Take away a super wrestler from last season, and what does the current Mattituck/Greenport high school wrestling team have?
Answer: A super team.
Go figure. The Tuckers said goodbye to Sean Heaney, who graduated last spring with a tremendous 114-32 career record. Since then, however, the Tuckers have gone from an 8-12 team in 2009-10 to a team that finished with a 16-7 dual-meet record this season. How did they do it?
With a balanced lineup.
“We have, for the most part, a solid kid in almost every weight class,” Mattituck/Greenport Coach Cory Dolson said. “That’s something that’s hard to do.”
“We don’t have a super stud,” he added. “We have a couple of tough kids, but our lineup is much stronger because we have better guys all the way through. That helped us get the 16 wins, without a doubt.”
With talent spread throughout their lineup, the Tuckers closed out their dual-meet season with a 72-12 thumping of an inexperienced and shorthanded Smithtown Christian team on Friday at Mattituck High School. The result assured the Tuckers (6-2 in Suffolk County League VII) of a share of second place with the Babylon Panthers (8-4, 6-2) and possibly the Center Moriches Red Devils, who started the day at 8-3, 5-2.
“I feel proud to be on this team,” Mattituck/Greenport senior David Martinez said. “It’s one of the best teams that Mattituck has had, and to be a part of it is really amazing.”
Teammate Andre Vega said: “We had a great season this year. I’m proud of everybody, and I’m hoping that next season is even better.”
It was a day for pins. All eight of the bouts that were wrestled Friday were decided on pins, seven in Mattituck/Greenport’s favor. Ryan Bergen (112 pounds), Richie Koch (135), Vega (140), Jeff Strider (145), Martinez (152), Chris Baglivi (171) and Brandon Lake (189) all scored pins for the Tuckers.
Prior to the match, the Tuckers recognized their seven seniors, who appeared in uniform in their home gym for the last time: Andres Aldaz, Andy Ennis, Jorge Perez, Wilson Quizphi, Lake, Martinez and Strider.
“It’s the last time I’ll be here, so it’s nice to leave on a good note,” Martinez said. “It was kind of sad for me when I got called out for the last time. I really wanted to make sure I won the last match.”
He did, taking down Randy Malsky at 2 minutes 40 seconds.
None of the matches went to a third period, and several were decided rather quickly. Vega needed only 34 seconds to pin Josh Russo. Koch stopped Tony Kang in 41 seconds. Strider’s pin of Roger Erdvig was accomplished in 43 seconds.
Needing a little more time to record their pins were Bergen (2:26 against Jeremiah Shaw), Baglivi (3:27 against Paul Caparros) and Lake (3:19 against Frank Noviello).
Smithtown Christian (1-7, 1-7), which gave away points in the five weight classes it forfeit, gained its only win on the mat through Pete Schneider at 103 pounds. Schneider, who trailed Quizphi by 6-2 after one period, ended it with a pin at 3:39.
A second-year varsity team, Smithtown Christian has only 17 wrestlers on its team, and three of them were injured.
“I’m not looking to win dual meets because I can’t because I have too many forfeits,” Crusaders Coach Scott Schneider said. “But also, the other reason is, my guys are inexperienced. More than half of my wrestlers, it’s their first year wrestling, so they got to develop. It’s a developmental year for them.”
After the match, Scott Schneider joked that he was partial to the Tuckers because his father-in-law, Tom Brennan, is an English teacher at Mattituck High School. Asked if the two exchanged good-natured ribbing, Scott Schneider replied: “There’s not much kidding, considering Mattituck beats us pretty big. There’s not much kidding I can do to him.”
The Tuckers are gearing up for the Section XI Championships that will be held Feb. 13 and 14 at Stony Brook University.
“We won, obviously, but realistically, for those guys, the bigger weekend is next week,” Dolson said. “When you’re a senior, you really want to get to that county tournament and do well. Although it’s nice to win on your last home meet, I think if you talked to them, most of them would rather win next week.”
Strider (27-6), Lake (26-6) and Tomasz Filipkowski (23-2) have helped lead the Tuckers to where they finished in the league and could do something big in the county tournament.
“I don’t think we have too many favorites, but I think if we wrestle our way and our style, I think we can come out with a few champs, without a doubt,” said Dolson.
Martinez acknowledged that Friday’s match was something of a mixed bag of emotions. There was happiness, certainly, but also some sadness.
“It’s a little bit of both,” he said. “It’s happy, glad we won, and also it’s going to be sad walking out of here for the last time.”