The Lynbrook Titans Wrestling Program is running strong in its 42nd year — with wrestlers excelling on and off the mat.
“The kids have just been having a fantastic year,” coach Mathew Hollenstein said. “A lot of the kids on the tournament team, we’ve had them for three, four or five years, so to see them grow from where they started to where they are today, it’s special.”
The program is divided into the tournament team and a practice squad for younger, less experienced wrestlers. Hollenstein said there are about 80 wrestlers overall, 27 of which practice as part of the tournament team.
The tournament squad had a tremendous showing on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 2, at the Nassau County championship tournament at Long Beach High School. Two wrestlers, fourth-grader Bryce Boccio and fifth-grader Mark Gorny, placed first in the 93- and 58-pound weight class, respectively, and a host of others finished in second through fifth place.
The second place wrestlers included Mathew’s son, fourth-grader Tristan Hollenstein (63 pounds); fourth-grader Brendan Barkley (93); and third-grader AJ Mastrande (105). Third-place finishers were sixth-grader Anthony Caputo (67) and fourth-grader Elias Vandoros (84), while eighth-grader Alex Daly (114) finished fifth.
Bryce won his weight class after a tough bout in the semifinals, where he was able to defeat an opponent he had lost to in the past. “It was his best technical match that me and the coaches have seen him wrestle,” Hollenstein said.
He added that his son Tristan also wrestled extremely tough, and praised Anthony for wrestling a scrappy tournament despite losing to the eventual 67-pound winner. “From when he started to where he is now, he’s really progressed to be a really good, young wrestler,” Hollenstein said. “His work ethic in practice and his concentration and focus, it just shows his confidence has grown.”
Bryce and Mark now advance to the Super Regionals at Hofstra University on Feb. 23, which comprises wrestlers from all of Long Island and the five boroughs.
The Titans program was shaken up in 2018, 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.
The Titans will host their annual Jamboree event on March 7, where members will face one another in a round-robin tournament based on weight class. Hollenstein said the group has shown a toughness as individuals and as a team.
“Wrestling is a sport when you go out and you’re by yourself, so you only have yourself to deal with your successes and issues on the mat,” he said. “We couldn’t be more proud of them as coaches.”