestled in both divisions in 2011, garnering third (Cadet) and fourth (Junior) in the 124/125 weight classes.  She is currently registered at 143 pounds in the Cadet competition and should be a contender.  In addition, two returning sixth place finishers, Kendra Kenyon and Kennedie Eddings, will look to climb to the top of the podium.

Which wrestlers will make a smooth transition from the Cadet to Junior competition?

There are several wrestlers on Team New York who appear ready to make the jump.  Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer of Cheektowoga was fourth at 125 pounds in Freestyle and has placed in a number of national events in both Greco and Freestyle.  At the Junior Duals, he went 10-2 overall and looks poised to represent the Empire State well following his runner up performance in Albany in February.

Another New York state finalist, Reggie Williams of Johnson City, stood fifth on the podium last year at 215 as a Cadet and will try to repeat that success at the Junior level, this time at 195 pounds.

What other state placers should be watched closely?

A large number of medalists from Albany in 2012 will be fighting for All-America status, including state champions Kyle Kelly of Chenango Forks (7th in Greco in 2011 at Fargo) and Dylan Realbuto (126) of Somers.  In addition, several other top four finishers at the Times Union Center such as Columbia’s El Shaddai Gilmore-Van Hoesen (285), McZiggy Richards (182), Troy Seymour (170), Tyler Grimaldi (160), David Almaviva (145) and Nick Kelley (132), Ryan Snow (126), William Koll (120), Nick Casella (100) and Trey Aslanian will look for podium positions.  Aslanian, a two-time folkstyle silver medalist in New York, went an impressive 7-1 at the Junior Duals.

Which of the New York State Freestyle and Greco title double winners will be taking the mat?

In addition to Palacio and Koll, 220-pounder Soslan Gularov was a double champion who is registered.  On the Cadet side, a handful of double titlists will represent the Empire State – Matthew Morris (113 pounds), Freddie Dunau (120), Mike Dusold (152) and Daniel Smith (170).  Josh Antoine was the 113-pound champion in both Freestyle and Greco at the Northeast Regional qualifier as well.

Many wrestlers were mentioned and there are sure to be others who stand out on one of the sport’s biggest stages.

Stay tuned and check back for updates and interviews throughout the week.


 2011 Fargo All-Americans from New York

Junior Freestyle

105 – Lucas Malmberg (Marathon), 6th

112 – John Aslanian (Edgemont), 8th

135 – Quinton Murphy (Holley), 3rd and Steven Rodrigues (Fox Lane), 5th

145 – Brian Realbuto (Somers), Champion

Junior Greco

98 – Kyle Kelly (Chenango Forks), 7th

135 – Patrick Hogan (Peru), 8th

152 – Dylan Palacio (Long Beach), 8th

160 – Burke Paddock (Warsaw), 6th

Cadet Freestyle

84 – Chris Cuccolo (Pine Bush), 5th

125 – Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer (Cheektowoga), 4th

130 – Jonathan Craft, 8th

215 – Reggie Williams (Johnson City), 5th

Cadet Greco

84 – Chris Cuccolo (Pine Bush), 5th

Junior Women’s Freestyle

105 – Hanna Grisewood (Warsaw), 5th

125 – Rosemary Flores (Curtis), Champion, Alexis Porter (Shenendehowa), 4th

148 – Mary Westman, 2nd

Cadet Women’s Freestyle

88 – Kim Cardenas (Petrides), 4th

101 – Leah Taylor (Alexander), 8th

115 – Kendra Kenyon (Warsaw), 6th

124 – Rosemary Flores (Curtis), Champion, Alexis Porter (Shenendehowa), 3rd

143 – Keneddii Eddings (Niagara Falls), 6th

Overcoming Forfeits and Wrangling Snakes: NY Kong Represents the Empire State at Disney Duals


Team NY Kong, Photo courtesy of Steve Hromada/Anthony Ciolino

There were some twists and turns along the way, but the Empire State’s debut in the All-Star division at the AAU Scholastic Duals (aka Disney Duals) was a success, as Team New York Kong took eighth place in Orlando in a competition that featured teams from all over the country.

“I’m so proud of these kids,” said coach Anthony Ciolino.  “What they did was awesome. To go to a national tournament, one of the toughest I’ve been to, and get to the All-American round is unbelievable, especially when you’re giving up as many points as we had to.”

According to Ciolino, who hadn’t participated in an AAU event before, the rules of the organization in New York limited the number of scoring team members by region of the state.  When he arrived in Florida, Ciolino was informed that some of the grapplers who had made the trip would not be allowed to figure into the scoring and therefore, every dual meet essentially began with a 12-0 deficit.

“We brought a great team – every one of the guys was an All-State wrestler,” Ciolino said. “I couldn’t believe we had to tell wrestlers like [state second placer finishers] Jacob Berkowitz, El Shaddai Van Hoesen and Nicky Hall that they could wrestle but their matches would be scored as forfeits for the other team.  Those guys wrestled very well, but every dual, 182 and 285 didn’t count.”

Early on, that didn’t matter.  The squad opened with four blowout victories over opponents from Ohio, Michigan and Delaware and went 6-1 overall in pool action, with the one setback against Pennsylvania’s Team Diesel, which was the eventual runner up.

The team then won its next two meets against teams from Missouri and Georgia before dropping its final two contests to Keystone Elite (PA) and Michigan’s MYWA Blue, bouts both Ciolino and Cornell-recruit Dylan Palacio felt would have gone differently with a full strength side.

“Looking at it, I think we were the third-best team there,” Palacio said.  “Diesel beat us, no question.  They were just really, really good.  But the other duals we could have won.  At that level, with nationally ranked kids everywhere, giving up 12 points in a dual [and 18 against Michigan with one team member having to leave], there’s no way to come back.  We took the challenge with a grain of salt and made the top eight.”

In the process of making the top eight, many individuals stood out.  Among them was a pair of undefeated wrestlers – Palacio and Frewsburg’s Nick Mitchell.

Palacio topped multiple nationally-ranked foes, including Pennsylvania state champion Garrett Peppelman, in his only close bout.  In fact, Peppelman took an early 5-0 lead, but Palacio chipped away at the deficit, eventually notching back points very late in the third period to get the victory.

“I wasn’t happy with how I wrestled in that match,” Palacio said. “I had to claw my way back.  There was a point in the match where I had to ask myself if I believed I could win.  But there was no going back. I wasn’t tired. I believed I should win every time I wrestled and I got it done.”

Nick Mitchell, Photo by Boris Veysman

Mitchell, who will attend Edinboro in the fall, got the job done as well.

“Nick Mitchell is one of the slickest kids in New York State.  He was really, really good,” Palacio said. “People like to talk about who’s better, D1 or D2 [Division 1 or 2] in New York.  After this weekend, I know that D2 kids are for real.  I might have been skeptical, but they shut me up really quickly.”

According to Ciolino, several other wrestlers registered seven or more victories for NY Kong during the event in addition to Mitchell and Palacio, including Marathon’s Lucas Malmberg, Lansing’s William Koll, Wayne’s Alec Dierna, Shenendehowa’s Nick Kelley, Williamsville East’s Dylan Cohen, Longwood’s Corey Rasheed, Medina’s Tristan Hamner and Niagara Wheatfield’s Max Antone.

“Hamner really battled and beat some very good kids,” Palacio said. “Antone surprised me. He was so athletic, doing flips and cartwheels.  I was in a state of shock.”

A similar state of shock may have been felt by a crowd at the team’s hotel as they saw a large snake on the premises. According to Ciolino, there was Palacio, standing near the lizard, speaking in an Australian accent, instructing people and trying to keep them calm.

“I was acting like the snake wrangler,” he said. “Everyone was listening to me.  That was a funny time, and there were so many others.  There was stuff like that all week. Everyone was funny and laid back.  We became really close – it was like wrestling with my friends and wrestling with family and there’s nothing better than that.”

“I couldn’t believe how the team jelled,” Ciolino agreed. “It didn’t feel like I brought a team from every corner of the state, even though that’s what I did.  It felt like the team was a bunch of guys who went to high school together.  They had a great time at the pool, at Disney World, playing jokes on each other. It was unbelievable.”

Despite some of the initial issues, it’s an experience Ciolino is hoping to repeat again in 2013.

“A lot of the juniors already told me they want to come back,” he said.  “It’s not a hard sell.  It’s a great place to be and you know the kind of competition you’ll see here.  The national exposure is great.  I had college coaches asking me about some of the guys. Now I know the rules and we want to do it again.”

That was a sentiment echoed by Palacio, although he’s headed to college.

“I went with a North Carolina team last year but this was way better,” he said. “I would love to do it all over again.  We took the good with the bad but in the end, I think we showed everyone that New York is for real.”


[Ciolino wished to thank Steve Hromada and Kim McClaugherty for all their work during the trip].

Team Members:

Lucas Malmberg, Marathon

Justin Cooksey, MacArthur

Jimmy Overhiser, Corning

William Koll, Lansing

Alec Dierna, Wayne

Nick Kelley, Shenendehowa

Dylan Cohen, Williamsville East

Corey Rasheed, Longwood

Tristan Hamner, Medina

Nicky Hall, Longwood

Dylan Palacio, Long Beach

Nick Mitchell, Frewsburg

Jacob Berkowitz, Scarsdale

Austyn Hayes, Phoenix

Max Antone, Niagara Wheatfield

El Shaddai Van Hoesen, Columbia


Palacio Earns Triple Crown; Ndokaj, Koll, Gularov, Livernash Win Double Titles at NY States

By Betsy Veysman

The first thing Dylan Palacio told Long Beach head coach Ray Adams after winning the Greco and Freestyle New York State titles this past weekend was that he’s not done yet.

While the Cornell-bound senior, who competed for Ascend in Binghamton, won’t consider himself finished with his high school goals until he competes for national championships in Freestyle and Greco in North Dakota this summer, he did achieve something significant this weekend – the New York State Triple Crown.  (He won the Empire State folkstyle title at the NYPHSAA Division I tournament in Albany in February).

None of the results have come as a surprise to Adams.

“Going into the season, I thought he could have all the success he’s had,” the coach said. “He just missed on a lot of these goals in the past – finishing third at States and at the Nationals in Virginia Beach.  He just came up a little short and was knocking at the door.  After all he’s done, it was just his time.”

Adams believes that both Palacio’s mindset and the work he put in prior to this season made the difference.

“Dylan really improved his technique all around, but especially on his feet where he developed more of an arsenal.  He opened up and put a lot of points on the board,” Adams said. “He also had a one-track mind this year; he was 100% driven.  His mental toughness and refusal to lose have really shown.  He’s really stubborn with his goals.”

At Fargo in 2011, Palacio went 4-2 in Freestyle and took eighth in Greco.  He has made it clear that he expects to be on the top of the podium this time.

“You obviously have to be really good to win at Fargo and you need a little luck too,” Adams said. “Dylan knows he can win there.  If he continues to train hard, I think he has a very legitimate shot at winning in both styles.”

Another wrestler looking forward to a return trip to North Dakota is Rrok Ndokaj.   The Monsignor Farrell senior didn’t place there a year ago, but clinched a spot on the Empire State squad with his titles in both Freestyle and Greco over the weekend while wrestling for Beat the Streets.

“I felt confident going in,” Ndokaj said. “I felt like there shouldn’t be anything standing in my way.”

The titles were a continuation of Ndokaj’s postseason success in 2012.  After falling one round short of the podium at the state tournament in 2011, the Catholic League champ took fourth place at the Times Union Center this time at 170.

“It was a little bittersweet at States,” he said. “I came in seeded second and wanted to make the finals, but I guess I can’t be too upset about placing.”

The Staten Island native followed up his performance in Albany with an All-American finish (eighth) at FloNationals in Philadelphia down at 160.

Back at 170 pounds this weekend, the future Bloomsburg grappler won 13 matches, dropping a total of just two periods, to capture both the Freestyle and Greco Roman New York state titles.

“Wrestling at Fargo last year was definitely a great experience, being in that arena wrestling at a national level,” Ndokaj said. “I want to go back and try to do something better.  A national championship is my goal. It’s the only goal you can set.”

Joining Palacio and Ndokaj as double champions at Broome Community College on Saturday and Sunday were Team Worldwide’s Ethan Livernash (100 pounds), Finger Lakes Wrestling Club’s William Koll (120) and Soslan Gularov of Team Steeplechase (220).

Koll won both Freestyle and Greco titles at this event a year ago, but didn’t make the trip to Fargo in 2011.  He will make his debut in North Dakota after breezing through the competition in the Empire State, winning by pin or technical fall in eight of his 11 bouts, dropping just one period along the way.

Livernash swept Andy Martinez to win both of his titles while Gularov won 10 of his 11 bouts in straight periods.  The only opponent to take him to the limit was Team Worldwide’s Matthew Abbott in the Freestyle finals, however Gularov took the third stanza of that match in dominating fashion, 6-0.

Ndokaj was one of the champions for Beat the Streets, which showed its strength across the Cadet, Junior and Women’s brackets.  The New York City based club took first in both Freestyle and Greco in the Junior division and second and third, respectively, in Cadet Greco and Freestyle.

MVWC came out on top in both styles in the Cadet competition, while Ascend was top three in three of the events (second in Cadet FS and Junior Greco; third in Junior FS). (Team points weren’t available for Women’s Freestyle).

In addition to the double winners in the Junior division, there were also several wrestlers victorious in both styles at the Cadet level: Matthew Morris (ATWA, 113 pounds), Freddie Dunau (Technical Edge, 120), Mike Dusold (VHW, 152), Daniel Smith (MVWC, 170) and Joe Nasoni (MVWC, 195).

For full results for Cadet, Junior and Women’s competition, please see the following links: