Corey Rasheed stepped onto the mat Saturday night in front of a raucous crowd with only one more wrestler in between him and his goal of winning a state championship. It was a familiar spot for Rasheed, a junior from Longwood. In 2009 he finished second at 96 pounds as a seventh-grader.
As a freshman he finished fifth in the state at 112 pounds and last year he made it back to the state final -- at 138 pounds -- only to fall just short again.
There was no stopping Rasheed in 2013. The lanky junior finished off his 34-0 season in impressive fashion, pinning Nassau County champion Chris Koo in just 56 seconds in the 152-pound final.
"I stepped on there and I thought, 'how many times have I lost on this mat already? It's time to change it,' " Rasheed said. "I even wore a different singlet so I wouldn't be cursed or something."
With the way Rasheed has been wrestling, the singlet would not have made a difference. Koo was the second wrestler to be pinned in under a minute by Rasheed in the tournament. He also secured a technical fall in the quarterfinals and won, 5-0, over Daniel DeCarlo of Port Jervis in the semifinals.
"The kid just works so hard and he always had that in his mind -- he would just not stop until he got that state title," Longwood coach Matt DiSciullo said. "And he's only a junior so he's coming back for more next year."
It was the culmination of years of hard work and focusing on one goal.
"I came into this tournament only thinking the whole year about states," Rasheed said. "I haven't thought about any other tournament. In my first round match I was thinking about the finals . . . I know you're not supposed to do that but I've been here so many times and I was just so excited. It was to the point that I didn't even know what I was feeling."
That feeling was finally being a state champion. With nationals a goal during the spring and summer and his senior year still remaining, it will be surprising not to see Rasheed accomplish it all and have his hand raised in Albany again next year.