Every time the Mattituck/Greenport/Southold wrestling team enters its training room for practice, the athletes see reminders of past success.
Coach Cory Dolson hopes that will rub off on the Tuckers this season as it aims for the Suffolk County League VIII championship and perhaps more glory down the line.
“The success we’ve had a few years back for a pretty long time,” Dolson said. “The kids walk into the room, look at the walls and see it every day. Those are motivating factors. They know it’s been done here before. We’ve had super high-level teams. Maybe this isn’t going to be one of the best teams we’ve ever had. I think this team has an opportunity to win a league championship, which is something that we have to work hard for every day.
“You always have to have a goal in mind. This year we got moved to League VIII. So the goal has got to be to win the league. Any time you get a chance to compete for a championship, be a championship team, that goes a long way. That goes a long way to motivating the kids.”
Dolson was optimistic because he has a core of six wrestlers who earned All-County status last year.
Leading the pack are two county champions. Senior Ethan Schmidt (35-14 last season) will compete at 170 or 182 pounds while Colby Suglia (39-9) is slotted for 195 or 220.
“We’re going to look at those guys just about every match to go out there and get wins and bonus points for us,” said Dolson, whose team went 2-3 last season. “Obviously, their goal is to win another county title and go upstate and get on that podium. It’s not easy to do. They’ve got a lot of work ahead of them. We wrestle in a very tough area here on Long Island, so nothing is guaranteed. But those guys are going to work hard and try to accomplish what they did last year and even more when they get to the state tournament.”
They are followed by two seniors who were All-County selections — Cole DiGregorio, a finalist who probably will wrestle at 145 and Tyler Marlborough, a third-place finisher slated for 220 or 285.
Dolson called DiGregorio “one of the hardest workers we have. Gets better every single day.”
“The sky is really the limit for him,” he added. “He hasn’t been wrestling too long. He has been wrestling for only a few years, but he makes big strides every day in the room. That’s a kid that keeps getting better and better.”
Marlborough has been a staple in the Tuckers’ lineup. “He continues to improve,” Dolson said. “He is looking to do better than last year.”
A pair of county third-place finishers round out the team’s key returnees — senior Malachi Boisseau and junior Antonio Jimenez, who are projected to wrestle at 160. Dolson said Boisseau is a “very strong, and explosive kind of wrestler and a guy I will be looking to making improvements on last year.”
They won’t be the only Tuckers who will be moved out of their weight class. That will depend on the opponents and some other factors.
“They’re both the same weight and we’re going to need them both in the lineup definitely come dual-meet time,” Dolson said. “We’ve got some guys that we’ve got to separate in the lineup, unfortunately. We got to get creative on where we put guys for our dual-meet lineup because we’ve got a few weight classes where we’ve got some quality guys.
“We’ll be flexible. Guys will have to move up, guys will have to move down, depending on the circumstance, who we’re wrestling.”
The Tuckers will start their season at the North Babylon Tournament Saturday. Dolson figures it will be a good first test.
“Absolutely,” he said. “You don’t know what you have until you get out there and you start competing,” he said. “It’s a little monotonous at the beginning of the season. You’re beating up on each other for three or four weeks. The kids are ready to get out there and ready to compete.”
Beyond that, there are goals to reach.
“We still have a lot of quality guys on this team that do really good things,” Dolson said. “We’ve got to get better every day, individually and as a team. If we work hard, have the right attitude and give the right effort, I think good things are going to happen.”
Photo caption: Mattituck/Greenport/Southold’s Colby Suglia (39-9 last season) pinned Petrides’ Ervis Spahiu in the wrestlebacks at the state tournament in February at Times Union Center in Albany. (Credit: Jim Franco, file)