This weekend the 7th Annual Pinning Down Autism: Team New York vs. Team New Jersey All-Star Dual-Meet is scheduled to take place at Joseph Regional High School in Montvale, New Jersey. Many outstanding individuals that competed in this event have gone on to have great careers beyond their prep days.
Here are seven individuals that have accomplished great things in the international and collegiate stage. Perhaps some of those wrestling this weekend will add to this list.
B.J. Clagon of Toms River South, New Jersey
Currently a junior at Rider University, Clagon was a two-time state champion as a prep wrestler that compiled a 155-6 record. He also made history at the NHSCA tournament as he was one of only three wrestlers ever to achieve the task of winning the event four times. In 2015, he became the first Rider student-athlete to earn All-American honors as a freshman in any sport as he placed fifth at 149-pounds. Clagon is a three-time Eastern Wrestling League medalist and three-time Div. I National Qualifier; including finishing in the round of 12 this season at 157-pounds.
Nick Gwiazdowski of Duanesburg, New York
As a prep wrestler, Gwiazdowski was the top heavyweight recruit in the nation. He won two consecutive New York state titles and went 50-0 his senior season and was triumphant at FloNationals. As a collegiate wrestler, he was a four-time Div. I All-American and two-time national champion. He shattered many ACC records as he became the third wrestler from the conference to win multiple NCAA titles and was named ACC Wrestler of the Year two consecutive years.
James Green of Willingboro, New Jersey
Green was a one-time New Jersey state and NHSCA champion that went on to compete for the University of Nebraska. He competed in the 2011 event where he defeated Dylan Palacio, 6-3. While competing for the Huskers, Green was a four-time Big Ten place winner and champion in 2014. Green was also a rare four-time Div. 1 All-American as he placed seventh, seventh, third, and third for the Huskers. In 2015, Green won bronze at the World Wrestling Championships in Men’s Freestyle at 70 kg in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nick Piccininni of Ward Melville, New York
The New York native competed at the Pinning Down Autism All-Star Dual between New York and New Jersey three times, 2012-14. He went 3-0 in the years he participated in the event and helped Team New York defeat Team New Jersey in 2012 and 2013. This past season he became OSU’s 35th freshman to garner All-American honors as he finished fourth in the 125-weight class.
Dylan Palacio of Long Beach, New York
This former New York state champion and three-time state medalist competed in the inaugural event in 2011 as well as in 2012. After graduating from Long Beach, Palacio went on to compete for Div. I and EIWA power, Cornell University. He was a four-time Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association finalist and two-time champion. Palacio was also a two-time All-American (fourth and sixth) and completed his collegiate career with an 81-20 record.
Ethan Ramos of Hawthorne, New Jersey
The native of Hawthorne was a 2013 state and FloNationals champion. He participated in this event in 2013 where he defeated his opponent from New York, 5-4. Upon graduating from Hawthorne, he began competing for the University of North Carolina. In 2015, he earned Div. I All-American status as he placed sixth in the national tournament. He is a three-time national qualifier and will be a senior next season for the Tar Heels.
Steven Rodrigues of Fox Lane, New York
During his prep career, Rodrigues was a New York state champion and Fargo All-American. He participated in the Pinning Down Autism All-Star Dual between New York and New Jersey in 2011 where he major decisioned his New Jersey opponent, 13-4. Rodrigues went on to compete for the University of Illinois where he was a two-time NCAA qualifier and a 2016 All-American.