Three Tuckers training for state wrestling tournament

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Jeff Strider of Mattituck/Greenport is one of three Tuckers who look forward to tackling the competition in the state tournament.

The Mattituck/Greenport high school wrestling coach, Cory Dolson, hopes to be one busy man this weekend in Albany. In fact, the busier he is, the better.

The Tuckers have not one, not two, but three wrestlers competing in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships at the Times Union Center on Friday and Saturday.

Sophomore Tomasz Filipkowski (160 pounds) and seniors Brandon Lake (189) and Jeff Strider (145) will represent the Tuckers and Suffolk County (Section XI).

Dolson said his trio’s chances to take home a state title were “as good as anybody else.”

Filipkowski, Lake and Strider qualified by winning their respective weight classes in the county Division II tournament two weeks ago.

“All three of them are super coachable,” Dolson said. “They listen very, very well and they’re very hard workers, which is something that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes you get some guys with a lot of talent, but don’t work hard. These three guys, they all have a lot of talent and they work hard. And they all listen, which is great.”

Each wrestler, though, brings his own unique attributes to the mat.

Filipkowski (28-2) was selected as the champion of champions in a vote of his fellow finalists at the county tournament.

“Tomasz, as a 10th grader, has a lot of natural ability,” Dolson said. “He’s strong, fast. He’s a lot better athlete than a lot of the kids he wrestles.”

Lake (30-6) and Strider (30-6) have more experience.

“Brandon and Jeff, they’re not necessarily the best athlete in their weight classes,” Dolson said. “But Jeff is the kind of kid who has been wrestling for a while, working really hard. Jeff does the extra things that help him become a champion. Brandon is another kid who is a senior, maybe not the toughest or strongest kid., but he listens. He’s a very smart wrestler and he gets the job done.”

Dolson, who has coached wrestlers in the state tournament before, knows what the atmosphere is like, so he can offer some sage advice.

“I try not to make it a very big deal,” he said. “Honestly, it’s the state tournament, the most important tournament of the year.”

But .…

“Wrestling’s wrestling, whether you’re in a wrestling room, a high school gym or in an arena with six mats,” Dolson said. “It’s a six-minute match against another guy. It’s just a regular match. If you can try to keep it in that kind of sense, you can try to be less nervous.

“Realistically, it’s the states they’re going to deal with. They’re more nervous than usual. We just try to tell them to stay focused and understand it’s just a wrestling match.”

The Mattituck/Greenport threesome has been training with the other Section XI champions at Bayport-Blue Point High School, the county champion, the past 10 days.

If any wrestler loses in the first round, he will get another opportunity to vie for third place via a series of wrestlebacks on Friday and Saturday.