Mattituck senior Brian Pelan had been here before. As he warmed up for his 132-pound championship match at the Suffolk County Division II wrestling championships at Center Moriches, Pelan's mind raced with thoughts of the defeats he suffered in that match each of the last two seasons.
"That's fueled my fire for the last two years," Pelan said. "Losing as a sophomore I was a little upset about but losing last year tore me apart. I used it to help push me through this year to help me get where I am right now."
Right now Pelan is a county champion, one of seven from Mattituck, and heading to Albany to compete in the state tournament in two weeks. Pelan defeated pinned Smithtown Christian's Jeremiah Shaw to win his title. "It was better than I could have imagined," he said, "and a sigh of relief to come out the winner."
Mattituck scored 333.5 points to win the team championship. Bobby Becker was Mattituck's only repeat champion at 138 pounds and was named the tournament's champion of champions. Other winners included Jack Bokina (99), James Hoeg (132), Christian Angelson (170), Sal Loverde (182) and Adam Goode (195).
Port Jefferson finished second with 200.5.
The Royals' Tristin DeVincenzo was another wrestler who knows about close calls. DeVincenzo finished third the past two years and had a first-hand look at the difficult road that must be traveled to win a state championship. DeVincenzo took the trip upstate as a spectator last winter as his brother Matteo made it to the state final.
This year both DeVincenzo brothers will be in the state capital as participants, part of a contingent of five Port Jefferson wrestlers who will be competing for a state title in two weeks. "It's a great feeling because we practice together every day and we're training partners," Tristin said."
Matteo picked up a technical fall at 106 against Lucas Kraus of Hampton Bays in just 1:49. Tristin followed with a 15-3 decision over Bryan Larsen of Babylon at 126.
Ryan Woodward (160), Paul Cavanagh (152) and Kyle Fiske (285) will be joining the DeVincenzo's in Albany. Woodward and Cavanagh, friends and practice partners, have each been to the state tournament but never together.
"I've been working with him since tenth grade and we never stopped working," Woodward, who was named the tournament's most outstanding wrestler, said. "Now we're finally here and it's nice to be able to go up with your friends."