WEST NYACK, N.Y. -- Dylan Palacio still felt like he had something to prove. Never mind that the Long Beach senior went 41-0 and won the Division I state wrestling title at 160 pounds; he had a chance to wrestle New Jersey's finest, and his latest tour de force might have been the loudest statement of his stellar high school career.
Wrestling at 152 pounds Sunday, Palacio pinned undefeated New Jersey state champion Raamiah Bethea of Trenton Central in 5:12 at the New York/New Jersey All-Star Wrestling Challenge at Clarkstown South High. The Long Island contingent went 5-1, as New York held on for the 27-23 win. Shenendehowa's Cole Lampman beat Morris Knolls' Jermaine Eleumenor in the deciding match at 285 pounds, 2-1, in triple overtime.
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The Palacio/Bethea match was the only one to feature two undefeated state champions. "I got the rush before the match," said Palacio, who had the day's only pin and was named Most Outstanding Wrestler. "I knew the match would be straight doubles, everything he had. I have great defense. We fought and fought, and it was one of the best matches of the day."
"After states was over, I did not stop wrestling," Rodriguez said. "Right after states, I started going back to the gym and running. I didn't stop working."
Freshman Nick Piccininni of Ward Melville came back from a 4-0 second period deficit to win a 7-4 decision over JFK-Iselin's Carl Buttitta at 106 pounds.
"Jose is an animal and to follow him up was pretty nice," Piccininni said.
After Kellenberg 113-pounder Pat Skinner lost a 5-0 decision to Seton Hall Prep's Brandon Calas, Connetquot's Sean McCabe and ESM's Maverick Passaro secured decisions at 120 and 126 pounds. Passaro lifted Hunterdon Central's Gary Dinmore off the canvas before slamming him down for the go-ahead takedown with 25 seconds left in the third.
Passaro, a senior who has committed to wrestle at Rutgers, continued the early-meet trend of Long Island wrestlers breaking open tight matches in the final period. "I just kept pushing the pace," Passaro said. "I knew he was gassed, stalling the whole match."
Following the success of the Island's lighter-weight crew, Palacio gladly took center stage. Bethea led 2-1 after two periods, but at the start of the third, he required an injury timeout. Palacio figured he could take advantage of a seemingly fatigued opponent.
Palacio went ahead with a near-pin off an arm bar before finishing off Bethea. His pin gave New York a 21-9 lead, which proved to be too much for New Jersey to overcome.
Following Lampman's win, Palacio thrust himself into the middle of the celebration, lifting the heavyweight above his shoulders.
Palacio and his band of Long Island wrestlers had nothing left to prove.
"People might have said that this lineup was laced with Long Island kids, but why would you have it any other way," Palacio said. "We're the best, and we proved that."
The event will air Monday at 7:30 p.m. on MSG Varsity, iO Channel 14.