Who’s the top team in Division 2 this year? Our prediction is Mattituck, both from a dual and tournament perspective.
Why? For starters, the team returns a trio of top four placers from last year’s state tournament James Hoeg (4th at 170), Tanner Zagarino (3rd at 195) and Jack Bokina (4th at 113).
“It was big for our program to have all three of those guys finish in the top four,” head coach Cory Dolson said. “There were some mixed emotions, because we felt that we could’ve done better. When you get two guys into the semis, you want to punch a ticket to the finals. But it was a great accomplishment and they’re back with their eyes on the prize, trying to win state titles.”
In addition, Luke Bokina returns after winning a bout in his debut appearance in the state capital.
“Luke wrestles everywhere. He just missed out on 99 pounds last year and was small at 106," Dolson said. "It’s tough having a twin brother who’s already two-time All-State [Jack Bokina], but Luke is a very, very solid wrestler who is looking to prove himself and get out of that shadow a little bit.”
Dolson said there are other members of the squad who have what it takes to make the trip to the Times Union Center this year as competitors, including Suffolk second place finishers TJ Beebe, Thomas Hoeg and Jake Skrezec.
“TJ Beebe is one of our best guys," Dolson said. "He’s a three-time runner up in Section 11 and hasn’t been at his ideal weight most of the time. He lost by a point in the finals last year to All-State wrestler Brett Frole and just needs to get over that county finals hurdle. He wins a lot of matches and is a very important kid to our team. He’s looking to finally get upstate, at either 132 or 138, and we think he can do some damage .”
Thomas Hoeg was edged 3-2 in the 120 pound Suffolk title match a year ago and will be up several weight classes this season.
“Thomas has been wrestling with us for years," Dolson said. "He’s another kid who’s been close and who will be key for us at the end of the year. We think he’s someone who can not only get upstate, but score points for us.”
Skrezec lost in overtime in the Sectional qualifier at 160 and will be a threat, as will third place finishers such as Gage Suglia and Carmine Vergari.
“Gage may be under the radar, but he’s a tough, strong, athletic kid who will win a lot of matches," Dolson said. "Carmine beat the guy who won the weight class last year during the season. We just need to peak him a little better this season.”
The squad will see challenges from start to finish.
“We definitely have a tough schedule,” Dolson said. “We’ll be battled tested for the end of the year. We’re seeking out competition and we’ll let the chips fall where they may.”
Last year, Mattituck was honored before the state finals as the co-#1 dual team in Division 2, along with Warsaw.
“It was nice to be recognized as one of the top teams around. It was a good experience for the kids, especially those who didn’t make it to the state tournament individually - it’s always nice to be part of something special as a team," Dolson said. "We have a lot of guys back and they’re hungry to do even better this year. We’re excited about our team. We have a lot of seniors and it’s time to step up and get the job done.”
Prior to the 2015-16 season, Mattituck had two All-State wrestlers in school history. Last year alone they added three more and now, Dolson said, it’s time to have the first state champ.
The Tuckers have candidates to do that … and a group to bring home a tournament title as well.