The Mattituck/Greenport/Southold high school wrestling team has never produced a state champion. Coach Cory Dolson and his wrestlers think it’s high time that has changed.
The time for action will be Friday and Saturday when the top wrestlers in New York State assemble in the electric atmosphere of the Times Union Center in Albany for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships. Among them will be seven Tuckers. It will be the second time during Dolson’s 10 years in charge of the team that the Tuckers will have sent that many wrestlers to the state tournament. They also did so in 2014.
To date, though, the Tuckers not only have never had a state champion, but they have never had a state finalist. Louis Troisi went further than any Tucker has gone before in 2007 when he came in third. Jack Bokina came close to matching that last year with a fourth-place finish.
Since the start of preseason training, the talk among the Tuckers has been breaking through that barrier. It was discussion that Dolson encouraged.
“We’ve been talking about it all year from the beginning of the year to the end of the year, but you got to talk about it first for it to be real,” he said.
Bokina (39-3), a sophomore, and James Hoeg (42-3), a junior, will be making their third appearance in the state tournament. Bokina has a 112-35 career record, and Hoeg is 154-30 for his career. It will be the second time for junior Tanner Zagarino (39-1), who also has over 100 career wins.
“There’s no surprises when those guys go up there,” Dolson said. “They’ve been there before. They know the drill.”
All three received No. 2 seeds in the tournament — Bokina at 113 pounds, Hoeg at 170 and Zagarino at 195.
Joining them on the bus ride upstate along with the rest of the Section XI team will be four teammates: Luke Bokina (106 pounds), who is Jack’s twin brother, senior Tim Schmidt (182), senior Charles Zaloom (220) and junior Chris Schwamborn (285). Luke Bokina is 40-6, Schmidt is 31-10, Zaloom is 35-4 and Schwamborn is 27-14.
“We want to just keep going,” said Zaloom.
Before the finals on Saturday, the Tuckers, fresh off their fourth consecutive Suffolk Division II team championship, will be recognized along with Warsaw of Section V as being tied for first in the state’s small school rankings.
The Tuckers, who some believe have their strongest team ever, may stand their best chance ever of seeing one of their own crowned in Albany.
“They’re in good spots,” Dolson said, “and if they wrestle the way they’re capable of we could put multiple guys in the finals and multiple champions.”
The Tuckers spent one day training with the rest of Suffolk County Division II’s champions at Mattituck High School last week before the county’s Division I and Division II wrestlers joined forces for training sessions at Hauppauge High School. Bumps and bruises aside, Dolson said his wrestlers are healthy and ready.
“The work is done really,” he said. He continued: “It’s a high-pressure situation, but pressure is a privilege. These guys have earned that right to be in the big spot.”
Photo caption: Mattituck/Greenport/Southold sophomore Jack Bokina (39-3), left, will take a 112-35 career record into his third state tournament. (Credit: Daniel De Mato, file)