Mark Matyka has a lot to be proud about, but his high school wrestling season ended in tears on mat No. 2 at Times Union Center in Albany Saturday.
Matyka appeared on the path to a Cinderella story. The Riverhead junior was a wild-card entry to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships. Then, after losing his first-round Division I match at 99 pounds Friday by a major decision, 12-4, to sixth-seeded Monsignor Farrell sophomore Terry Adams, Matyka battled back in the consolation rounds. Later that day he recorded 6-2 decisions over Malone sophomore Sam Searles and Clarence freshman Aiden Rabideau.
That advanced Matyka into a consolation quarterfinal Saturday morning. A win over eighth-seeded Jamesville DeWitt eighth-grader Myles Griffin would have brought Matyka all-state status and kept him on the path toward his pursuit of third place.
It wasn’t to be.
Early in the consolation match, Matyka was penalized a point for an illegal hold and then found himself in a 3-0 hole following a takedown. It went downhill from there for him as Griffin went on to pin Matyka in 2 minutes, 32 seconds.
“Yes, it’s very painful,” Riverhead coach Tom Riccio said afterward.
Matyka ended the season with a 38-10 record. He is 82-18 for his career.
Matyka was not immediately available for an interview.
Riccio said as painful as Saturday’s loss was, Matyka will benefit from his experience of competing alongside the top high school wrestlers in the state.
“Getting here is big,” Riccio said. “It will be experience for next year. … It’s an experience that he’s not going to forget and it will make him a better wrestler next year.”
Another honor for Riccio. Tom Riccio will be honored and presented with a plaque during a ceremony before tonight’s finals for his service to wrestling as a wrestler, referee and coach. Riccio, 75, who has been involved in the sport for 62 years, will also be inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in April as part of a class that also includes Don Jantzen, the late former Shoreham-Wading River coach. Riccio said, “It’s a big year for me.”
Photo caption: Riverhead junior Mark Matyka, left, posted a pair of wins before falling in the Division I consolation quarterfinal at 99 pounds. (Credit: Ray Nelson)