So far, so good for Mark Matyka. Make that undefeated Mark Matyka.
The Riverhead High School senior has been enjoying a seamless wrestling season to date, with the exception of some occasional knee pain that he doesn’t consider serious.
Matyka recently reached a milestone by collecting his 100th career win. On Saturday night he added to that win total, remaining undefeated on the season and capturing the 106-pound title in the 21st annual North Fork Invitational at Mattituck High School.
Matyka (24-0) seemingly breezed through the competition, beating Patchogue-Medford’s Sean Beatty in the final by technical fall. The score was 17-1 when the match was stopped after 4 minutes, 22 seconds.
How did he look?
“Excellent,” said Riverhead coach Tom Riccio.
In the two matches he wrestled before the final, the top-seeded Matyka pinned Mattituck’s Dan Puluc in 1:29 and Half Hollow Hills East’s Jared Gallub in 2:42.
“It was great,” Matyka said. “I knew there wasn’t going to be a lot of challenging kids in my weight class. I wrestled hard in each match and I got two pins and a tech.”
Did Riccio have any words of advice for Matyka going into the final?
“I don’t give him any advice,” the coach said. “He probably knows as much as I do.”
Matyka, who has a 106-18 career record, was leading by 13-1 in the second period of the final when he needed to use some injury time. He said he felt a “click” in his left knee. “It started a couple of weeks ago,” he said. “It will happen any time in a match and it’s a lot of pain but it subsides very fast, so I just stretch it out real fast and I’m back on the mat.
“It didn’t bother me until the final. Sometimes it happens in a match, sometimes it doesn’t. It just depends on the position I’m in and stuff.”
Matyka, a Suffolk County Division I runner-up last season who finished sixth among state public school wrestlers, said he isn’t concerned about it. “I’ve been stretching it out a lot,” he said. “I’m icing it a lot, so I’m going to be good.”
And what about that spotless 24-0 record?
“It doesn’t really matter because all that really matters is leagues and counties, but it’s definitely icing on the cake,” he answered.
Matyka wasn’t Riverhead’s only champion in the tournament. Another senior, Chris Debose, walked away a champion at 182 pounds. He pinned North Babylon’s Joe Kolk in 2:45.
“I wrestled good,” Debose said. “My last match was my best match.”
Debose is a relative newcomer to the sport, having taken up wrestling only two and a half years ago. He has come a long way since his sophomore season when he went 9-19. Last season he was a league champion and he earned his 20th win Saturday.
“It’s like a great feeling because of the fact that I wrestled guys that have been wrestling since [they were] six years old, out of the womb,” Debose said. “They’ve been wrestling all their life, then I just come [along]. Some people in tournaments say that I’m just like an overnight sensation.”
The top-seeded Debose advanced to the final by pinning Connetquot’s Alex Batista in 55 seconds and Connetquot’s Kevin Jorgensen in 1:31.
“He did what Chris does all the time — he wrestled hard,” said Riccio.
Riverhead had nine top-six finishers and the Blue Waves totaled a 38-24 record. Among them were Jared Cawley (third at 120 pounds), Ralph Gray (third at 145), Lawrence Bishop (third at 170), Sean Prunty (fourth at 160), Ronan Cruz (fourth at 285), Shareef Leonard (fourth at 285) and Carlos Perez (sixth at 220).
Freeport finished first among the 10 teams with 222 points. Riverhead was sixth with 171 1/2.
“It wasn’t hard, but it wasn’t easy,” said Debose, his winner’s medal dangling around his neck. “When I work hard for a win and then I’m gassed, he’s gassed, but I keep going, it just feels great that your hand got lifted afterward. Even being tired, you still went the best you can go.”
Photo caption: Riverhead’s Mark Matyka, top, beat Patchogue-Medford’s Sean Beatty in the North Fork Invitational’s 106-pound final by technical fall. (Credit: Garret Meade)