Tomasz Filipkowski is all business when he is on the wrestling mat. The Mattituck/Greenport junior doesn’t waste any time. Once the referee blows the whistle to start the proceedings, Filipkowski launches himself immediately into attack mode.
“I always try to attack my opponent, and mentally or physically he just breaks before I do,” Filipkowski said. “Keep attacking. Hopefully it works out.”
So far it has. That approach helped Filipkowski to a Suffolk County Division II title and a win in the New York State tournament last season; he finished with a 29-4 record. Who knows how far it will take him this season?
Filipkowski said he is wrestling smarter this season while at the same time retaining the aggressiveness he is known for. Once again, the results speak for themselves. He has won eight of his first nine matches, six by pins. His sole loss came Saturday in the 170-pound final of the Pin Down MDS Invitational in Berlin, Ct. It was a close one, a 5-3 decision in favor of Joe Murphy of Evon (Ct).
It was the first time Filipkowski wrestled in the 170-pound class. He said he will try to wrestle at 160 for the county tournament like he did last season.
That aside, Filipkowski’s aggressive nature on the mat seems to remain the same. Mattituck/Greenport coach Cory Dolson said it’s good for his younger wrestlers to see.
“You say, ‘Watch Tomasz wrestle’ because the whistle blows and he attacks right away, and he doesn’t stop attacking, which is what you want, what you preach, but it’s hard to get the kids to do it,” Dolson said. “He’s super aggressive on the mat and it really works for him. And he’s got a huge gas tank. He never gets tired.”
Brian Pelan, a sophomore who wrestles at 126 pounds for the Tuckers, said Filipkowski makes an impression on his teammates. “He shoots all the time, in the first 10 seconds,” Pelan said. “They see Tomasz mentally breaking his opponent, and he always gets the offensive edge. You win matches like that.”
Dolson said the important thing for Filipkowski is to set his sights high for this season, beyond another Suffolk Division II championship.
“If his goal this year is to win Division II, in my opinion, that’s not a good goal because he’s supposed to win Division II,” Dolson said. “For him, you don’t want to be the best guy out of 10 teams, you want to be the best guy in the state. He needs to set his goals high and work hard to attain them, and I think that he can.”
Indeed, Filipkowski said he is aiming to be a top finisher in the state. “It’s going good so far,” he said. “I’m trying to work hard for the rest of the season.”
As is the rest of the young Mattituck/Greenport team, which sent three wrestlers to the finals and finished seventh among 13 teams in Saturday’s tournament with 84 points. Mount Anthony Union of Vermont won the team title with 229 points.
Last year Mattituck/Greenport took third place in the tournament, but that was with a different team. Since then the Tuckers have lost seven starters from their lineup and filled three of those spots with junior high school wrestlers. The only senior in the lineup with varsity experience before this season is Richie Koch.
“We’re still climbing that mountain,” Dolson said. “We have a lot of work to do.”
But young wrestlers like Pelan and eighth-grader Tim Schmidt have done well for themselves. They both reached the finals on Saturday.
Pelan lost on a controversial call and was a runner-up for the second year in a row in the tournament. He was tied at 4-4 with Max Flanagan of Daniel Hand (Ct.) in their final bout when Flanagan was awarded a technical point after Pelan was judged to have fled the mat with six seconds to go in the third period. It was only Pelan’s second loss in eight matches.
“I’m excited about Brian,” Dolson said. “He’s the kind of kid any coach wants on the team. He’ll do whatever you ask him to do. He’s always looking for extra workouts. He’s very dedicated, very focused, and he’s only a 10th-grader, so I think he has a very high ceiling.”
Schmidt (4-2), who wrestled at the junior high level last season, reached the 98-pound final before losing to Kyle Linder of New Milford (Ct.) by technical fall, 19-1.
“He’s one of our younger guys that we’re looking to for the future,” Dolson said. “I think it was a good experience for him just to be in the finals even though he kind of got beat up a little bit. Getting to the finals of a tournament is a big step for a kid that young.”
Mattituck/Greenport (4-1, 0-0 League VII) had a couple of other notable performances by sophomore Ryan Bergen (fourth place at 121 pounds) and junior Chris Baglivi (fifth at 182).
“It is a very young team,” Pelan said. “We’ve been surprising ourselves more than I thought.”
If there is one wrestler among them who shouldn’t be a surprise, though, it’s Filipkowski, who is a proven winner. Winning, by the way, is what Filipkowski said he likes best about wrestling.
“The adrenaline rush of winning,” he said. “There’s nothing like the feeling of the ref raising your hand and you beat someone else. It’s kind of cool.”