NORTH FORK INVITATIONAL
Every second of a wrestling match counts. With the right move (or the wrong move), a match can turn in an instant, the proverbial blink of an eye.
Such was the case in the 170-pound final of the 18th annual North Fork Invitational on Saturday night. Mattituck/Greenport/Southold sophomore Tanner Zagarino was trailing by 3 points in the dying moments of the match and looked spent, but he still had something left in him. With about 10 seconds to go, Zagarino, the No. 1 seed, took down Riverhead senior Raheem Brown for 2 points and kept him down, picking up 3 back points for a dramatic 10-8 triumph at Mattituck High School. It was his third tournament title this season.
Later, after all the matches were completed, Zagarino was headed for an interview when he was stopped in his tracks by the announcement that he had been selected the tournament’s Champion of Champions. “One second,” he said with a smile to a reporter before heading off to pick up his plaque.
In Zagarino’s previous two bouts, he pinned Arsen Cora of Connetquot at 1:40 and scored a 7-1 decision over Griffin Arcuri of Half Hollow Hills East to gain entry into the final.
Zagarino wasn’t the only Mattituck/Greenport/Southold wrestler to be presented with a champion’s medal. In the preceding match, another Tuckers sophomore, the top-seeded James Hoeg, found the energy to persevere, 5-3, in a tough 160-pound final against No. 2 John Lepak of Connetquot. Afterward, Hoeg looked dazed and fatigued as his arm was raised by the referee.
It was Hoeg’s 102nd career win. He had picked up his 100th win with his pin of Mike Corelli of West Babylon at 2:31 of their quarterfinal.
A third Tucker, senior Adam Goode, earned the right to wear the team’s special new singlets for the finals. Goode, the No. 1 seed at 195, was defeated by No. 3 Jake McKeown of Miller Place, 6-2, in their title bout.
In addition to Brown, Riverhead sent two other wrestlers into the finals, but Ed Matyka, a defending tournament champion, and Cody Weiss, both seniors, lost their championship matches. Matyka was pinned by Anthony Sobotker of North Babylon at 3:52 of their contest at 120. Weiss, wrestling in the 126-pound final against Jack Gold of Rocky Point, lost by 5-1.
North Babylon snapped Connetquot’s four-year run as the tournament’s team champion with 227 1/2 points. Rocky Point was second among the 12 teams with 217.
Mattituck/Greenport/Southold, which is ranked first among small schools in the current New York State Sportswriters Association rankings, was fifth with 166. Riverhead was seventh with 123 1/2 and Shoreham-Wading River came in 12th with 13.
Dashea Edwards of West Babylon, who was seeded third at 138, was honored as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler. Edwards pinned James Matias of Rocky Point at 1:13 of their final.