The lights were dimmed before the wrestlers in the finals of the 13th annual L. Robert “Doc” Fallot Section XI Division II Championships marched into the Center Moriches High School gym to applause from fans, who rose to their feet. Then, as they had done all day — and for four seasons, the Mattituck/Greenport/Southold wrestlers shined.
The Tuckers more than doubled the points total of the second-place team, Center Moriches (318-158), sent 12 wrestlers into the finals and saw seven of them have their arm raised as county champions. What it all amounted to was the Tuckers’ fourth straight Suffolk County team championship.
“It’s still special every single time it happens,” said junior James Hoeg (42-3 for the season and 154-30 for his career), who pinned Bayport-Blue Point’s Jack Donnelly at 2 minutes 40 seconds of the 170-pound final. “We came from not being the greatest team in the world to being at the top four years in a row. It’s definitely special to be a part of it.”
Hoeg and teammate Jack Bokina both picked up their third county titles. Bokina (39-3), a sophomore with a 112-35 career record, did so with a 3-2 decision over Port Jefferson’s Vin Micelli in the 113-pound final.
Tanner Zagarino (38-1), a junior, nailed down his second county title by pinning his 195-pound opponent, Stony Brook’s Harry Hou, in a tidy 43 seconds.
The other Tuckers earning county titles — and a place in the state tournament Feb. 26 and 27 in Albany — were Luke Bokina (106 pounds), Tim Schmidt (182), Charles Zaloom (220) and Chris Schamborn (285).
Luke Bokina, who is Jack’s twin brother, scored an 8-4 decision over Center Moriches’ Donald Wood in their title bout. It brought Luke Bokina’s season record to 40-6. He is 105-28 for his career.
The 182-pound final was an all-Tuckers affair. After Schmidt (31-10) triumphed, 10-4, over teammate Dylan Marlborough, the two embraced.
Zaloom (35-4) won his final handily over Hampton Bays’ Johnny Nolan, 10-4.
Schwamborn pinned Southampton’s Ivan Ochoa at 1:29 of their final.
It was an impressive haul. What is even more impressive is the sense that the Tuckers could have even done better.
“I’m surprised more of us didn’t win [titles], actually,” said Schwamborn.
A few of the Tuckers lost close ones in the finals. Thomas Hoeg was edged by Port Jefferson’s Joe Evangelista, 3-2, at 120 pounds. T.J. Beebe suffered a 6-5 loss to Babylon’s Brett Frole at 132. Frole (31-0) was selected the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler by the coaches. Another heartbreaker was endured by Jake Skrezec, who fell victim to Center Moriches’ Jimmy Lewis, 5-3, in overtime at 160.
Another Tucker, Brian Feeney, was beaten, 7-1, by Port Jefferson’s Rick DeLia in the 99-pound title bout.
The Tuckers also had three runners-up: Stephen Masotti (126), Carmine Vergari (152) and Gage Suglia (170). Three more — Justin Lake (113), Josh Prager (126) and Tom Salice (145) — finished fourth.
“This is the best team that we’ve ever had,” Zagarino said. He added: “We’re supposed to come in here, we’re supposed to dominate and we’re supposed to be the best team. It wasn’t unexpected, but it was definitely a great ride.”
One of the Tuckers who didn’t wrestle, senior Lucas Webb, was overcome by emotion while holding the team’s championship plaque on the podium. Webb, who has over 100 career wins, tore ligaments in his elbow two weeks ago in practice, putting a premature end to his high school career.
It was a poignant moment amid a celebration for a team loaded with talent.
“We’re one of the best teams in Suffolk County, in New York State,” coach Cory Dolson said. “It’s a fact. It might be the strongest team we’ve had, but who knows? Maybe next year we’ll be stronger.”
That’s a chilling thought for opponents, perhaps even more than the 6-degree temperature that was waiting for them outside the building.
Photo caption: Mattituck/Greenport/Southold’s Charles Zaloom, top, had Hampton Bays’ Johnny Nolan in a bind during the 220-pound final. Zaloom was one of the Tuckers’ seven county champions. (Credit: Bill Landon)