Half Hollow Hills West coach Joe Scholz had trouble putting his finger on it. When asked to describe what makes sophomore Dylan Ryder — his star wrestler at 99 pounds — such a dominant force, he took a moment before stating that Ryder simply has “it.”
“Whatever that X-factor is, he has it,” Scholz said shortly after Ryder pinned Deer Park’s Preston Maucere in 1:38.
In front of a capacity crowd at Hofstra in the Division I wrestling championships on Sunday, Ryder won his first Suffolk title and punched his ticket to the state tournament at Times Union Center in Albany on Feb. 26-27.
“The work ethic, the attitude, the mindset that no one’s going to beat him . . . he has that,” Scholz said. “He has those intangibles.”
Ryder, who improved to 40-1, faced Maucere twice earlier this season and defeated him 6-4 and 7-0. “I knew he was going to come out stronger and want to get some revenge,” Ryder said.
When Ryder got his opponent on his back, he didn’t hesitate. “Right in that moment, I knew when I got him on his back, I had the chance to stick him,” Ryder said. “I wanted to stick him to prove a point.’’
His point was simple: that despite missing all of last season with an ACL tear, despite having to grind through every inch of his comeback, he was back to 100 percent, and then some.
“It was a rough thing to come back from,” Ryder said. “But I wouldn’t let it stop me. I knew that I was going to come back stronger than ever.”
Scholz has never encountered a wrestler with a more potent combination of skill, athleticism and passion for his craft.
“In my career,” Scholz said, “he’s probably the once-in- a-lifetime kid that I’ll coach.”
In the 99-pound championship bout in Nassau, Plainedge sophomore Jared Altan displayed a similar perseverance in reaching the top of the podium. He won by a 6-3 decision over Pablo Martinez of Long Beach after a shoulder injury last year forced him to miss more than half the season.
“I just put in the hours I needed to,” Altan said. “Whatever it took, just because I love to wrestle.”
And now he’s headed upstate.
“Honestly,” Altan said, “I can’t even describe the feeling.”