The lights in the Center Moriches High School gym were dimmed, a spotlight hanging over the wrestling mat glared down and the announcement was made, “Ladies and gentlemen, your 2020 Section XI Division II finalists!”
With that, the 30 wrestlers left standing (including six from Mattituck/Greenport/Southold and five from Shoreham-Wading River) marched into the gym to hearty applause Friday night. Some of them were about to wrestle in the biggest match of their young lives. To the winners went a coveted place in the state tournament.
How much pressure is there wrestling under the spotlight, literally, on such a big stage with so much at stake?
“It’s a little overwhelming,” Mattituck senior Tyler Marlborough said. “It can be. I felt sick before I got out there on the mat.”
Marlborough and 14 others must have felt considerably better afterward as the newest class of Suffolk Division II champions.
Colby Suglia earned his second straight county title while both Jackson Cantelmo and Marlborough picked up their first for Mattituck. Shoreham’s Craig Jablonski became a first-time champion. All of them punched their tickets to Albany for the NYSPHSAA Championships Feb. 28 and 29.
Suglia (36-5, 108 career wins) lived up to his No. 1 seed at 220 pounds. The senior’s final opponent, SWR’s 6-7 Connor DeLumen (29-6), posed a challenge with his length. But Suglia overcame that, pinning DeLumen at 3 minutes, 1 second.
“Winning it two years in a row, it hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Suglia said. “I’m sure it will sink in when I’m a little older, probably … but right now it’s just a good feeling and I’m happy I did it.”
“The first one was definitely a lot more exciting,” he added. “… It’s still just a good feeling. There’s nothing like it.”
Suglia had scored a first-period pin against DeLumen, a senior with a 72-19 career record, earlier this season.
Mattituck coach Cory Dolson said other wrestlers stayed away from the 220 weight class in order to avoid Suglia. Among them was a teammate, Marlborough, who was conflicted about whether to risk going up a weight class to 285. He weighs 230 pounds.
“I won the first tournament of the season [at 285] and I was pretty surprised and I got my confidence rolling,” said Marlborough (33-7).
The senior’s confidence must have been sky high after he scored all six of his points in the third period for a 6-1 defeat of Elwood/John Glenn’s Ryan Kang (24-7) in their final. He scored a takedown, some back points and won a championship. “When he’s scoring points, he can beat a lot of guys,” said Dolson.
Marlborough said, “This means more than I can describe, to be honest with you.”
An all-Mattituck final at 160 pounds produced Mattituck’s first champion of the evening as Cantelmo (34-7), a junior, registered a 5-3 defeat of senior Malachi Boisseau (31-9).
Cantelmo, who has a 3-0 record against Boisseau, said, “Coming in I was like, ‘I have to win. I have to make a big impact this year.’ ”
“It’s always a little weird when you’re wrestling your teammate, especially in a match that is that important, but I think he stuck with his strengths,” Dolson said of Cantelmo. “He knows Malachi really, really well.”
How was it for Dolson watching two of his wrestlers battle for a county title?
“Listen, for me, I know we have somebody going to Albany, I just don’t know which one yet,” he said.
Shoreham’s Jablonski (41-4) had an 0-3 record against Glenn’s Anthony Mirando entering their 106-pound final. But a first-period, single-leg takedown brought Jablonski two points that stood for a 2-1 victory. “It feels good to finally win a match against him,” said the sophomore.
Shoreham coach Joe Condon said Jablonski is one of the hardest workers on his team. “He got the takedown and rode him out and didn’t give any real points, you know,” Condon said. “He wrestled real smart against a good opponent. He has no fear. He just attacks everyone.”
Shoreham was in first place, 10 points ahead of Mount Sinai, entering the finals. But the Wildcats finished second in the team scoring with 248 points to Mount Sinai’s 261. Mattituck was fourth with 201.
It had been only minutes after the tournament ended and Cantelmo was already thinking ahead to the next challenge.
He said, “It’s like already time to get back to work, get ready for states.”
Notes: In other finals, Shoreham’s Chris Colon (39-6), Connor Pearce (41-6) and Jake Jablonski (37-6) were runners-up. Colon lost, 2-1, to Mount Sinai’s Brayden Fahrbach at 99 pounds; Pearce was an 8-3 loser to Bayport-Blue Point’s Joe Sparacio, the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler, at 120; and Jake Jablonski lost, 6-2, at 132 to Mount Sinai’s Brenden Goodrich, the tournament’s Champion of Champions.
Mattituck, meanwhile, had two second-place finishers in addition to Boisseau. Cole DiGregorio (28-10) was beaten, 10-2, by Glenn’s Thomas Giaramita at 152. Ethan Schmidt (30-6), a two-time county finalist with 98 career wins, was pinned by Mount Sinai’s Joe Goodrich at 4:52.