The New York State wrestling championships are a spectacle to behold, with the top two percent of the state’s wrestlers competing on eight mats at Times Union Center in Albany before several thousand screaming fans. It can be unnerving for wide-eyed newcomers.
“I was a little in awe, to be honest with you,” one of those newcomers, Mattituck/Greenport/Southold senior Tyler Marlborough, said. “It feels overwhelming.”
“I’ve heard it a million times what it’s like up there, and I never really understood until I saw it with my own two eyes,” he continued. “It’s like one of those things, you got to see it to believe it.”
Having been there before certainly helps.
Mattituck senior Colby Suglia had that experience in his corner in his second straight state tournament Friday and Saturday. “I was a lot more confident in myself going up there,” he said.
Every bit helps, and Suglia helped himself to a fourth-place finish, winning three of his five Division II bouts at 220 pounds. He became only the sixth Mattituck wrestler to place in the top six at a state tournament, according to coach Cory Dolson.
The third-seeded Suglia (39-7) reached the semifinals, when he was hampered by a shoulder injury in a 13-6 loss to the No. 2 seed, Clarke senior Karl Bouyer (42-2), Saturday after pinning his first two opponents Friday. Suglia still managed to score a 4-2 triumph over Olean senior Connor Walsh to advance to the third-place match. It was at that stage when he was decisioned by Port Jervis senior James Oosterom, 5-3.
“I wish I wrestled better,” Suglia said Monday in a phone interview from Jamaica, where he was vacationing.
Suglia, who has a 5-4 record in state tournament matches, started the tournament impressively, with a first-period pin of Ardsley senior Billy Fon and a second-period pin of Lyndonville senior Mario Fidanza.
Then, in the first period of the semifinal, Suglia took a shot, grabbing Bouyer’s foot with his left hand. When Suglia tried to pull his hand back, he said he felt pain in his shoulder. “It’s a painful feeling that kind of scares you for a minute and makes you want to stop what you’re doing,” he said. “It screwed me for the rest of the match.”
Suglia said a doctor had diagnosed him as having a torn labrum after last year’s state tournament, but he never underwent an MRI.
Suglia, a two-time county champion, finished with 111 career wins.
“He’s going to have his name up on that [wrestling room] wall with a pretty high-echelon of kids,” Dolson said. “He’s been one of the best guys to come through here.”
Suglia influenced Marlborough’s successful season. Marlborough’s decision to avoid Suglia by wrestling in the 285-pound weight class this season proved to be a smart move. Marlborough won one of his three bouts — a 5-1 defeat of Chester senior Devin McGovern — to pull within one win of a podium place. He fell short of that, however, when he was pinned in the so-called blood round in 16 seconds by Fredonia senior Jake Skinner.
“I wish I did better,” Marlborough (34-9) said. “I honestly got outweighed and outmanned. People were telling me I’m a pretty big guy, and this guy was bigger than I was. It’s unfortunate I went down like that. I would have liked to have given even more of myself out there.”
The No. 4 seed, Newfane senior Jaden Heers (46-2), who pinned Marlborough 27 seconds into their first-round match, won the state title.
“I’d call it a pretty successful career,” Marlborough said. “I’m grateful for the program. Dolson never gave up on me. My freshman year, I think I had one varsity win the entire year, and then for me to go from that to having under 10 losses in the entire season, I’d call it a career well spent.”
Another Tucker making his first appearance in a state tournament, junior Jackson Cantelmo, lost both of his bouts at 160. Cantelmo (35-9) had a tough first-round opponent in second-seeded Giovanni Schifano of Eden. Schifano (45-2) won by major decision, 10-1. In Cantelmo’s next match, he dropped a 10-4 decision to Canisteo-Greenwood’s Ryder Slayton.
Speaking of Cantelmo, Dolson said: “The silver lining for him is he’s an 11th-grader, right? So, he got up there, he took the bus ride, he went to the tournament, he got on the mats. He understands what it’s all about.”
Cantelmo said it was the toughest tournament he has ever wrestled in. The competition, he said, was “very strong, just as strong as I thought it would be.”