The Lynbrook Titans Wrestling program is expanding in its 41st year, as a record 33 children are competing on the travel team and 97 are enrolled overall.
“Five years ago, we had less than 10 wrestlers per tournament,” coach Mathew Hollenstein said. “At any time, we travel to tournaments with no less than 15, so we have definitely progressed substantially.”
The Titans program was shaken up last year, with an extra day being added to the practice schedule. The team now meets on Wednesdays in addition to Thursdays and Saturdays, and practices begin six weeks earlier and end six weeks later. They have also continued dual meets with East Meadow and other areas.
The added practices have translated to success on the mat. Last year, six children qualified for the state tournament by winning the Super Regionals. Earlier, this month, 14 wrestlers advanced in the counties. In order to move on to states, the wrestlers had to finish within the top six in their division. Seventh-grader Dylan Vanegas and fifth-grader Dani Zhanay placed first in the counties.
“Dylan has progressed year after year, not only on the mat, but off the mat,” Hollenstein said. “He is our leader. If I were to call anyone the team captain, it’s Dylan. He talks to teammates before matches, warms them up with drills and gets them prepared.”
Hollenstein also praised Zhanay, the lone female wrestler on the tournament team and said she has shown a lot of promise in her second year.
“Her dedication and work ethic in the wrestling room has really paid off on the mat this year,” he said. “We’ve seen just an unbelievable progression from her and that is 100 percent due to her work ethic in the room.”
The second-place wrestlers in the counties were seventh-grader Lucas Cortazar, third-grader Bryce Boccio and second-grader Alex Daly. Others who placed included fourth-grader Markus Daly (third-pace); fourth-grader Mark Gorny (third place); sixth-grader Elias Vanegas (third place); fourth-grader Favian Vanegas (third place); fifth-grader Anthony Caputo (third place); fifth-grader Lucas Brown (fourth place); sixth-grader Jason Zisel (fourth place); third-grader Luke Zisel (fifth place); and third-grader Lias Vanderos (fifth place).
Hollenstein said he is excited for the future because most of the team comprises 8 and 9 year olds who are already displaying skill.
“We are not only expanding our program, but we are young,” he said. “Those 8 and 9 year olds are going to be with us for a while, so we foresee not only us competing as we do today, but to be even tougher down the road, because if all these kids stay with it, we should be even tougher in years to come. The coaches and I couldn’t be more proud of every individual child. They work really hard and our team truly is our Titans family.”