As Riverhead High School’s wrestling coach, Wade “Rocky” Davey, saw it, the 14th annual North Fork Invitational was a mixed bag for his team. “There was some real good and there was some real disappointments, too, along the way,” he said.
One could place Ethan Zaweski and Gabe Rice in the “real good” category. The two Riverheaders both won titles in the tournament at Mattituck High School on Saturday. The second-seeded Zaweski did so in the 103-pound weight class, and No. 1 seeded Rice finished atop the field at 140 pounds.
While it was the fifth career tournament title for Rice, a senior, it was the first for Zaweski, and the sophomore was excited about it.
“I can’t believe I did it,” he said. “I really can’t believe it.”
But he did. Zaweski took the top honor in his weight class by pinning the No. 1 seed, Anthony Scaffedi of Connetquot at 1 minute 27 seconds of their final. It was Zaweski’s third pin in as many matches on the day. Earlier, he had stopped Joe Longo of Half Hollow Hills East in 23 seconds before downing Christian Gilbert of Connetquot at 5:24 in the semifinals.
“I think I wrestled good,” Zaweski said. “I did not give up at all.”
Zaweski wasn’t the only one happy about his triumph. Davey was pleased about it as well, saying: “Ethan has been coming on. He’s getting better every time he goes out on the mat, and I think he’s starting to realize how good he can actually be. I couldn’t be more happy for a kid who works as hard as anybody in the room and that deserves to win.”
Rice (16-4) showed himself to be a deserving champion as well. In the final, he decisioned Vin Loscalzo of Rocky Point, 7-4. Rice had pinned his first two opponents, Charlie Canepa of Rocky Point in 34 seconds and Andre Vega of Mattituck/Greenport in 51 seconds.
“I felt I wrestled good,” Rice said. “I tried my hardest, that’s all that counts.”
Two other Blue Waves reached the finals, but had to settle for silver medals. Top-seeded Christian Krumbiegel was beaten, 8-2, by No. 7 Joey Gates of Connetquot in the 130-pound final. Then, Pat Thomas lost a 5-4 decision to Dan Clancey of North Babylon in the 135 final.
In addition, Riverhead sent Mark Andrejack (96), Charles Bartlett (152) and Shawn Yarborough (285) into the semifinals.
Host Mattituck/Greenport managed only one finalist, tournament favorite Brandon Lake, and he had to settle for a runner-up spot at 189 pounds. Lake lost to No. 2 seed Chris Golonoski of Half Hollow Hills West, 4-3, in the final.
“I felt a lot of pressure,” Lake said. “I was the only one out there and everyone was counting on me, and I felt I let them down a little bit.”
The Tuckers, however, put seven wrestlers in the semifinals and finished fourth among 11 teams in the team scoring with 149 points.
Connetquot cruised to the team title with 357 points, well ahead of second-place Rocky Point (232). Riverhead was fifth with 146.
But the semifinals weren’t kind to the Tuckers. Mynor Javier (112 pounds), Brian Pelan (119), Vega, Jeff Strider (140), Chris Baglivi (171) and Jorge Perez (189) all suffered semifinal losses.
Regardless, the Tuckers still made a better showing than they did in last year’s tournament.
“We wrestled extremely better than we did last year,” Mattituck/Greenport Coach Cory Dolson said. “Obviously, you get seven in the semis, you want more in the finals, but I thought for the most part we had a pretty decent day. That was definitely our worst round, the semifinal round.”
To reach the final, Lake pinned Vin Quagliatta of Hills West in 29 seconds in the quarterfinals and then put the shoulders of Connetquot’s Miguel Clemente to the mat at 3:45 of their semifinal.
Lake, who was second in Suffolk County Division II last season at 171 pounds, has a 23-5 record, with most of those wins coming by pins. “It’s just more experience is what it comes down to,” he said. “I’ve been wrestling for five years. I’ve been with Coach Dolson for four. This year it really started to click for me.”
Matt Ross of Rocky Point, who scored a 6-4 decision over Tyler Grimaldi of Hills West in the 145-pound final, was selected as the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler. The champion of champions award went to North Babylon’s Clancey.
The caliber of wrestling was high, said Dolson. “It’s always tough,” he said. “We bring in a lot of tough schools. You got Connetquot, Rocky Point, North Babylon, Riverhead, Miller Place, Calhoun, a tough Nassau team. It’s a good tournament. For us to finish fourth, I’ll be honest, I didn’t think we’d finish that high, so I was happy.”