Nothing can quite prepare a wrestler for the spectacle that is the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Wrestling Championships at Times Union Center in Albany.
The state tournament is quite a show. “It’s just very different [from] any tournament you’re in the whole year,” Mattituck/Greenport/Southold coach Cory Dolson said. “Everything from the warmup, the walk to the arena, the way they structure how you get on the mat, it’s just everything is very, very different from a normal tournament, even the county tournament. It’s not your run-of-the-mill wrestling tournament. It’s a much, much bigger scale in a much, much bigger place.”
Mattituck’s Colby Suglia and Ethan Schmidt both got to experience it last season as juniors. Suglia (39-9 last season) went 2-2 in the state Division II tournament at 220 pounds while Schmidt (35-14) went 1-2 at 170 pounds. Neither made it to the second day of the tournament, but picking up wins at that level is an accomplishment in itself.
Suglia equated it to every match being like a county final. “You got to bring it,” he said. “You can’t be afraid of these kids. Go against them with what you got.”
Schmidt called it the most competitive tournament he has ever been involved in. “It’s great,” he said. “You just have to be ready.”
Mattituck has sent wrestlers to the state tournament every year since at least 2007, said Dolson.
“I’m just proud of these guys,” Dolson said. “They had an awesome year and it was a big step up for both of them from their 10th-grade year and I think they’re just moving in the right direction.”
Schmidt believes the state experience will help next season. “Now we know that we can beat top guys and we shouldn’t be afraid of anyone in our division,” he said. “Yeah, it was fun. It didn’t end as planned, but next year we’re going to go up there and get the job done and get on the podium.”
Photo caption: Mattituck/Greenport/Southold’s Colby Suglia pinned Petrides junior Ervis Spahiu at 3:18 in the wrestlebacks at Times Union Center in Albany. (Credit: Jim Franco/file)