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In the sport of wrestling, a sport of patience and perseverance and tolerance of pain, Tod Giles has persevered more than just about any wrestler in Rockland County history. Although he did not reach the pinnacle of amateur sport, the Olympic Games – Charles Strack of Nyack, a 1928 Olympian, is the only Rockland wrestler to climb that peak – Giles can be justifiably proud of his enduring body of work while striving to attain the Olympic ideal.

The 1980 Ramapo High School graduate parlayed the lessons learned under Coach Tom Canty into a sterling two-decade portfolio of success at every level. Twice he was in contention for an Olympic berth and twice he came tantalizingly close to his goal.
In the 1996 U.S. Greco-Roman Olympic Trials, competing at 180.5 pounds, Giles finished third, which means he was second alternate to the Olympic team. And eight years earlier, in the 1988 Greco-Roman Olympic Trials, competing at 198 pounds, he finished fourth (despite wrestling with a dislocated collarbone), thus becoming the third alternate to the Olympic team. That same year, he defeated two-time world champion Vladimir Popov of the Soviet Union en route to winning the Haparanda Cup in Sweden.

The life of an elite wrestler is one of physical hardship and health maintenance; injuries are an almost inevitable byproduct of such rigorous one-on-one contact. Like other grapplers, Giles has had his share – bulging neck disk, broken foot, dislocated collarbone, other ailments – but each time he was able to overcome the setback and re-establish his presence on the national level.

Three times Giles finished second in the U.S. Greco-Roman National Championships, competing at 198 pounds in 1988 and 1989, and at 187 pounds in 1997. All told, he is a nine-time place-winner at the World Championship team trials and a seven-time place-winner at the GrecoÂRoman National Championships. Furthermore, he’s a five-year Team USA member; four-time member of the U.S. Marine Corps All-Marine wrestling team; and the 1988 World Military Games freestyle champion.

At Ramapo, wrestling at 177 pounds, Giles was a two-time New York State place-winner – third his senior year and sixth his junior year; a two-time Section 9 (Rockland, Orange, Ulster, Sullivan counties) and two-time Rockland County champion; and a two-time runner-up in the Empire State Games scholastic division. He also was a second-team All-County running back in football twice for the Gryphons and competed in track as well. At Boston University (he wrestled his freshman year at Rhode Island), Giles became the school’s first All-America wrestler, achieving the feat in his senior year, 1984, at 190 pounds. He was a four-time New England Conference tournament titlist and four-time NCAA qualifier, and also won an Empire State Games gold medal in the open division while a student at BU.

Giles felt an obligation early in his career to give back to the sport that has given him so much. In 1985-86, as a 23-year-old, he was head coach of the combined Spring ValleyjRamapo (East Ramapo) wrestling team. He follow that up with stints as assistant coach at BU, Georgia State, East Ramapo again and Army, followed by a two-year head-coaching assignment at Army. As a U.S. Marine, he earned a National Defense medal for his involvement in Operation Desert Storm. Giles, who is 39, and his wife, Leonie, reside in Harriman in Orange County. They are expecting their first child in July.