Wrestling Preview: Tuckers have a tough act to follow this season
Look at the evidence. Look at what the Mattituck/Greenport high school wrestling team did last season.
The Tuckers put up an 18-3 record, going undefeated (8-0) in Suffolk County League VII for the second season in a row. Heading into their season-opening match against Longwood Wednesday, they have won 16 consecutive league matches over the last two seasons. For the first time in team history, they won back-to-back league titles, giving them a total of five. After having never won a team county championship before, they were crowned the Section XI Division II champions for a second straight year. They had a team-record seven individual county champions compete in the state tournament. Then, after the season, two Tuckers were named middle school all-Americans.
That’s an awful lot to hang your hat on. Was it the greatest season the Tuckers have ever had?
“It’s hard to say no,” said coach Cory Dolson.
The trick now is for the Tuckers to withstand the loss of eight seniors from last season’s team and drive for a threepeat as the top Division II team in Suffolk.
“The last few years have been fun, so we’re just trying to keep it going,” said Dolson, who is in his ninth season as the team’s head coach. He added: “Like anything else, it didn’t happen overnight. It’s just years and years of hard work.”
While there may be a slight drop in the tremendous depth the team had last season, Mattituck/Greenport still has 38 wrestlers on its roster, almost 15 more than any other Suffolk Division II team, according to Dolson. So depth is still there, and there is quality to go with the quantity.
The team’s returning county champions are senior Adam Goode (26-10), sophomore James Hoeg (31-9) and freshman Jack Bokina (26-10). Bokina not only fell a point shy of being an all-state wrestler, but he was selected as a middle school all-American along with his twin brother Luke (19-9).
And there are others back who posted nice records last season. Sophomore T. J. Beebe went 25-13 and was a county runner-up. Junior Lucas Webb went 25-14, and sophomore Tanner Zagarino went 24-11.
Also back are junior Tim Schmidt and Webb’s older brother, senior Tyler Webb, who missed six weeks last season with a broken thumb.
Two sophomore — Thomas Hoeg, James’ cousin, and Timmy Pelan — could very well be in the starting lineup.
The depth the Tuckers has may allow them to absorb the graduation losses.
“Usually you lose so much you say it’s a rebuilding year,” Dolson said. “We’re trying not to miss a beat.”
Last season the Tuckers were so dominant that they sent 11 wrestlers to the county finals and 19 of the 26 they entered in the tournament finished in the top four of their weight class. As a team, they totaled 333 1/2 points, which was 133 more than second-place Port Jefferson.
What are the chances for a county threepeat?
“If we wrestle the way we’re capable of, I don’t see why we can’t do it,” said Dolson.
He continued: “Winning is contagious, man, you know; it’s fun. It’s a lot more fun than losing.”