The Center takes the mat

Island wrestler Caden Quinby took on his first opponent Saturday at an AAU meet at Manatee High School. - Monica Simpson | Sun

The Center’s youth wrestling program achieved one of its goals Saturday, under the leadership of Recreation Director Will Schenerlein, participating in the Amateur Athletic Union wrestling meet at Manatee High School.

With 26 elementary and middle school youth on the Island program’s roster, nearly a dozen boys took to the mat in their first competition.

Over the past year, Schenerlein used his coaching and personal wrestling experience to provide solid skills to the little wrestlers at The Center. Ethan Sackett led off the team’s efforts taking the mat with his first match of the day.

Schenerlein coached William Pakbaz, with the assistance of Billy Hermenau, outside of the ring for the Island team’s first win since its re-establishment last October.

Brothers Frankie and Michael Coleman, Liam Coleman, Max Higgins, Caden Quinby, Cale Rudacille, Dylan Sato, and Harrison Schenerlein all took the mat along with Pakbaz and Sackett, gaining much valuable experience and priceless confidence that only comes with competition.

Coach Schenerlein followed up each match with encouraging words and tips for the next time up on the mat. Schenerlein shared his own early wrestling losses to help the young athletes feel better about losses and greenness in the sport.

With their first meet under their belt, The Center team members will go into the next practices knowing which skills and moves they need to hone and learn, preparing the wrestlers for their next competition.