It's 5:30 in the morning and the sound of clanking metal is coming from the workout room at Half Hollow Hills as Tyler Grimaldi prepares for his next wrestling meet.
Grimaldi works out everyday for two hours before school starts, and after it ends. His demanding schedule pays off. The 160-lbs wrestler made district history this year, when he broke the record for the most wins, and he recently celebrated his 100th victory (and counting). He is the number one wrestler in Suffolk County and is currently ranked third in New York State.
His resume is one that young wrestlers strive for during their entire athletic career, but Grimaldi is only a junior. He says his success on the mat is all due to the hard work he puts in behind the scenes.
"Before I go into a match, the first thing I do is say a prayer," he said. "Then I believe I'm going to win because I know that I did one more work out than he did. I go in thinking that I'm the best because I've prepared to be the best."
Preparing for greatness is a lesson he's learned from his coach, Mike Patrovich, whose guidance Grimaldi has been under since he joined the varsity team, when he was still in the eighth grade.
Grimaldi doesn't have a signature move, but he does have his own state of mind: kick butt.
"When I go on the mat, I’m going to dominate. I just keep attacking, tire the kid out and then enforce my will," he said.
A big part of what draws Grimaldi to wrestling is its low-key nature.
"It's not a flashy sport. You don't have crowds of people jumping up cheering when you score a goal. You do it for yourself," he said. " I love how as much as you give, you get the same amount back. It's a very fair sport."
Grimaldi doesn't leave his work ethic at the gym door either. His goal to be number one translates to the classroom as well.
"Our coach tells us to be the best at whatever you do and when it comes to school, my mom encourages me to study a lot. There's no such thing as second place," he said.
His success on the mat and in the classroom has sparked interest from some of the top universities in the nation including Columbia, Johns Hopkins, Duke and Princeton. He hasn't given his official word to any of them yet.
This weekend he will compete in the Eastern States' Championship Tournament, where he plans to continue his winning streak.
"I’m excited and focused on training. I know I can beat anybody," he said.