All-American. The words seem to jump off the page and grab a reader’s attention the way a wrestler grabs hold of an opponent.
Those two words now apply to a pair of Mattituck/Greenport high school wrestlers.
Twin brothers Luke and Jack Bokina both earned All-American status by virtue of their performances in the recent National High School Coaches Association Wrestling Championships. Luke took second place in the middle school tournament at 85 pounds while Jack finished fifth at 90. All-American honors went to the top eight wrestlers in each weight class.
Mattituck/Greenport coach Cory Dolson said he is “pretty sure” the two eighth-graders are the first All-Americans the Tuckers have ever had.
“To make the finals of a national tournament is just phenomenal,” Dolson said. “I don’t care how old you are or what class you’re at. It’s just a huge honor. It’s a huge accomplishment.”
The fact that the twins experienced their triumphs with their brother present at Virginia Beach Convention Center in Virginia on March 30 may have made it all the more memorable.
“We shared the happiness,” said Jack.
Both Bokinas reached the semifinals. Dolson said: “After they both had three wins, I said: ‘Why not? Why can’t they do it?’ They just kept wrestling at a very high level.”
Luke punched his ticket to the final by outscoring his first four opponents — Robbie Snyder of North Carolina, Geno Duca of New Jersey, Tyson Sauer of Vermont and Jack Darling of Massachusetts — by 24-11. He was then beaten in the final, 9-0, by Cole Martin of Ohio.
“I knew it was going to be tough,” said Luke.
All in all, though, he said wrestling in the biggest tournament he has competed in “was pretty cool.”
Luke completed his second season on the Suffolk County Division II champion Tuckers with a 34-19 career record. He went 19-9 this past season.
Jack trounced three Jacobs in his opening bouts in the national tournament, decisioning Jacob Browning of Virginia, 15-0; Jacob Brasseur of South Carolina, 6-0; and Jacob Perez of New Jersey, 9-0. But it was a Jakob — Jakob Camacho of Connecticut — who gave him trouble in the semifinals, winning by 10-8. That dropped Jack into the wrestlebacks. He lost to Tyler Harbison of Maryland, 4-0, before defeating Brady Conley of Ohio by fall at 1 minute 20 seconds in the contest for fifth place.
The semifinal loss disappointed Jack. “I wasn’t satisfied,” he said. “I could have [done] better, but I’m still happy.”
Jack went 26-10 this season, bringing his two-year varsity career record to 39-24.
One advantage the Bokinas have is, because they are close in weight and share the same home, they have a workout partner readily available to help them improve. Both are year-round wrestlers as well.
“These kids are dedicated,” Dolson said. “They work hard and I think they’re starting to see that the more you work, the more you push, that good things like this can happen. It’s a testament to those kids. … The whole program is very proud of these guys.”
The Bokinas take away more than just a plaque and certificates. Jack said, “It’s a big confidence-builder for next year.”