Unless a wrestler has experienced it, there really is no way for him to truly appreciate what the New York State wrestling championships are like. The tournament is essentially a multi-ring circus involving the state’s best high school wrestlers, mostly sectional champions, laying it all on the line under the glare of thousands in a large, loud arena.
Ethan Schmidt and Colby Suglia have both been there and done that. Now they want to do it again.
The two Mattituck/Greenport/Southold seniors are stronger, and possibly more motivated, than ever before. Winning whets the appetite for more winning.
“Losing the last match of the season last year and knowing that my season [was] over just made me switch my mindset into wanting to go further this year,” Schmidt said before heading into Mattituck High School’s wrestling room for the team’s second preseason practice Wednesday.
Both wrestlers got a taste of winning in the state tournament in Division II last season. Suglia (39-9 last season) went 2-2 at 220 pounds and Schmidt (35-14) went 1-2 at 170. Neither advanced to the second day of the tournament at Times Union Center in Albany, but the experience they gained was valuable.
What was wrestling in the state tournament like?
“It was different,” Schmidt said. “There was a lot of competition. It’s a big arena, so it’s kind of scary getting on the floor in front of everyone.”
Suglia said: “Last season was exciting. I wish I placed at states, but I was definitely happy to get up there … Once I get back up there this year, I know what’s there, I know what’s coming.”
Not that Suglia was taking it for granted that he will return to Albany for the state tournament Feb. 28 and 29. That right will have to be earned once again, and there are no guarantees.
“Getting up there is no small task in itself, right?” Mattituck coach Cory Dolson said. “Just because you win last year doesn’t mean you win this year, but obviously that’s the goal.”
Schmidt and Suglia have been doing what they can to prepare themselves. “Me and Ethan haven been working out through half the summer and through the football season we’ve been lifting every single day, trying to just get as big and strong as we can to dominate at the state tournament,” said Suglia.
Asked if he had been eager for preseason practice to start, Suglia hedged, answering, “I mean, eager, yeah, but I know what’s coming.”
By that he meant an awful lot of hard work was headed his way. Dolson said the first two weeks of practice are the toughest part of the season, and that’s saying something for a sport as tough as wrestling.
“This is the hardest part because we’re beating each other up in the [wrestling] room,” Suglia said. “… You got to fight through it.”
Schmidt and Suglia look well-prepared for the rigors ahead in their fourth varsity season. “Ethan and Colby both look great,” said Dolson, who has known them both since they were 4 or 5. “Their bodies have changed. They matured a little bit. They’re lifting a lot of weights. They’re both bigger and stronger.”
They both took a big step last season in winning their first county championship and advancing to the state tournament. The next logical step would be onto a state podium.
The wrestlers haven’t gone through weight certifications yet, but Dolson said Schmidt could wrestle at 160, 170 or 182 pounds. Suglia’s options are 195 or 220.
Said Suglia, “I’m confident and I’m ready to rock and roll.”
Photo caption: Ethan Schmidt, stretching out during a Mattituck/Greenport/Southold practice, wants to return to the state tournament, as does teammate Colby Suglia. (Credit: Bob Liepa)