NORTH FORK INVITATIONAL
With blood streaming down the right side of his face, Tomasz Filipkowski looked like a cast member from a B-grade horror film, but it was the storybook ending that made this tale so captivating.
It was 10 seconds into the 170-pound final of the North Fork Invitational on Saturday night at Mattituck High School when the bout was stopped temporarily so Filipkowski could be attended to. The Mattituck/Greenport senior said he was struck on his right eyelid by either the head or a tooth of his opponent, No. 1 seed Maleik Henry of Half Hollow Hills East.
A trainer, Colleen McGowan, managed to slow the bleeding and wrapped a bandage around Filipkowski’s head so he could resume the match. Two minutes 28 seconds of blood time were consumed, but that was the only stoppage of the match because of bleeding. The second-seeded Filipkowski went on to bounce back from a 2-1 deficit and defeat Henry, 4-3, in perhaps the most enthralling match of the finals.
After the final buzzer sounded, a joyous Filipkowski clapped for himself and received applause from spectators. He was later recognized for his efforts under adversity by being selected the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler.
“It’s pretty sweet,” Filipkowski acknowledged later in the locker room. “It’s one of my top [wins]. It’s at home. It’s against a kid that I lost to before in the season.”
Filipkowski, who was a champion in last year’s tournament as well, defeated Henry twice last season, but then lost to him in the Half Hollow Hills East Tournament final earlier this season. That was motivation enough. When Filipkowski sustained the cut, which was expected to require several stitches, it appeared as if it would endanger his plans.
Asked how much the cut hindered him, Filipkowski replied: “I didn’t think about it at all. I don’t think it affected me too much, to be completely honest. I just went out there and stuck with doing what I had to do during the match.”
Mattituck/Greenport coach Cory Dolson said Filipkowski endured “a little adversity, but nothing major.” The coach said that what Filipkowski did was “nothing eye-opening. That’s what he does. He grinds guys down, he scores takedowns, he doesn’t let guys ride him. That’s a typical match for him.”
Two other Mattituck/Greenport wrestlers reached the top of the podium in their weight classes, junior Brian Pelan and senior Chris Baglivi.
Pelan, a junior seeded No. 1, scored a 6-3 decision against No. 3 Ed Henriques of Harborfields in the 126-pound final.
“I expected myself to win it,” Pelan said. “I wanted to win it, so I put my mind to it and got what I wanted.”
The Tuckers also received a fine performance from Baglivi at 195 pounds. Baglivi, the tournament favorite, was leading his opponent, No. 2 Nick Marcinek of Connetquot, by 5-0 before pinning him at 2 minutes 46 seconds. It was Baglivi’s second tournament title of the season.
“I’ve been going for it for three years, trying to win this tournament,” Baglivi said. “I’m really pumped. It’s always a tough tournament.”
Riverhead sent two wrestlers into the finals, sophomore Raheem Brown (160 pounds) and junior Ryan Gevinski (120).
The sixth-seeded Brown upset the tournament’s top three seeds in his path to winning a champions’ medal and his first career tournament crown. He defeated the No. 1 seed, Nick Mastro of Connetquot, in the final, 6-4.
“You’re tired, you’re fighting,” Brown said. “You just want to win. You want to be the one with your hand raised at the end.”
Brown said he was motivated by his coaches, who got on him following his loss in a dual meet against Hauppauge the night before.
“I’m trying to move up better and better because there are other people out there 10 times better than me,” he said, “and I want to be just like them.”
A week earlier, Brown received the Riverhead team’s weekly most outstanding wrestler award.
“He’s a kid that’s still on his way up,” Riverhead coach Wade “Rocky” Davey said. “He doesn’t realize how good he can be.”
Gevinski, the third seed, dropped a 5-1 decision to No. 1 Steven Bolzomi of Connetquot in their final.
Connetquot and Rocky Point, recognized as being among the top teams in the state, lived up to their billing. Connetquot won the team title for the third year in a row, posting 376 points in the 12-team tournament. Rocky Point was the runner-up with 279, and Mattituck/Greenport third with 210.
“Our guys wrestled great today,” Dolson said. “Third place is a tremendous performance for our team.”
Following his tremendous performance, Filipkowski removed his headgear, revealing a stream of blood trickling down his face while photographers snapped away.
Said Pelan, “That’s going to look sweet in the paper, that’s for sure.”