Philip Trowbridge doesn’t consider any particular move his specialty.
The Bellport sophomore is the first to admit that he often acts on instinct when he’s on the mat and that mindset was true again on Saturday as he secured the match-clinching points with 20 seconds left, rallying for a 9-8 decision over Comsewogue’s Martin Helmke in the 126-pound final of the Suffolk League IV wrestling tournament at Newfield High School.
Trowbridge’s win highlighted a banner day for Bellport (6-0) as four Clippers placed first, and 15 placed in the top four, booking their tickets to next weekend’s county tournament at Suffolk County Community College.
“I knew I had to do whatever I could to get off the bottom,” Trowbridge said. “I wanted to use the least amount of energy as I could, but at the same time make him use all his energy.”
Trowbridge faced an uphill battle in the match, falling into a 6-0 deficit midway through the second period. He found his rhythm in the final minute, however, connecting on a handful of moves to wrap up the period 6-5. It was a quick comeback that helped boost Trowbridge’s confidence and didn’t surprise his coaches at all.
“That’s what he’s done all year,” Bellport coach Chuck Maragiolio said. “He’s the kind of kid that you just let him go. You don’t have him switch or fix things, you let him roll and catch guys.”
Both wrestlers continued to battle for control through the third period, but with 36 seconds left, Helmke, who had pinned his way to the final with three victories on the day, took an 8-7 lead.
Trowbridge, still, refused to panic. He, once again, reacted quickly, ignoring the time on the clock and the roar of the crowd as he focused on getting Helmke to the ground.
“I just tried whatever I could at that point,” Trowbridge said. “All that mattered was that it worked. As soon as I knew I won it was just this feeling of everything.”
Bellport came into the day with its sights set on as many first-place finishes as possible and while the Clippers knew they drew a spotlight, the team did its best to ignore any sense of pressure.
“We’ve really come together this season,” said Josh Leidig, who finished first at 160 pounds with 12-0 win in the final. “You’re ready for your match, but you’re also motivating your teammates. We always have each other’s backs.”
The Clippers’ collective focus worked, finishing first in the team totals with 274.5 points. Newfield (253.5) and Comsewogue (156) rounded out the top three, while North Babylon’s Sean Carter was named Most Outstanding Wrestler at 120 pounds.
After the strong showing at the qualifiers Bellport is now ready to turn its attention to counties. The team is confident, but Maragiolio said he hopes to keep things simple in the next few days.
“Everyone of our guys is going to give it their all,” he said. “So we want to keep it going. We’re looking to use this momentum and roll into next weekend.”