Strong qualifier for Lynbrook


Lynbrook added another chapter to its historic two-year run for its wrestling program last Saturday, boasting nine All-Conference wrestlers who will compete in the county championships this weekend at Hofstra University beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

The school finished in second place at its county qualifying tournament at Hewlett High School on Feb. 3, with two of its wrestlers crowned as champions in their respective weight class – Joe Becker (113 pounds) and Matthew Renz (285.) The latter was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler – the third time he’s earned that distinction this season and the fifth tournament he’s won overall.

Lynbrook head coach Richie Renz, who is Matthew’s father, couldn’t hide his excitement as he discussed his son’s prospects heading into the weekend. “He’ll get a good seed in the counties next week and we’ll see how it goes,” the coach said. “Hopefully he can come out on top. That would be the most amazing thing in the world.”

Matthew is one a handful of seniors who Renz said he hopes to see their high school wrestling careers end with a flourish. Other freshly crowned All-Conference senior wrestlers include Matt Ferrante – who was defeated by Becker last week in the 113-pound weight class final -- Tommy Urena, Justin Harbin (both at 182) and Garrett Handel (195.)

“I really want to see them do well and go off on a bang,” Renz said. “It’s going to be over really fast. Before they know it, they’re going to be on to bigger and better things.”

It marked a comeback year for Urena, who missed last year’s wrestling season with an injury. Handel, meanwhile, finished second in his weight class last Saturday in spite of a severely limiting thumb injury. “It was unbelievable to watch him to go out there and wrestle,” said Renz. “He really couldn’t grab anything with his thumb injury. It took a lot of courage and a lot of heart.”

A few undergraduates will also represent Lynbrook at Hofstra: juniors Tyler Heaney (138) and Johnny Dibenedetto (160), and sophomore Jessie Singh (170.)

Notably absent from last Saturday’s tournament with a shoulder injury was freshman Ally Fitzgerald, who, last December, became the first female to win a sanctioned high school wrestling tournament on Long Island.

Having sent three wrestlers to the state championships last year, Renz said he hopes to match that total this year, if not surpass it. But regardless of the results, the coach said he’s thrilled with the way his wrestlers are performing to end the season for a second consecutive year.

“The last couple of years put us back on the map,” Renz said. “Being ranked in the top 10 [in Nassau County], having big winners ... now we’re a force to be reckoned with.

“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “But you’ve got to keep working hard.”