For Dylan Ryder, whose wrestling repertoire includes dozens of skillful maneuvers, this was the next logical move.
The junior from Half Hollow Hills West had breezed through the regular season, winning 41 of 42 matches in the 106-pound weight class, including the Suffolk and state Division I titles. He became only the second Colt ever to win a state crown. But before his name could be added to the wall of honor in the Hills West wrestling room under “state champions,” Ryder added another honor.
With his parents, Roy and Paris Ryder, and his high school coach, Joe Scholz, in attendance, Ryder won all five matches at the National High School Coaches Association Junior National tournament last Sunday at the Convention Center in Virginia Beach. For winning Hills West’s first wrestling national title, Ryder is Newsday’s Athlete of the Week.
“It was a great moment to win a national tournament with my parents there,” said Ryder, a humble kid who often is teased by his coaches and teammates for not celebrating his victories. “My parents have been a big support system my entire wrestling career, bringing me across the country to tournaments and events. That has helped me get better every day.”
Ryder dominated in Virginia Beach. According to Scholz, he won his first match on a technical fall, pinned his second opponent, won his semifinal matches by scores of 7-1 and 9-5, and defeated the nation’s No. 8 wrestler, 11-4, in the final. “He was pretty controlling the whole match,” Scholz said. “The new rankings came out [Wednesday] and Dylan was still behind that kid at No. 15. I called up the guy who does the rankings. Dylan should be in the top 10 in the country.”
Ryder’s latest cluster of one-sided matches simply followed a season-long pattern. Scholz said Ryder allowed only six points all season before the national tournament, and didn’t get taken down until the national semifinals. Asked if he has a signature move, Ryder grinned modestly and said, “No, I have a big variety of techniques and moves that I use and that’s what I go with. It works out pretty well.”
Ryder said he prides himself on outworking every opponent. “Ever since I start wrestling in the third grade, I trained myself to keep going, to break through the wall,” he said. “When I’m in matches, I know that as it gets later, I’ll keep going strong every second of the match.”
Scholz offered this scouting report of his prodigy. “He’s strong. He doesn’t give you an inch. That’s his mentality. He’ll grind out matches and he’s the most technically sound kid I’ve ever coached. He’s a goer — he goes all out from the first whistle to the last. I’ve never seen him tired. He’s a once in a lifetime kid.”