It was the feel-good story of a feel-good season.
On second thought, better make that plural. Call them the feel-good stories of a feel-good season for the Mattituck/Greenport/Southold high school wrestling team.
On Sunday there were so many things for the Tuckers to feel good about. Where does one begin? With the Tuckers winning their own 19th annual North Fork Invitational for the first time in at least 11 years, according to coach Cory Dolson? Or with the Tuckers sending six wrestlers into the finals and all of them triumphing? Or with twin brothers Luke and Jack Bokina winning tournament championships in the same tournament for the first time? Or with Charles Zaloom and Chris Schwamborn picking up the first tournament titles of their careers? Or with the tournament’s champion of champions plaque being awarded, in a symbolic gesture, to Trevor Larsen, a senior with autism?
Yes, it was quite a lot to take in.
The Tuckers have travelled a great deal this season to compete in tournaments. Ironically, they only had to walk outside their wrestling room for one of the toughest tournaments — their own.
Winning a tournament title is a nice thing for a wrestler, but doing so in his own gym has to make it extra special. The Bokina brothers, James Hoeg, Tanner Zagarino, Zaloom and Schwamborn all earned winners’ medals in front of their home fans at Mattituck High School.
It was an impressive showing for the Tuckers, who sent more wrestlers to the finals and had more wins (54) than any of the other eight teams competing. With 14 of their own finishing among the top six places in their weight class, the Tuckers took the team title with 289 points. Half Hollow Hills East was second with 216 1/2. Riverhead was ninth with 98.
The Bokinas, who are both sophomores, were the first Tuckers to have their arms raised as champions. Luke Bokina scored a 5-0 decision over Anthony Fishetti of Bay Shore at 106 pounds. In the next bout, the 113-pound final, Jack Bokina didn’t allow a bloody nose to prevent him from beating Danny Colondona of Connetquot, 4-1. Bokina used 1 minute 50 seconds of blood time.
Hoeg, wrestling at 170 pounds, turned in a dominating performance in his final, a 10-1 thrashing of Nick Saporito of Patchogue-Medford.
The Tuckers turned in 20 pins on the day, tying Hills East for the tournament lead. Two of those pins came from Zagarino and Schwamborn in their title bouts. Zagarino downed Quan Massop of Bay Shore at 2:31 of their 195-pound encounter. Schwamborn sent his 285-pound opponent, Marvin St. Juste of Bay Shore, to the mat at 1:36.
Zaloom took the 220-pound crown with a 6-1 defeat of Justin Hansel of Riverhead.
Hansel was one of three Riverheaders to reach the finals. The other two lost as well. Kerry Thomas was pinned by William Romero of Rocky Point at 5:47 of the 120-pound final. Mitch Hobbs lost, 6-2, to Amiri Lake of North Babylon at 152 pounds.
The tournament’s most outstanding wrestler award went to Bobby Pease of Patchogue-Medford, the 160-pound champion following his 5-3 defeat of Joe Bartolotto of Miller Place.
Thomas Hoeg (120), T. J. Beebe (132), Carmine Vergari (145) and Tim Schmidt (182) turned in third-place showings for the Tuckers.
The Tuckers’ performance came a day after they lost only their second dual meet of the season, to Hauppauge, in the semifinals of the Suffolk County dual-meet tournament. They finished with a 26-2 dual-meet record.
Photo caption: Mattituck/Greenport/Southold’s Charles Zaloom, left, and Riverhead’s Justin Hansel grappling in the 220-pound final. Zaloom won, 6-1. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)