During the 2014-2015 school year, LIU Post reinstated wrestling, a sport that had a long history at the university. Before last season, the last wrestling match at LIU was held in 1988. The comeback has sparked great feedback from alumni and former wrestlers alike.
Warren Hannas was a wrestler for the then C.W. Post Pioneers when their wrestling program was in its hay-day in the 1960s. Like other former LIU Post wrestlers, Hannas has embraced the revived program in Brookville. Hannas, now 70 years young, exclaimed proudly, “Long Island wrestlers have dominated New York state high school programs for many decades!”
Hannas, who wrestled for Post as a senior, had wrestled at Franklin and Marshall College for a couple of seasons before transferring to finish his degree at Post. When he joined Post’s wrestling team, the coach was Jim Davey. Davey was the man responsible for catapulting Hannas’ wrestling career. “He encouraged me to join the team in my senior year having demonstrated my abilities in the wrestling room in my junior year,” Hannas recalled fondly.
The importance of a coach to his wrestlers cannot be overstated. Hannas stressed how important Davey was to him. “He drew talent and cultivated both technique and disciplined athletic fitness. He was a man that you wanted to push yourself to your optimum and deliver for.”
After he graduated from Post, Hannas still had a desire to be a part of the sport he loved. He had been very successful on the mat, but wanted to instill values in the younger generation of wrestlers. So, when he became an English teacher at Village School District in the Stony Brook region, he mentored seventh, eighth, and ninth graders and taught them how to wrestle. Even to this day, Hannas still has the itch to coach wrestling. He assists a wrestling program in Madison, Conn., where his two grandsons are beginning to hone their skills.
Hannas, who has seen his fair share of wrestling matches, gives young wrestlers a piece of advice: “Never underestimate your opponent and find out your biggest weakness and work on it.” How can you expect to get better when you’re never willing to improve? Hannas was and still is open to constructive criticism of the sport he loves.
The LIU Post wrestling team, with a roster of 21 members this season, is currently coached by Joe Patrovich. Patrovich, who was inducted to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2012, has coached 21 county champions, 13 state finalists, 10 All-America selections and eight state champions and been named coach of the year in Nassau and Suffolk.
The newly reinstated LIU Post team is currently ranked in the top 10 in the latest D2wrestle.com Super Region I rankings, and they still have plenty of matches left. “Wrestling is like a chess match with your body,” Hannas said. Each move has a bunch of possible counters and there are then counters to those counters. “If skills and training are equal, the victory can depend on a slight nuance or a stronger desire [to win],” he added.
This article was originally published in the Pioneer, the award-winning student newspaper of LIU Post, www.liupostpioneer.com, and is republished here by Blank Slate Media with the permission of the Pioneer.