In depth: wrestlers to watch
LONG BEACH | SENIOR
Long Beach's Dylan Palacio refuses to make excuses for past failures. He did not win a state title last season, finishing third at 145 pounds, and puts the blame squarely on his shoulders.
“To me, it's about mental preparation,” Palacio said. “The past two years, I was the best guy at my weight class. I just didn't prove it when it mattered most.”
Palacio will move up to 152 pounds after a spring and summer wrestling in national tournaments against some of the nation's best. In April, he placed fourth at the NHSCA Juniors Tournament in Virginia Beach.
“This year, I've been everywhere,” Palacio said. “I've been seeking out the best guys all over the state and country.”
The 2011-12 season, though, is about adding that state championship, the one trophy conspicuously missing from his trophy case.
“That's his goal, hands down,” Long Beach coach Ray Adams said. "He’s got tunnel vision. He has been close twice before, but for one reason or another, he has come up short. He knows this year is it.”
GLENN | SENIOR
Glenn's James DeKrone cannot switch gears. Whether it's on the mat or attempting to beat his teammates in wind sprints, DeKrone is a one-man motivator.
“His ability to push other people is remarkable,’’ Glenn coach T.J. Brocking said. “If you're his partner during practice, you better be ready to go hard for those two hours.”
DeKrone is the defending Suffolk champion at 130 pounds and placed second at the state championship. His only two defeats last season came at the hands of the now-graduated Steven Rodrigues of Fox Lane HS.
On Dec. 10, he won the Bethpage Dad's Club Tournament at 145 pounds, although he likely will settle in at 138.
“The two losses to Rodrigues were real tough,” Brocking said. “Both losses were by a single point. He has used it as motivation. He has been a great team leader and has done everything he can to get better.”
ST. ANTHONY’S | SENIOR
Jamel Hudson used to skate by on pure athleticism, using a combination of speed and physicality to dominate opponents.
In his third year at St. Anthony's since transferring from Bay Shore, Hudson says he has turned a corner, physically and mentally. A singer, dancer and performance artist who headlined a one-man show at the Town Hall of Islip this past summer, Hudson temporarily has put his stage ambitions on hold.
Rutgers, Hofstra, Old Dominion and NYU are among the schools that have shown interest in the multi-talented senior.
“This season is really important," Hudson said. “Last year, I don't know if I peaked, but I had some great competition. This year is my time to come in and take it by the bullhorns.’’
Hudson is among the favorites to win states at 132 pounds. He lost three times last season, all to boys who went to place at the state championship. After a successful offseason tournament slate, Hudson is ready to take center stage.
“He has pretty much beaten everybody, and he is mentally and physically at another level,’’ Friars coach Tony Walters said. “A lot of the guys are playing catch-up with him.”
“He keeps getting better.”