Reaching the New York State Public High School Athletics Association wrestling championships can be a double-edged sword, as Tomasz Filipkowski knows only too well. On the one hand, advancing that far is quite an achievement. At the same time, though, it can also be painful to have gone so far, only to return home from the tournament empty-handed.
Filipkowski knows the feeling only too well. The Mattituck/Greenport senior experienced that strange mix of elation and disappointment the past two years. Filipkowski won two matches in last season’s state tournament, but lost in a consolation quarterfinal, 3-1, in overtime to Brad Burns of Hoosick Falls.
“He was an overtime away from being an all-state wrestler,” said Mattituck/Greenport coach Cory Dolson.
It may be, however, that the past two years have fueled Filipkowski’s desire to not only return to the state meet for a third straight year, but to also pick up a medal.
“I think it’s driving him,” Dolson said. “Some kids are just satisfied to be up there and some kids want to go up there and do some damage.”
Dolson said he sees more maturity in Filipkowski than he has in the past, along with a better work ethic and a positive attitude. Perhaps Filipkowski senses that he has the opportunity to do some big things this season.
A two-time Suffolk County champion who has been in the county final the past three years, Filipkowski was the county Division II champion at 170 pounds last season as well as the county tournament’s champion of champions for the second year in a row. His record was 34-4 with 14 pins in 2011-12.
Filipkowski is nine wins away from joining Suffolk’s Century Club, having compiled a 91-23 career record (35 wins by pins) since being brought up to the varsity team as an eighth-grader. Only three other Tuckers — Sean Heaney (114 wins), Ryan Connell (107) and Charles Kozora (106) — have surpassed the 100-win mark.
By the time the season is over, Filipkowski’s name could become etched in the Tuckers’ record book as the team’s winningest wrestler ever. He could also become the second all-state wrestler in team history. Louis Troisi became the first when he took third place in the 2007 state tournament.
What is even better for the Tuckers, who went 5-3 in League VII last season, is they have other fine wrestlers such as freshman Lucas Webb and senior Chris Baglivi (26-9), who were county champions at 99 and 195 pounds, respectively.
The team has lost only two wrestlers from last season, and the fruits of a local youth wrestling program are being seen.
“We have more depth than usual,” said Dolson, who is in his seventh season as the Tuckers’ head coach and eighth with the program. “We have guys who are going to be battling for starting spots. It’s more quality than we’ve ever had.”
Brian Pelan (25-9), a junior, was a county runner-up at 126 pounds. Others earned good reviews on the county stage. Andre Vega, a senior, was third in the county at 138 pounds. Bobby Becker, a junior, was fourth at 138, and eighth-grader James Hoeg was fourth at 106.
They helped the Tuckers to a second-place finish in the county team scoring behind Bayport-Blue Point. It was the second time that the Tuckers took second in the county; they have never won a county championship.
“I think the goal has to be to win the division,” said Dolson.
Helping them toward that end are returning starters such as junior Sal Loverde (170 or 182 pounds), senior Rodolfo Perez (138) and junior Ryan Bergen (132). The Tuckers also have two juniors from Greenport entering their third varsity season, Christian Angelson (162) and Jack Volinski (138). “They’re both real tough,” said Dolson.