TUCKERS 78, KNIGHTS 7
There is always another challenge, another title to aspire to, another mountain to climb.
For the Mattituck/Greenport wrestling team, it’s not the Suffolk County League VII dual-meet championship that is the end all. The Tuckers clinched at least a share their first league title in a decade, with the possibility of a county Division II crown to follow next week. They took another giant step toward an undefeated league season with a 78-7 home victory over Smithtown Christian on Monday night.
Mattituck/Greenport can clinch the league championship with a win at The Stony Brook School on Wednesday.
But if you think coach Cory Dolson and his wrestlers will be content with just that, guess again.
“I don’t see any reason why we can’t achieve that goal,” said Tomasz Filipkowski, who has a 30-2 record at 170 and 182 pounds. “The way we’re wrestling, everyone has been really pushing in the [wrestling] room. Everyone has a real good work ethic. No one’s hitting that grind, that lag. Everyone’s still fresh.
“This is one of our more complete teams for a while. This is one of the first years that we’ve ever had from 99 to 285. There are no holes.”
Chris Baglivi, who has forged a 28-1 record at 195 pounds, was just as optimistic. “The sky’s the limit,” he said. “If everyone wrestles to their potential, we’ll definitely win the county. Everyone’s wrestled tough.”
The Tuckers (12-1, 7-0) always have had talented teams, but this year’s team has some added motivation since it finished second in the county tournament last year.
“Coming in second is not fun,” Dolson said. “It’s the worst. Nobody wants to finish second. You’re just that much closer to winning it. After coming so close last year, we got a lot of guys back from that team. They’re hungry, they’re motivated.”
Mattituck/Greenport has never won a Suffolk Division II title.
“It’s something special to be the first group of people at a school to do something,” Dolson said. “That’s making history, being the first group to ever do it. That’s extra motivation, too.”
To win every league dual meet would be an important first step up the mountain.
“It’s big for us,” Dolson said. “We’re hopefully going to go undefeated with a win on Wednesday. I think it’s big for the kids, big for the program. It’s nice, the hard work all these years is finally paying off. Winning stuff like this, going undefeated and winning a league title gives these kids a reason to keep coming back, gives them a reason to be excited about the wrestling program, a real reason to keep working hard.”
Monday’s encounter was virtually over before it started. Smithtown Christian (0-8, 0-7) brought only six wrestlers as the Tuckers won nine matches by forfeit.
Of the six matches that were held, Mattituck won four — all by pins.
Eighth-grader Tanner Zagarino pinned Josh Bellinger in only 28 seconds at 126 pounds. Ryan Bergen (132 pounds) pinned his man, Ian Mims, at 1:36. Bobby Becker (138) stopped Josh Shaw at 3:40. James Rugnetta (182) pinned Chris Olynik at 3:45.
“The situation is what it is,” Dolson said. “They had only six kids. They had a couple of tough guys. It’s tough for some of our guys. It’s hard to get up for a match like this. The atmosphere is really not there. There’s not a lot of people in the gym. It’s kind of quiet.”
The lack of competition meant some of Mattituck/Greenport’s best did not wrestle. That included Filipkowski, who has needed a special mask to protect five stitches he received over his right eye after he was head-butted at the North Fork Invitational two weeks ago.
Filipkowski, the school-record holder with 121 wins, admitted he had mixed emotions about being a spectator.
“It definitely has a chance to heal, which I guess that’s good,” he said. “But I’m definitely bummed out. It’s your last home thing ever. It’s disappointing, a little letdown.”
He added that the mask would be off in time for the county tournament. “I don’t think it has hindered my wrestling ability,” he said.
Baglivi wouldn’t have minded competition as well.
“I wish I could wrestle, senior night and all,” he said, adding that it would be the last time he could have wrestled at Mattituck High School. “I’m going to wrestle against Stony Brook.”
And possibly help the Tuckers make some history.
Dolson said that winning the league dual-meet title has helped his wrestlers “realize how good they are.”
“In the past you come so close and you don’t make it to the top of the mountain,” he said. “I think it’s sometimes for them to believe that they are the best. You’ve got to get there first and then kids start believing and buying in. Just us by going through the league and beating everybody and beating everybody pretty convincingly, that has given them a lot of confidence. They are wrestling with confidence. They are the best and they believe we can win.”