That three-digit number hanging over Brian Pelan’s head may have been more of a burden than even he had suspected. When the Mattituck/Greenport wrestler finally recorded career win No. 100, he said, the thing he felt more than anything else was relief. Relief that he had done it. Relief that it was over.
“I got that 100th win, I was like, ‘All right, the pressure’s off of me,’ ” he said. “It was a total relief. From day one of wrestling that was on my mind for some reason. I don’t know why but I wanted to get that 100th win, get it over with so I could focus on bigger and better goals. It’s just a stepping-stone, but it was great.”
A cadre of family and friends was in attendance when Pelan registered the milestone at the Comsewogue Duals on Jan. 11. With his pin of West Islip’s Mike Ferrugiaria at 1 minute 8 seconds that day, Pelan joined rather exclusive company, becoming only the sixth wrestler to pick up 100 wins for the Tuckers. The senior has won six matches since then, tying him for fifth place on the Tuckers’ all-time win list with Charles Kozora. Further up the list are Tomasz Filipkowski (126 wins), Sean Heaney (114), Louis Troisi (110) and Ryan Connell (107).
“It’s five years of grinding out wins,” Mattituck/Greenport coach Cory Dolson said. “It’s a big accomplishment.”
Pelan takes a 27-2 record into Mattituck/Greenport’s big match at Port Jefferson today. It looks likely that the winner of that contest will become the Suffolk County League VII team champion.
On Friday, Pelan nailed down his 23rd pin of the season, stopping Bel McFarlane of Center Moriches at 3:30 on Senior Day at Mattituck High School. He was in control of the bout from start to finish, making it look almost easy.
“It was almost surreal,” Pelan said afterward. “I mean, I’ve watched so many Senior Days go by and I never really pictured myself wrestling one of my last matches in a Mattituck singlet.”
Pelan began hacking away at 100 wins as an eighth-grader wrestling at 112 pounds. Joining the so-called Century Club may have been a mere fleeting thought in Pelan’s mind at the time, but Dolson said he knew it was a possibility because of Pelan’s approach. “Any kid that is coachable and wants to get better and works hard, the sky’s the limit,” said Dolson.
Known as a fierce competitor in the wrestling room, where most of the team’s training is done, Pelan’s work ethic is the first thing his teammates point to.
“If you watch him wrestle, you can see he never gives up like some wrestlers do, but he never does, and you see in the [wrestling] room, he’s always working as hard as he can,” fellow senior Joe Peroni said. “He never gives it 95 percent. It’s always 100 percent.”
Adam Goode, a junior, said Pelan has “always been one of the leaders on the team, always pushing us in the room. He’s a great leader, and everything he does is always high tempo, everything intense, so it’s really good to have him in the room.”
Pelan hasn’t lost a league match since he was a sophomore. He was fourth in Suffolk County Division II as an eighth-grader and as a freshman. He reached county finals the past two years, losing both times. The county championship that has eluded his grasp serves as motivation.
“He’s accomplished a lot,” Dolson said. “The thing with Brian is he’s still hungry because he hasn’t achieved what he’s wanted to. He hasn’t won a county championship.”
Dolson is also thinking about Pelan advancing beyond the county level. “We’re trying to get him on the podium upstate,” he said. “That’s the real goal.”
Pins have been coming Pelan’s way this season at an impressive rate. That may be seen as a product of his experience and improvement.
“He’s seasoned, he’s experienced, and he’s an explosive wrestler,” Dolson said. “He has a lot of explosive moves that lead to pins. So, he wrestles an exciting, wild kind of style, so that definitely leads to falls.”
Pelan said the road to 100 wins involved a great deal of work (“No days off, you know,” he said). He didn’t hesitate for an instant in answering a question as to what has helped him the most to become the kind of wrestler that he is.
“My coach,” he said. “One hundred and ten percent, it’s my coach, a great coach. I wouldn’t ask for anybody else to be my coach. He always pushes us to be our best.”
Pelan said his all-out effort pays dividends during a match. “I feel like if you push 100 percent all the way through the match, people are just going to roll over,” he said. “They don’t want to be there with you.”
Pelan said he may wrestle in college. He hasn’t made his college choice yet. When he does head off to college, he will be taking 100-plus wins with him. That’s quite a haul.