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: