The goal for any returning county runner-up wrestler would have to be the same: Take that next step up the podium.
That’s what Ethan Schmidt and Colby Suglia are both striving to do this coming season. Last season, as sophomores, the Mattituck/Greenport/Southold high school wrestlers were training partners who helped each other to second-place finishes in their respective weight classes in the Section XI Division II Championships. Both of them lost to heavily-favored wrestlers in the finals. Schmidt, wrestling at 152 pounds, was beaten by Shoreham-Wading River senior John Carl Petretti by technical fall. The match was stopped after 4 minutes and 20 seconds when the methodical Petretti took a 17-0 lead. In the 170-pound final, Suglia had a hard time against Center Moriches junior Lajess Sawyer, who scored an 8-1 decision.
“They had great tournaments last year and great finishes to the season,” coach Cory Dolson said. “If they would have won those matches in the finals, [they] would have been big, big upsets.”
Asked how coming so close to being a county champion affected him, Suglia answered: “It angered me but it made me push harder. It makes me want it more.”
Schmidt, who finished the season with a 25-15 record, said: “I was glad about the outcome. I knew I was going to do not so good in the final match, but I wrestled my hardest, placed second as a sophomore, so that was pretty cool.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean the two aren’t striving for bigger and better things in 2018-19.
Dolson said coming that close to a county championship and a place in the state tournament can serve as motivation for the better wrestlers. “It’s a fork in the road,” he said. “Where are you going to go? Are you going to do the same amount of work and get the same result or are you going to put a little bit more time, a little more effort in and try to get a better result? It’s really up to the individual.”
Schmidt and Suglia are both moving up in weight class this season. While Schmidt will likely wrestle at 160 or 171 pounds, Suglia will go at 195 or 220, said Dolson.
In practices in Mattituck High School’s wrestling room, Schmidt has been training with senior Ben Webb (15-15 last season) and Suglia. Suglia has also been training with Tyler Marlborough and James Jacobs. “They’re pushing me, they’re helping,” he said.
Schmidt and Suglia are both following in the footsteps of older brothers who wrestled for the Tuckers. Ethan’s brothers, Tim (Wagner) and Ben (West Virginia), are now playing college lacrosse. Suglia’s older brother, Gage, attends South Carolina.
Regardless of their weight class, Schmidt and Suglia are both in the mix for county titles, said Dolson. “This year [the goal has] got to be to win that tournament and get yourself up to the states and experience that tournament and try to do some damage. They’re definitely capable of it. They’re going to have to work really hard and really push the pace at practice because they really got to go a long way to accomplish that goal.”
The coach said Schmidt has “a lot a lot of talent,” although his emotions can get the better of him sometimes during the heat of a match. “Sometimes he’s just got to take a deep breath, relax and think for a moment.”
Suglia, who went 26-13 last season, pushed himself in offseason training. “He put on a lot of size, a lot of muscle,” Dolson said. “He looks like a different kid from last year.”
“Colby is kind of how he looks: He’s like a bull, you know,” Dolson continued. “He’s strong. His biggest thing is he’s got to work on keeping his technique clean. Sometimes he’ll be out there and he’ll be a little bit sloppy.”
What Schmidt and Suglia accomplished last season serves as a fine example to Mattituck’s current crop of sophomores. “We have a good group of 10th-graders this year,” Dolson said. “I think it shows them that it doesn’t really matter what grade you’re in.”
What matters is the work being done in the wrestling room.
Photo caption: Mattituck/Greenport/Southold junior Ethan Schmidt (top) wrestling against Ben Webb during Monday’s practice at Mattituck High School. (Credit: Bob Liepa)