SECTION XI DIVISION II CHAMPIONSHIPS
It was a three-peat for Tomasz Filipkowski, but a first for the Mattituck/Greenport wrestling team. First, as in the first Suffolk County championship in the Tuckers’ history.
Mattituck/Greenport captured the team title in the L. Robert “Doc” Fallot Section XI Division II Championships on Saturday night at Center Moriches High School. Thirteen Mattituck/Greenport wrestlers secured places among the top four of their weight class, helping the Tuckers collect 233 1/2 points. The defending champion, Bayport-Blue Point, was second with 203.
After all the individual medals and trophies were presented, the public-address announcer had one final piece of business to attend to in regard to the team scoring. “And now the moment you’ve been waiting for,” he said to the crowd, “the 2013 Suffolk County Division II champions, with 223 1/2 points — Mattituck!”
With that, the loud section of Tuckers fans cheered.
“It’s great, man,” said Mattituck/Greenport coach Cory Dolson, whose team is also the League VII champion. “It feels great for the kids, for everybody involved in the program, from the guys who have been helping with kid wrestling to all the time people spend in the tournaments, to parents. It’s just a testament to all the hard work everyone’s been doing all these years. Everyone takes a part in this championship.”
Six Tuckers were among the parade of finalists who marched into the gym for the title bouts. Three of them emerged as county champions.
Highlighting the individual achievements for Mattituck/Greenport was Filipkowski earning his third straight county title. The senior, wrestling in a county final for the fourth year in a row, pinned a teammate, junior Sal Loverde, at 2 minutes 34 seconds of the 170-pound final.
“I guess it’s pretty rare and a cool thing, but like I said, I’m not a very individual person,” Filipkowski (33-2) said before the final team scores were announced. “I love when my team succeeds. If we win that team title, it would just make my day.”
Filipkowski’s tournament was an abbreviated one. He received a bye into the semifinals, advancing on a pin of Babylon’s Tyler Jacinth at 1:41. For Filipkowski, wrestling against Loverde (19-8) in the final was awkward.
“I really hated it,” he said. “It’s very weird because you’re always taught to want your team member to succeed. … We thought it was kind of comical that we were wrestling each other.”
Chris Baglivi, a senior, and Bobby Becker, a junior, also picked up county crowns.
Along with their county titles, Mattituck/Greenport’s three champions earned the right to advance to the state championships that will be held next Friday and Saturday in Albany.
“It’s a huge deal,” Filipkowski said of the county tournament. “This is it. End of the season. You lose, you’re done; you’re not going to Albany.”
Baglivi (31-1) was in full control of the 195-pound final, scoring an 11-0 major decision over Center Moriches junior William Hamilton (19-9) for his second straight county title.
Afterward, the heavily favored Baglivi said he felt relieved to have secured a return ticket to Albany for the state tournament, something afforded only to county champions. That’s a big part of the pressure of the sectional tournament. It’s either win it all or go home.
“Higher stakes always make it more stressful on the big mat,” Baglivi said. “I knew what I had to do and I went out there and did it.”
Becker (24-12), whose mother Susan was recently diagnosed as having leukemia and watched on from the stands, reached the top of the podium at 138 pounds. After he defeated Port Jefferson junior Tyler D’Accordo, 4-2, Becker, standing on the mat, relayed to his mother the message “I love you” in sign language.
Later, Becker said his mother was speechless.
“I just dedicate my season to her, everything, because she’s the toughest in the world,” said Becker, whose mother’s name was written on his headgear. He also wore orange socks. Orange is the color used to promote leukemia awareness.
Dolson said the team rallied around the Beckers. “It’s funny how out of tragedy sometimes that brings you closer,” he said.
Becker survived a tough bracket. Following a bye and a second-period pin of Center Moriches’ Stephen Maltz, Becker defeated two wrestlers he had lost to earlier in the season. He pinned Luke Zappia of Babylon 59 seconds into overtime and then triumphed over D’Accordo (22-8).
Becker said he didn’t realize he was winning until he looked up at the scoreboard with 16 seconds remaining in the final.
“It’s almost like unreal,” he said. “I wasn’t really watching the score so much. I was in the motion, scrambling and stuff. So, I didn’t even know I was winning.”
Becker repeatedly credited his training partner, junior Brian Pelan, with helping him to his first varsity tournament title of any kind.
“He pretty much carried me there,” Becker said. “If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have made that. He pushed me 10 times harder than I would have pushed myself wrestling with anyone else this whole year.”
Pelan, however, and Mattituck/Greenport’s James Hoeg both lost in their finals. Pelan (19-3) faced a tough opponent at 126 pounds in Stony Brook sophomore Hunter Hulse (34-3). Hulse pulled out a 3-2 decision. Hoeg (26-10), an eighth-grader wrestling at 113 pounds, suffered a 5-3 loss to Center Moriches senior Michael Menzer. Menzer (35-5), a five-time all-county wrestler, received the tournament’s award for the most pins in the least amount of time, three in 2:59.
Mattituck/Greenport received third-place showings by T. J. Beebe (99), Lucas Webb (113), Rodolfo Perez (145) and Anthony Howell (160). Three other Tuckers came in fourth: Jack Bokina (99), Ryan Bergen (132) and James Rugnetta (182).
Mattituck/Greenport took second in last year’s county tournament. This year, though, Dolson sensed the Tuckers had what it took to make team history.
“This year was something special,” he said. “I think we had a good mix, a lot of young guys with a lot of talent. I feel like it was a year we had to take advantage of. We couldn’t let this year slip by.”