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Wrestling: Four Tuckers grab state semifinal slots

Mattituck:Greenport:Southold wrestler Tanner Zagarino 022417

Send eight wrestlers into the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships and there’s a decent chance some good things are going to happen.

Four of the eight Mattituck/Greenport/Southold wrestlers who made it to Times Union Center in Albany for Day One of the state tournament on Friday have secured a place in Saturday’s Division II semifinals. Luke Bokina, his twin brother Jack Bokina, James Hoeg and Tanner Zagarino are still in contention in their bids to become Mattituck’s first state champions.

“So far, so good,” Mattituck coach Cory Dolson said. “We had four seeded guys who were supposed to be in the semis and they’re in the semis.”

The Bokinas, two juniors both seeded third in their weight class, were the first Tuckers to assure themselves of a semifinal place.

Luke, wrestling at 120 pounds, was tied with Tonawanda sophomore Zach Braddell, 1-1, late in their quarterfinal. Then Braddell was penalized a point with two seconds left in the third period for grabbing Bokina’s headgear. The score ended 2-1. Luke beat Locust Valley freshman Greg Denatale, 12-5, in his first-round match.

Jack Bokina had an easier go of it at 126 pounds. He won by fall over Onteora freshman Nate Ross in 5:17 and then was a 12-0 quarterfinal winner over Petrides junior Amir Johnson.

Two Mattituck seniors, Hoeg and Zagarino, lived up to their high seeding and earned semifinal places. The second-seeded Hoeg won by technical fall over Susquehanna Valley junior Richie Knapp at 3:55 of their 195-pound quarterfinal. In his opening match, Hoeg took  a technical fall over Duanesburg senior Ryan Harper at 3:38. Hoeg was leading, 15-0, when both bouts were stopped.

Zagarino, the No. 1 seed at 220 pounds, didn’t disappoint. Wrestling with a black brace on his right shoulder, Zagarino looked as strong as ever. He fell Peru junior Cole McKee at 1:00 and then pinned his quarterfinal opponent, Unatego senior Garyn Huntley at 3:58.

Other Tuckers had a rougher start to the tournament, losing their first matches and heading into the consolation rounds. T.J. Beebe, a senior wrestling at 138 pounds, was defeated in the first round, 5-0, by seventh-seeded Mason Gray of Warsaw. Senior Carmine Vergari had the misfortune of being paired with the top seed, Central Valley Academy senior Tanner Cook, in the first round at 145 pounds. Cook was a 9-2 winner. At 152 pounds, senior Thomas Hoeg, James’ cousin, dropped a 3-0 decision to senior Collin O’Brien, the No. 7 seed from Watervliet-Heatly, in their first match. In his first-round bout at 160 pounds, senior Jake Skrezec lost to top-seeded Warsaw senior Noah Grover by fall in 2:58.

Zagarino took third place in the state meet last year. That equaled the best finish ever by a Mattituck wrestler. Louis Troisi placed third in 2007. Jack Bokina and James Hoeg were fourth-place finishers a year ago.

Late in the afternoon, as the first consolation-round bouts were being contested, Mattituck stood in second place in the Division II team scoring with 39 points. Central Valley Academy was first with 41.

What does Dolson think of the chances of his four semifinalists coming away with titles?

“Why not?” he said. “These guys are really good. They’re working at a high level. The sky’s the limit for us.”

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Photo caption: Mattituck/Greenport/Southold senior Tanner Zagarino, the top-seeded Division II wrestler at 220 pounds, got the better of Unatego senior Garyn Huntley in the quarterfinals Friday. (Credit: Ray Nelson)