Long Beach wrestler Dylan Palacio keeps upping the ante.
First, he won a state title.
Then, he decided to go national.
Palacio defeated three-time Georgia state champion Austin Trott, 6-2, to win the 152-pound championship at the National High School Coaches Association senior nationals last Sunday in Virginia Beach, Va. He became only the second Long Beach wrestler, following Jonathan Masa in 2000, to win a national title. "It's a storybook ending for me," Palacio said. "Long Beach has such a history and legacy, especially with my last name."
Dylan's father and Marines assistant coach, Leo Palacio, won a Nassau championship in 1981. Al Palacio, Dylan's uncle, won three consecutive state championships (1980-82). The evening before his national semifinal match, Al Palacio, who never won a national championship, called his nephew with some encouraging words.
"Twenty-four hours from greatness," he said. "You're that close."
Said Dylan: "At that moment, I knew I had to do it."
Sporting a temporary tattoo that said "family," he went out for the championship match intent on enhancing his legacy. In winning seven matches last weekend, including victories over state champs from Arizona, Minnesota and Oklahoma, he did just that.
"He had a perfect season," Long Beach coach Ray Adams said. "He went after the best competition week in and week out and beat everybody. It's rare that you get a kid who seeks the best all the time."
Despite all of his success this season, Palacio always wrestles with a chip on his shoulder. He said there were doubters and critics on message boards, people who drove him to train harder than ever.
"My dad always tells me, 'be humble but hungry,' " said Palacio, who finished his long season with a 48-0 record. "After states, I knew I left a lot of questions unanswered. A lot of people counted me out and picked other people to win nationals. But I just went out there and showed them how great I was. I wasn't going to stop. I wanted to go out on top."
Long Beach's success at nationals did not end with Palacio. Mark Raghunandan placed fifth at 113 pounds and Krishna Sewkumar took fifth at 106. "To me, it proves that our program is doing the right things as far getting kids ready to compete at nationals and at the next level," Adams said.
Connetquot's Sean McCabe placed second at 120 pounds, and Glenn's James DeKrone took third at 138.
Wantagh's Chris Araoz won the NHSCA junior nationals at 120 pounds.
NHSCA Senior Nationals
Dylan Palacio, Long Beach, 1st place, 152 pounds; Sean McCabe, Connetquot, 2nd, 120; James DeKrone, Glenn, 3rd, 138; Eric Orellana, Brentwood, 3rd, 106; Mark Raghunandan, Long Beach, 5th, 113 ; Krishna Sewkumar, Long Beach, 5th, 106; Jimmy Gill, St. John the Baptist, 7th, 106; Pat Skinner, Kellenberg, 8th, 113
NSCHA Junior Nationals
Chris Araoz, Wantagh, 1st, 120; Tyler Grimaldi, Hills West, 4th, 160; Nick Lupi, Huntington, 4th, 220; Danny McDevitt, Wantagh, 5th, 138; TJ Fabian, SWR, 6th, 120; Chris Koo, GNS, 7th, 152
Maverick Passaro, Eastport-South Manor, 4th, 126