By Matt Diano
Photo by Boris V
In a story that we have been waiting two weeks to bring to you, today it is both our distinct honor and privilege to break the news that Half Hollow Hills West senior Tyler Grimaldi has committed to Harvard University. Grimaldi, the #4 rated prospect in the Empire State’s class of 2013 becomes the first student-athlete this recruiting season to select coach Jay Weiss’s Crimson program. He also becomes the second Suffolk County wrestler in less than a week to solidify his future by accepting the invitation to attend an Ivy League institution, joining Sayville’s Matt Leshinger who selected Columbia last Wednesday.
Praised by Hills West Coach, former two-time NCAA Division I All-American Mike Patrovich, as “the entire package,” Tyler enjoyed one of the biggest breakout years in the history of New York State, seemingly seeing his stock rise with each passing week and/or tournament. Mustering a 6th place finish as a sophomore at the Section XI tournament, Grimaldi entered his junior season perhaps a bit overlooked. By the end of the season, his was name that was on the tongues of every coach, recruiter, and NYS wrestling aficionado on the planet. 2012 did not witness this young man get better, it watched him explode, going from the previously cited statistic of sixth in his own section in 2011 to second in New York State as a junior. And, most remarkable of all was that the best was still to come, as Grimaldi would put an exclamation mark on his junior campaign by notching not one, but a pair of All-American honors, finishing fourth in Virginia Beach at the NHSCA Junior National tournament, before making his summer vacation a memorable and rewarding one with a top-6 showing under the Fargo Dome at the USA Wrestling Junior National Freestyle Championships.
Ranked as the #16 wrestler in the land at the 160-pound weight in the latest Flowrestling polls, the individual that Patrovich “built his program around,” has shown himself to be jack of all trades, master of all, as in addition to his keen wrestling prowess, Grimaldi prides himself as being a true scholar, leader, and role model. Positioned near the top of his senior class academically, it was quite apparent the love and respect the student body had for the future Cambridge, Massachusetts resident when they named him to the Homecoming Court earlier this week. It is not an overstatement to say that Tyler genuinely falls into that rare .5 percent of special individuals that one cannot help but root for and embrace.
Pursued by just about every U.S. News & World Report top-25 national university with a wrestling team (#2 Princeton, #4 Columbia, #6 UPenn, #15 Cornell, and #24 Virginia among others), Grimaldi would opt for nothing but the best, choosing the top-ranked school.
In discussing his decision, Tyler said the following about why he felt Harvard was ultimately the best option for him, “What drew me to Harvard, aside from the amazing coaching staff, was that I felt that it was the one place where I could truly make the most of myself in every aspect of life. Both on and off the mat I will be able to accomplish things that most couldn’t even dream of. Ever since I was a little kid I promised myself and my parents that I would go to Harvard and now that dream has finally come to fruition.”
Speaking on behalf of the family, like any proud parent, Grimaldi’s father, Frank, was overtaken by the emotions of such a priceless moment, expressing the following sentiments, “I cannot even express in words the feelings that our family is dealing with. From when Tyler was a baby in my arms, Renee and I dreamed of our son going to Harvard, never in a million years expecting it to actually happen. Tyler is an amazing young man who has made his entire family proud. Our son has worked incredibly hard on the mat, but more importantly in the classroom and into developing into the fine young man he has become. God has truly blessed us. Many thanks to Coach Weiss for believing in Tyler. Also coach Mike Patrovich is the reason why we are talking. He discovered Tyler as an 8th grade football player and molded him into a Harvard student. We could never ever thank him enough.”
Tyler, about as humble and selfless a person as you will ever encounter, echoed his father’s eloquent words, pointing at Patrovich as a primary reason for his success. Addressing the impact of his wrestling mentor, Grimaldi said, “I would be nowhere if it wasn’t for coach Mike Patrovich and his family.”
Projected as either a 157 or 165-pounder on the next level, Grimaldi will join a Crimson squad that is ripe with quality workout partners, including fellow NYer, former 4x New York Champion/2010 NCAA National Champion, J.P. O’Connor, and NCAA All-American Muzaffar Abdurakhmanov who both serve on Weiss’s staff, as well as 2012 blue chip recruit, Devon Gobbo. Just like the 1961 World Series Champion, New York Yankees had their “M&M” boys, the addition of Grimaldi makes one wonder, how soon till the G&G are wrecking havoc on the nation?
Join us at New York Wrestling News in congratulating both Tyler, his family, and the Hills West program on the magnitude of this feat!