Wrestling season is an elongated season that demands constant mental and physical preparedness for each dual meet and individual tournament. As the high school season begins to come to a close, wrestlers begin to shift their focus to the postseason tournaments. For the Dryden Lions, a sectional tournament crown is well within sight.
As a team, the Lions have made a strong showing throughout the dual meet season tallying a handful of wins throughout the section and adding three top-10 finishes at tournaments. Working their way into the middle of the pack in the division, the Lions have found themselves, along with the rest of the division, looking up at Tioga, a program that is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. While the team has produced solid numbers throughout the season, individual efforts are soon to be in the spotlight as the Section IV tournament arrives.
All season long Rex Hollenbeck, the head coach of the Lions’ wrestling program has relied on what he calls the “gauntlet” of talented and promising wrestlers to pick up wins when the team needed them the most. Now, he turns to the gauntlet once again, hoping to see it lead the way in the postseason tournament.
At 132 pounds, the Lions will once again look to Samuel Dow to assert his dominance on the field of postseason wrestlers. With a strong showing throughout the season, Dow has gained confidence that is sure to propel him forward. “He has overcome the pressure that comes with competing at a high level,” said Hollenbeck. “From what he has shown this year, he is right there with the wrestlers who are winning sectional titles.”
With Dow’s impressive run through the dual season, he undoubtedly shows the potential to be one of a number of Lions that will stand atop a podium.Another critical piece in the gauntlet of the dual season has been Robert Brotherton, who has been a consistent, top-class wrestler at 138 pounds. Brotherton is a threating force as the postseason looms, tallying fall after fall throughout his dual meet and individual season.
At 145 pounds, the Lions will send the increasingly impressive sophomore Matthew McKewin-Bates. The young wrestler has a natural tent for the sport that makes his coach believe that a run at the podium is very much an achievable goal. “He has so much natural athleticism and has set a goal of wanting to win a title,” said Hollenbeck. “When you put the two of those together, the sky is the limit.”
Continuing through the dominant lower and middle weights, Dryden sees its 152-pound representative hoping to make a deep run in the postseason. Braedon Libbey has produced a solid year with numerous falls and bonus point victories for the Lions. His head coach knows that the junior is “nearly unbeatable” when he is at the peak of his performance.
In the 182 pound bracket, Hollenbeck is expecting a strong showing and a promising cap to the season that Wesley Floor has constructed. “Anything can happen at a weight like 182,” said Hollenbeck. “Wesley is a hard worker and he’s ready for whatever gets thrown at him.”
Hollenbeck is hoping for the return of Floor’s practice partner, Cody Senecal, to the starting lineup at 170. Senecal crafted a dominant season for the Lions before being injured at the Windsor Christmas Tournament. “He’s everything you want in a captain and in a wrestler,” Hollenbeck said. “We hope we can get him healthy to finish out his senior season.”
With the season winding down, Hollenbeck is proud of the work that his team put in and is confident that every weight will showcase the best of Dryden Wrestling. “The team has worked so hard all season,” he said. “We looking for everyone to have big tournaments in the postseason.”
The success through the dual season and the promise of postseason accolades are cornerstones in Hollenbeck’s plan to see Dryden as a powerhouse wrestling program. “We want to be in the same class as those schools who are annual powers, and this is a great start,” he said.
The Lions will have a remaining dual with Norwich before taking on the first of the postseason stages on Feb. 2.
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