Mac’s Lyons seeking return to provincials

LYONS PRIDE: Genie Gokhman, Andres Chicas and Philip Le will be returning to the mat in 2012 for William Lyon Mackenzie CI.

2011 season proves golden for Wilson Heights area school

William Lyon Mackenzie threw its weight around at the provincial level.

Ten students travelled to Sudbury in March for OFSAA and came home with two golds for boys Philip Le (38 kg) and Andres Chicas (44 kg) as well as a fourth place finish for Genie Gokhman in 47.5-kg girls division.

It’s the culmination of hard work, said coach Mark O’Brien.

“We felt quite positive because last year we had some OFSAA results so we wanted to continue building on those,” he said. “We’ve been able to connect our wrestlers with the local clubs where I also help out coaching, Team Impact in particular.”

That extra help led to a jam-packed schedule with six practices a week: four on the mat and two fitness sessions.

“It’s definitely a big commitment,” O’Brien said. “A lot of kids aren’t able to make that kind of commitment but it’s what you need to be successful in the sport.”

But ask freshman Le if there’s such a thing as too much practice and he’ll shrug it off. The tenacity shown by coaches and wrestlers alike has contributed to the Lyons’ success.

“(O’Brien) is an amazing coach,” Le said. “He’s pushed us enough to do well at OFSAA.”

Though Le may be small, he’s proven his mettle as he’s wrestled in practice with both Gokhman and Chicas.

“They’re a bit bigger than me but it helps,” he said, adding when he grapples with larger opponents it’s best to use brains over brawn.

As for how the young teen got into the ring, he credits older brother Peter Le for taking him to a practice.

“My brother used to do it so he inspired me to do it, and I just continued what he was doing,” he said.

With another three years ahead of him, it’s a great start.

Having the core of the team returning for next year, including Le, Chicas and Gokhman, O’Brien is optimistic.

“I don’t want to make predictions but I think we’re looking towards another successful year,” he said.

It also helps with friends at other North York schools keeping the sport alive, as O’Brien works with Newtonbrook’s Leonid Kilimnik outside of the school.

“There’s great camaraderie amongst the schools in this area,” O’Brien said.

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