His singlet once belonged to his uncle, former Long Beach wrestler Al Palacio, the same singlet he wore while winning his third straight state championship in 1982.
Dylan Palacio had twice placed at the state tournament, but after three Nassau titles in four years, he paid his uncle the ultimate tribute by winning an 11-4 decision over Half Hollow Hills West's Tyler Grimaldi in the 160-pound Division I state final at Times Union Center Saturday.
"I poured my heart out for this sport in hopes that I would get my dream, that I would stand on that blue podium on that number spot," Palacio said. "A lot of times I doubted myself, and a lot of people doubted me, but I just persevered. I never let the words touch me."
The one-point loss he suffered to Rocky Point's Matt Ross in a 145-pound state semifinal last year became a seasonlong sore spot.
"Ever since that match, his thought process was that he was going to win," Marines coach Ray Adams said.
Added Palacio, "I started training the very next day."
Palacio began this season at 152, and when he defeated defending state champion Brian Realbuto at the Eastern States tournament in January, he became the man to beat. Soon after the Realbuto win, he moved up to 160, sick and tired of cutting those last few pounds.
Realbuto went on to win the 152 state title, and Palacio followed with a wire-to-wire win. "It's a surreal moment that I'll never forget," Palacio said. "I was outsized and outweighed, but I wasn't out-talented and I wasn't out-hearted."
When Palacio came out to the mat, Uncle Al sat in the stands, surprised that his nephew would pay homage to his wrestling past. When he donned the singlet, he weighed 112 pounds. Somehow his nephew, 48 pounds heavier, managed the tight squeeze. "I was surprised that he fit into it," Al Palacio said. "But he looked good."
Ward Melville freshman Nick Piccininni won the 106 title and capped his perfect season at 45-0 with a 4-2 win over MacArthur's Justin Cooksey.
The two-point margin was his narrowest win of the season. "I'm not satisfied with this," Piccininni said. "I'm coming back and winning it again and working hard every single season to do that."
Eastport-South Manor's Maverick Passaro (50-3) rode a third-period reversal to edge Sam Speno of Fox Lane in the 126 final, 2-1. Speno appeared to try and run and out the clock with a 1-0 lead, but the referee failed to warn him for stalling. Once Passaro scored the reversal with 45 seconds left, he decided to a take a page from Speno's playbook. "Once I got my reversal, I knew I could just do the same thing to him," Passaro said. "The refs knew that, too, because I didn't get called for stalling, either."