Louis Troisi’s name has been mentioned time and time again in Mattituck/Greenport/Southold wrestling circles. That’s because Troisi made a name for himself as the only Mattituck wrestler to have ever reached the state podium and earned all-state status. He did that in 2007 when he took third place at 130 pounds in Division II.
The current Tuckers are undoubtedly well aware of Troisi’s place in the program’s history. Coach Cory Dolson has often spoken about his desire to see more Tuckers become all-state wrestlers. That could become a reality by the end of this week.
Four Tuckers, with a combined record of 117-21, are part of a powerful Section XI team that will compete in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships on Friday and Saturday at the Times Union Center in Albany. For three of them — freshman Jack Bokina (99 pounds), sophomore James Hoeg (160) and senior Adam Goode (195) — it will be their second appearance in the state tournament in as many years. Tanner Zagarino (170), a sophomore, will be making his state debut.
Goode called it “a privilege.” Describing the scene he encountered at the Times Union Center, the largest arena he has ever wrestled in, he said, “It’s a whole different atmosphere, a lot of kids from all over the state wrestling, trying to go for that title.”
The pomp, pageantry and all those spectators can be a lot for a wrestler to take in.
“Last year I was Bambi-eyed,” Goode said. “I had never been there before, coming into a giant arena with all these wrestlers and people watching, the spectators there. Didn’t do so well. Went 0 and 2, bounced out.”
The best advice Dolson can give his wrestlers is to focus on the task at hand.
“You have to kind of adjust to the surroundings, but what it all comes down to is it’s just another wrestling match, you know what I mean,” he said. “The mat’s the same size. You shake hands, you’re going to wrestle for six minutes, so if they can kind of tune the rest of the stuff out and just focus on doing what they’ve been doing all season, we’ll be fine.”
At the same time, the state tournament is unlike other tournaments. It involves the best of the best, wrestling at a high level. Each bout is akin to a county final.
“Every guy you’re wrestling won something, so there’s no hiding in these brackets,” said Dolson.
All four Tuckers figured prominently for a team that won League VII and Suffolk County Division II championships. Their individual win-loss records speak for themselves: Bokina is 30-6, Hoeg is 30-5, Zagarino is 30-3 and Goode is 27-7. They emerged as champions from the eight wrestlers the Tuckers sent into the county Division II finals. Zagarino won the tournament’s award for the most pins in the least time. He pinned all four of his opponents in 5 minutes 20 seconds.
The Tuckers will be on a Section XI bus to Albany on Thursday morning. After checking into their hotel, the wrestlers will practice at the arena in the late afternoon. The tournament will start Friday morning. The finals will be on Saturday night.
Bokina went 2-2 in Albany last year and was one point away from placing sixth. He will face Petrides sophomore Kevin Velez in their opening match. Hoeg, who has a 1-2 state record, was paired against Duanesberg senior Connor Lawrence. The brackets show Zagarino matched against Sidney senior Nick Jump, and Goode facing General Brown junior Ricardo Dawkins.
“I’m excited and I’m ready to wrestle,” said Zagarino, who has never been to Albany before.
Since their triumph in the county tournament, the four Tuckers have been training with Section XI’s other Albany-bound wrestlers.
“The physical part of it is done now,” Dolson said Monday afternoon before heading with his wrestlers to a practice at Hauppauge High School. “I think most of it now is just mental preparation and making sure our bodies feel good and that we’re mentally prepared to win tough matches because this tournament, you’re not going to get an easy match. There’s 16 kids [in each weight class]; they’re all champions. I think these guys have to be prepared to beat tough competition.”
“If they wrestle, they obviously have a chance to do some good things,” he continued, adding, “It’s up to them now.”
Putting wrestlers on the state podium has been the Tuckers’ driving goal, their ultimate aim this season.
“This is the tournament that we’ve been focusing on, not counties, nothing else, just wrestling your way the whole season and focusing on this weekend,” Goode said. “This is what we put all our hard work into.”
After this weekend, Louis Troisi may have some company in the Tuckers’ wrestling lore.