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Wrestling: Mattituck’s Sparaccio wins county title, Most Outstanding Wrestler award

The Mattituck/Greenport/Southold and Shoreham-Wading River wrestling programs share some coaching connections. Nick Fioretti, the Mattituck coach, is a former SWR assistant coach. His predecessor at Mattituck, Cory Dolson, is now an assistant to Joe Condon at SWR. Additionally, Shawn Petretti, the father of SWR senior Tristan Petretti, is a former Mattituck coach who is the Mattituck School District superintendent.

And then there was another similarity: Both teams came away with one champion Saturday from the Suffolk County Division II Championships, which were hosted by Mattituck High School for the first time.

Mattituck senior Joe Sparaccio and SWR junior Joe Steimel both reached the top of the podium in their weight classes. Sparaccio claimed his fourth county championship in five years as well as his third career Most Outstanding Wrestler award, as voted by the coaches.

Given the SWR-Mattituck ties, there was a good deal of interest in the 132-pound final, which saw Sparaccio pin Petretti in 3 minutes, 53 seconds. The only other time the two faced each other was when Sparaccio pinned Petretti in the second period of the 2019 county final at 106 pounds.

“No, it doesn’t get old, especially [since] there was a lot of fans here tonight,” Sparaccio said. “There was a lot of yelling and everything. It felt good.”

The first time the two wrestled each other, Sparaccio wore a Bayport-Blue Point singlet. He transferred to Mattituck at the start of his junior year. By then he was already a bona fide star.

“He’s very talented, gifted, extremely athletic, and, you know, he puts in the work,” said Fioretti.

As Fioretti saw it, Sparaccio, who is 30-0 this season and 141-21 for his career, did what was expected of him. “He executed, didn’t let nerves get to him and he put on a good show,” the coach said. “And ultimately, you know, you want to have fun. You want to make it entertaining for the spectators and do what’s best for wrestling.”

Petretti, whose career record dropped to 120-23, certainly knew the caliber of wrestler he was up against. His mindset was “either pin or lose. I knew I wasn’t gonna win by points.”

Tate Klipstein, left, wrestles Glenn’s Colin Presti at 172 pounds. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

What makes Sparaccio tough, Petretti said, is “he’s just really good in the scramble and that’s where I’m good at, but he’s just a lot better at the scramble than me. That’s where I score my points, so he kind of just shut me down completely.”

Shortly after that bout, Steimel took charge in the 145-pound final. Steimel, who had never placed among the top six in a county tournament before, was in full control against Elwood/John Glenn’s Kevin Vides and leading, 15-3, before the match was stopped at 5:23 because of injury default.

“I finally did it,” said Steimel, who has a 73-20 career record.

“I thought I had good chances,” said Steimel, wearing the champions’ medal around his neck. “I just needed to go out and be aggressive, and that’s what I did and I ended up winning.”

Two other Wildcats reached finals and lost. Chris Colon, a freshman who entered the 118-pound final with a 94-11 career record, lost by injury default at 4:42 to Glenn’s Anthony Mirando. Senior Craig Jablonski held a 10-6 lead in the 138-pound final before a quick change in fortune led to Bayport’s Kyle Barber pinning him at 3:21.

Three Tuckers lost title bouts. James Felakos was pinned by Port Jefferson’s Anthony Evangelista at 1:44 of the 152-pound final, Tate Klipstein was pinned by Glenn’s Colin Presti at 1:45 of the 172-pound bout and Diego Giron was decisioned, 8-2, in the 285-pound match by Glenn’s Melkin Chavez.

“Anyone can win on any given day, and that’s another thing that makes wrestling special,” said Fioretti.

SWR received third-place finishes from Anthony Giordano (189 pounds) and Zack Wilson (215) and a pair of fourths from Tyler Paris (102) and Will Miller (138). Mattituck’s Dominick Giovanniello (285) was third and his teammates Rudy Bruer (145) and Hunter Anderson (189) were both fourth.

Glenn won the team title with 277 points, a hefty 90.5 more than second-place SWR. Mattituck was fifth with 143.5.

Not long after the awards ceremony, Sparaccio was already looking ahead to the state tournament to be held Feb. 25 and 26 at MVP Arena in Albany. He has never won a state title, but he aims to change that.

He said, “I think if I wrestle how I can wrestle, wrestle clean, I could definitely win.”