Former wrestlers reunite in Lynbrook


The Lynbrook High School wrestling program has a long and storied history, from championship teams to standout athletes and decades of high-caliber coaches and students in between. To celebrate its history and to share a few laughs and memories from the past, the wrestling program hosted its third annual Alumni Night last Friday as the Owls squared off against Valley Stream South.

Lynbrook cruised to a 64-18 victory, including four consecutive pins to start the match, but the highlight for many were the dozens of former wrestlers watching from the LHS bleachers.

Varsity head coach Richie Renz and Lynbrook Titans coaches Hilary Becker and Kevin Murphy put the event together and said it was their best turnout so far — about 50 former wrestlers from the Class of 1976 to the Class of 2012 were on hand.

Renz introduced each of the wrestlers prior to the match as they were greeted with a warm welcome from the crowd, which he said was his favorite part of the night.

Pace Kessenich, who graduated from LHS in 1978, made the trip up to Lynbrook with his son, who is in eighth grade and now learning to wrestle, from Baltimore, Md. When he first received an email about the event he didn’t think he’d be able to attend, but his son asked to see his hometown and meet some of his teammates. Kessenich vividly remembers a packed gymnasium at LHS in the 1970s when Valley Stream South came to town, and said it was nice to relive those memories.

Kessenich said he would give his son a tour of Lynbrook the following day and enjoyed catching up with his friends. “I haven’t seen some of these guys for 30 years,” he said.

Class of 1999 graduate Sal Mannarino came from New Jersey to attend. He said it didn’t take long for the wrestling alumnus to start swapping stories from their high school days.

“I wanted to see the people I grew up with,” Mannarino said. “It was a little bit of a trek to get here but it was certainly well worth it.”

Mannarino began wrestling with the Titans, which teaches the sport to kids ages 6 to 12. Becker, who has been a Titans’ coach since 1981 and a members of the LHS Class of 1978, said the event started as an idea to get former wrestlers together once a year.

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