What's the Recruiting Experience Like? A State Champion's Perspective (Part 2)


Last Monday was July 1, the first day that college coaches can contact members of the Class of 2014. What is it like for high schoolers and their families during the recruiting process?  We asked Harvard-bound Tyler Grimaldi and his father Frank to share their experiences.  

Last week, we posted Part 1 of this article. To read about the beginning of the recruiting process, the craziness of July 1 and the phone and mail contact from schools all over the country, see Part 1 of this article.

The second part of the story begins below:

Narrowing Down the Field

Tyler Grimaldi: As important as wrestling is, school comes first.  Always has. Based on academics, I started to narrow the list down.

Frank Grimaldi: When we saw a lot of Ivies were interested, we put others on the backburner.  All along, we’ve talked about how wrestling is a means to an end. Tyler loves to wrestle; he lives for wrestling. But he knows that success on the mat will help him in life.  He had a very high average; high test scores. But that by itself doesn’t get you into some of the best schools.  We decided that it was time to take some unofficial visits.

So in the summer, it was off to a number of campuses across the Northeast to get a closer look – including Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Hofstra, Penn and Princeton.  He walked around the schools, met the coaches and teams and tried to get a feel for the environment at each place.

Tyler Grimaldi: I didn’t know anything about the college experience or being a college wrestler. I went in with an open mind.  It was such a new world for me. I was looking for a place to grow as an athlete, a student and a person.  I wanted to find the place that would mold me into the person I want to be.

His trip to Harvard was eye opening.  Ironically, Tyler said the Crimson staff didn’t contact him early in the recruiting period, as he said head coach Jay Weiss first reached out in August.

Frank Grimaldi: On the trip to Harvard, we sat down with Coach Weiss and Coaches [JP] O’Connor and [Muzaffar] Abdurakhmanov. We talked for three hours, but not one second was about wrestling.  Before we went on the tour, he reinforced that he doesn’t do negative recruiting; doesn’t talk about other programs.

Grimaldi, Photo by BV

The visits went in both directions, as Grimaldi not only made trips to colleges, but several coaches traveled to his home in Dix Hills.  Frank Grimaldi talked about how great it was to “have these amazing coaches in my kitchen for three or four hours.”

Frank Grimaldi: The unofficial visits absolutely helped narrow it down.  He set up five official visits.  He went to Harvard first and loved it.  Then he went to Princeton next and loved it.  After that, he said he didn’t want to go on any other visits because he wanted to go to one of those places.

Decision Time

Frank Grimaldi: With it down to Harvard and Princeton, I told him I couldn’t give him a hint of what to do.  I didn’t want to push him one way or another and have him regret the decision.  The decision was all his. He couldn’t lose either way. His guidance counselor felt the same way. She asked him, ‘If you could never wrestle another day in your life, where would you rather go to school?’ Three hours later, he told me his decision was made.

Tyler Grimaldi: When I was in sixth grade, I told my parents I wanted to go to Harvard.  Originally, I didn’t think they were interested in me.  But after Fargo [Grimaldi took sixth at 160 in Freestyle], we talked and really hit it off. I still was torn between Harvard and Princeton, though. My relationship with coach Weiss was the deciding factor. I saw him as a second father figure.  He stays in touch with all the people he’s coached and he develops us as wrestlers and people. I had a different kind of connection with Coach Weiss. I feel like he knows what’s best for me.

A week or two after making his choice, Grimaldi got a “likely letter” from Harvard, indicating that his chances of being admitted were high.  In October, he received a call that he had been accepted on what was “one of the coolest nights ever” according to Frank Grimaldi.

The Hardest Part – By Far

Having a final decision meant a lot of good things for Grimaldi and his family.  Contacting all the other coaches who had been recruiting him was not one of them.

Tyler Grimaldi: That was the worst part of the whole process; by far the worst.  It was horrible.  All of those coaches went out of their way for me, came to my house, took a lot of time with me. I felt really bad.  But you know what? Most of the coaches were very cool about it.  They wished me the best and told me the door was always open if something changed.

Any Advice?

Frank Grimaldi:  My advice would be to talk to everybody you can.  Take good notes and understand that it is a business.  You have to understand that you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread when you talk to some coaches, but they’re saying the same things to other people.  They have a numbers game – they have a list of wrestlers they really want, a list that they’ll settle for and a list they’ll take if they have to in order to fill numbers.  You have to figure out where you are in the pecking order.  I was kind of shocked at the response of one of the coaches when Tyler told him his decision. It’s a business, but when it’s the business of your son, you take it personally.  At the end of the day, it’s a great process, a great ride.  There were so many great people and great opportunities that Tyler couldn’t have made a bad decision.

Tyler Grimaldi: One thing I learned is that there’s no opportunity that’s too small.  Keep all of your doors open and don’t close off anything right away. Hear everyone out and listen carefully because you might find a gem in a program you never imagined.

Also, enjoy the opportunities you get from the process.  I loved taking the visits and seeing the schools.  It was amazing to learn more about what it takes to compete on the mat and in the classroom at a high level.  I got to tour parts of the country and see places I’ve never seen.  You’re made to feel really important and that’s a lot of fun. It’s a great experience.

The Road Ahead

Now, the new challenges commence. As Frank Grimaldi said, “All [Tyler] has so far is admission to Harvard, and while that’s great, he knows he’s not guaranteed anything from here.”

Tyler expects to begin as a 157-pounder but may see 165 down the road.  In the classroom, he will likely concentrate in biology or psychology as he hopes to attend medical school in the future.   He experienced quite a bit in past year and will no doubt experience a whole lot more.

“From July through October, it was a whirlwind of calls, mail, visits and discussions,” Frank Grimaldi said. “It was quite a ride. In the end, I’m the happiest person in the world with the way it worked out.”


A Wrestler's Perspective: Tyler Grimaldi's "Whirlwind" Journey through the Recruiting Process (Part 1)

What is it like to be a top wrestler entering his final year of high school?  The recruiting process is “out of a movie” and a “whirlwind”, according to Harvard-bound Tyler Grimaldi, a 2013 state champion from Half Hollow Hills West High School, and his father Frank.  With July 1 marking the beginning of the official recruiting period for the Class of 2014, we asked the Grimaldis to share some insights on what they experienced as Tyler made his college choice.  

This is part 1 of a two-part article.

 The Beginning

The story of the recruitment of Tyler Grimaldi goes back to the summer of 2011, when he competed at the Junior Freestyle National championships in Fargo, North Dakota between his sophomore and junior years.

Grimaldi, Photo by BV

Frank Grimaldi: At Fargo, Tyler was coached by Columbia’s Carl Fronhofer. Tyler decided to take an unofficial visit to Columbia during his junior year and after he finished second in the state that year [2012], Coach Fronhofer talked to [Hills West coach Mike] Patrovich with a lot of interest. I was ecstatic; I thought it was the greatest thing in the world.  I thought Columbia would be a great place for Tyler.  I sat down with a friend and Tyler’s coaches and they were excited too.  They told me it was awesome; amazing.  But they also told me that we should go through the process fully.  They said, ‘Just wait until July. A lot more will show interest then.’”

Grimaldi continued to bolster his resume, earning All-America honors at the NHSCA Junior Nationals in Virginia Beach where he took fourth at 160 pounds in April (2012).  College coaches definitely took notice.

Frank Grimaldi: In Virginia Beach, it was the quarterfinal round and Tyler was about to wrestle. One of Tyler’s buddies was close to the mat and he was telling me that he almost got knocked over by someone trying to get to the match.  It was really cool – because I saw who it was.  It was [an Ivy league assistant coach], who had run almost across the entire convention center to watch Tyler.  It was really cool to watch.”

 July 1, 2012

Many know that July 1 is the big day when the first official calls and visits can occur.  But the Grimaldis admitted that what happened during that 24 hours was beyond their imagination.

Tyler Grimaldi: It was totally different than I expected. I expected a couple of calls.  What happened was straight out of a movie.  You wake up and your phone doesn’t stop ringing. Some were from schools I e-mailed with before [Grimaldi said he e-mailed coaches as a junior to introduce himself to programs he might be interested in], but some were from schools and coaches I never even heard of or schools I had no idea had any interest in me.  I really felt like I was in a movie.

Frank Grimaldi:  It was a Sunday and it started at about 9:30 a.m. By the end of the night, Tyler had received more than 25 phone calls.  It continued on Monday.  It was a dream come true. I couldn’t imagine it. It was everything from DI powers to D3 schools to Junior Colleges. It got really, really crazy.  Tyler talked to everyone and listened to what they had to say. We would sit down after each call and write down what the coach said, maybe do some research on the school.

The phone interactions continued throughout the summer.  NCAA rules stipulate that schools can only call once every seven days and for the most part, that’s exactly what they did.

 And It Continues . . .

Tyler Grimaldi: Most coaches would call every week on the dot – same exact time. I wasn’t used to it – all these people calling and pulling in different directions.  They wanted to know what my thought process was and where I stood. It became stressful at times.

Frank Grimaldi: The first calls came on that first Sunday.  Some continued to call on Sunday and some switched to another day, but it was pretty much every seven days throughout the summer.

It wasn’t just calls, however.  The postal service saw a big increase of activity at the Grimaldi house as well.

Frank Grimaldi: The mailbox filled up almost every day and so did the school mailbox.  It was like Christmas morning, every morning.

Tyler Grimaldi: There was a lot of mail, and to be honest, I read every single recruiting letter. It made me feel really good to have all those schools gunning for me. A lot of it was pretty basic, asking me to fill out questionnaires or information on the school.  Some was more personal.  Cornell’s stood out – they had some funny letters and some hand written, personal ones specific to me.

Frank Grimaldi estimated that around 75 programs contacted his son during the process, with at least 40 of them doing so by phone.

Tyler Grimaldi: It was pretty overwhelming at first. The big thing is that we didn’t close off anything early on.  I wanted to hear what all the options were.

Frank Grimaldi: There were many different opportunities. One school said with the classes he was taking in high school, he could come in as a sophomore [academically] and wrestle four years and get a redshirt year.  That way, he’d graduate in three years and have two years of grad school or med school paid for.  Everybody was offering different things – there were different packages and scholarships. Some of that was incredibly tempting.  In the end, I told Tyler that he needed to figure out what college he wanted to go to; what was right for him, and we’d figure out the next steps from there.

One of those key next steps was narrowing down the field to a handful of schools.  How that occurred and the rest of Tyler Grimaldi’s recruiting story is at Link to Part 2 of the article.

Weekend Results Roundup – Binghamton Open, Oklahoma Gold, Michigan State Open and Hofstra Duals

It was a busy weekend for the New York Division I college teams.  Binghamton and Cornell competed at the Binghamton Open, while  Army and Buffalo took part in the Oklahoma Gold event.  Meanwhile, Columbia and Hofstra went to the Midwest, with the Lions wrestling at the Michigan State Open and the Pride taking on two Big 10 teams in dual meets.  The results are below.

Binghamton Open

The host Binghamton Bearcats crowned three champions at the West Gym on Sunday – Joe Bonaldi (141), Donnie Vinson (149) and Nate Schiedel (197) in a tournament that featured over 300 wrestlers. Also placing for Binghamton was Tyler Deuel, who was fourth at heavyweight.

New York also featured two other titlewinners – Cornell’s Nahshon Garrett at 125 and Finger Lakes Wrestling Club’s Brian Realbuto at 157.

Additional medalists for Cornell were: Bricker Dixon (fourth at 125), Nick Arujau (fourth at 133), Joe Stanzione (second at 141), Mike Nevinger (fourth at 141), Jesse Shanaman (sixth at 157), Duke Pickett (fourth at 174), Marshall Peppelman (sixth at 174), Craig Scott (second at 184), Billy George (fourth at 197), Jace Bennett (sixth at 197) and Stryker Lane.

In addition to Realbuto’s crown, the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club put the following wrestlers on the podium – Mark Grey (second at 133), Gabe Dean (fourth at 184) and Oney Snyder (at 285).

For full brackets see here

For video coverage see this link

Columbia Earns Three Titles at the Michigan State Open

The Columbia Lions were led by three champions at the Michigan State Open.  Steve Santos (149), Jake O’Hara (157) and Steve West (174) kicked off the 2012-13 campaign with the titles.  Also making the podium for the Lions were Chad Ryan, who was fourth at 157 and Nick Mills who earned fifth at 197.

Hofstra Drops Pair of Duals on Opening Weekend

Hofstra traveled to Big 10 country, taking on Minnesota and Wisconsin on the road to open the campaign.  The Gophers topped the Pride on Friday night before the Badgers earned a five-point dual win on Sunday.  For full stories, please see gohofstra.com.  The box scores are below:

#25 Wisconsin 18, #16 Hofstra 13
125 lbs.: #4 Steve Bonanno (HU) maj. dec. Matt Cavallaris (UW), 12-3
133 lbs.: #15 Jamie Franco (HU) dec. Tom Kelliher (UW), 9-7 in OT
141 lbs.: #3 Tyler Graff (UW) dec. #13 Luke Vaith (HU), 5-3
149 lbs.: Cole Schmitt (UW) dec. Matt Spataro (HU), 3-0
157 lbs.: Tyler Banks (HU) dec. Alex Yde (UW), 6-2
165 lbs.: Frank Cousins (UW) dec. Nick Terdick (HU), 9-7
174 lbs.: Jermaine John (HU) dec. Scott Liegel (UW), 3-2
184 lbs.: Dylan Iczkowski (UW) dec. Taras Luzhnyy (HU), 8-5
197 lbs.: Jackson Hein (UW) dec. Victor Pozsonyi (HU), 12-5
285 lbs.: Cole Tobin (UW) vs. Paul Snyder (HU), 4-3

#3 Minnesota 32, #16 Hofstra 6
125 – #11 David Thorn (UM) WBF #4 Steve Bonanno (HU), 3:00
133 – #6 Chris Dardanes (UM) dec. #15 Jamie Franco (HU), 9-5
141 – #13 Luke Vaith (HU) dec. #7 Nick Dardanes (UM), 6-4
149 – Matt Spataro (HU) dec. Tom Giamo (UM), 5-4
157 – Seth Lange (UM) dec. Tyler Banks (HU), 3-1 in SV
165 – #10 Cody Yohn (UM) tech fall Nick Terdick (HU), 15-0
174 – #6 Logan Storley (UM) maj. dec. Jermaine John (HU), 12-1
184 – #4 Kevin Steinhaus (UM) maj. dec. Taras Luzhnyy (HU), 10-0
197 – #11 Scott Schiller (UM) maj. dec.  Victor Pozsonyi (HU), 14-4
285 – #1 Tony Nelson (UM) dec. Paul Snyder (HU), 6-3

Oklahoma Gold (at Brockport)

Three New York teams competed at this year’s tournament, with Army taking third, Buffalo fifth and Brockport sixth.  (Oklahoma was the team champion).

The Black Knights were led by a trio of second place finishers – Daniel Young (149), Collin Wittmeyer (184) and Bryce Barnes (197) and a pair of bronze medalists – Jordan Thome (133) and Tyler Rauenzahn (141).

The Bulls also had a number of top three finishers, with Andrew Schutt grabbing second at 141 and Wally Maziarz (157), Angelo Malvestuto (197) and Justin Heiserman (285) taking third.

For full brackets see here


Going Ivy: All-American Tyler Grimaldi of Half Hollow Hills West Commits to Harvard


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!