ALBANY -- The thought of last year's devastating loss in the state finals was never far from Tyler Grimaldi's mind.
"I thought about it all the time and used it as motivation," the Half Hollow Hills West senior said. "It was unfinished business. I had to stay focused to get back to that spot and win it this time."
Grimaldi became the first state wrestling champion in Half Hollow Hills West school history Saturday night when he upended Steve Schneider, 9-3, to capture the title at 160 pounds. The Harvard-bound Grimaldi acknowledged his huge fan base as he rose from the mat in victory pointing into the upper deck at Times Union Center. He improved his record to 45-1.
"This is an outstanding individual who has put it all out there to win the state tournament," Hills West coach Mike Patrovich said.
Brentwood senior Carlos Toribio, who suffered a high ankle sprain earlier this season, came back from the injury and reached the 170-pound final.
Toribio met St. Anthony's John Vrasidas in an action-packed title bout. Toribio had a late takedown and held on for a 4-3 win and the crown. "This is such a great feeling to win the state title," Toribio said.
Syosset's Dan Choi also realized a dream. The senior beat Levi Ashley of Shenendehowa, 7-4, to capture the 195-pound crown. Choi, who started wrestling only three years ago, is 46-2.
He said last year's experience as an alternate in the state tournament was helpful.
Said Syosset coach Mike Murtha: "After his first two matches, I thought he was going to be a state champ. He's a special kid."