Like father, like son for the Lukens family with Dan and sophomore Tylynn becoming the first father-son duo in Manatee High history to wrestle for coach Andrew Gugliemini.
“This is Gug’s first one,” said Dan, a volunteer assistant for the Hurricanes. “He’s like a father figure for my son and I love it.”
Added Tylynn: “It’s crazy. I didn’t even know about that.”
Ever the prankster, Gugliemini’s take on the matter: “It just means I’m getting old.”
On a more serious note, the Florida Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame coach spoke of some similarities between the father and son he coached.
“They’re both students of the game,” said Gugliemini, who has coached the Hurricanes for 27 seasons and last year racked up his 500th career victory. “They think about how they wrestle. They don’t just go out there and wrestle.
“Other than that, Ty’s having a little more success. Hopefully when this weekend is over Ty can one-up his daddy.”
Tylenn, a district and region champion, sports a 61-1 record. At the prestigious Ippolito Tournament at perennial power Brandon this season, he was named one of two outstanding wrestlers.
The 160-pounder is among five Manatee wrestlers competing Friday and Saturday in the Class 3A state championships at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee.
By comparison, Dan was a two-time state qualifier (1996 and 1998) for the Hurricanes, a run broken by his junior year spent in Ohio. He wrestled at 125 pounds in 1996 and 130 in 1998 when he made it to the state semifinals.
Tylynn wrestled at the high school level in New York, ranking fifth at 106 pounds and second at 120 in Suffolk County as a seventh-grader and eighth-grader, respectively. As a freshman in the 138-pound class, he was a state runner-up in the Catholic Division.
A longtime New York City police officer, Dan suffered a back injury on the job before retiring and moving back to Manatee County last summer. A major reason was so Tylynn could wrestle for Gugliemini at his alma mater.
“I always told coach Gug if I retired early I’m going to bring (Tylynn) back and he’ll wrestle for you,” Dan said. “I came back here because I wanted my son to have the experience I had with the coach I had.”
Dan noted how the coach motivated him back in the day, much in the same way he continues to motivate his wrestlers: “When (Gugliemini) trains you, he trains you to believe in yourself.”
That belief perhaps is why Tylynn won a pivotal semifinal match in the regionals. Trailing Kissimmee Osceola’s Nolin Eaddy, ranked second in Class 3A, 2-0 in the waning seconds, Tylynn got an escape and a takedown with five seconds left for a 3-2 win.
“Anywhere else with any other coach he’s not going to do that,” Dan said, adding that his son has “always had the skill, but he’s never had the belief.”
“Gug is just an unbelievable coach,” Tylynn said. “He takes time after practice to talk to me about life, about wrestling. He’s just there for me.
“Now, I basically go out to wrestle like I have nothing to lose. My No. 1 goal is to win states. I’m not going there to play around.”
Of Manatee’s five wrestlers headed to states, Tylynn is one of four sophomores. Aside from senior Brandon Dossey, who at 220 is a defending state champion and has a 17-1 record, the others are Angelo Dedona, 52-10 at 106; Noah Wadle, 53-0 at 113; and Brandon Tackett, 45-16 at 120.
“Our sophomore class is very good; a lot of talent,” Tylynn said. “We just motivate each other to keep working hard.”
Aside from the aforementioned Manatee High wrestlers, three others from Manatee County will compete in the state meet.
Saint Stephen’s has two wrestlers in Class 1A — Jake Manning (38-7 at 126 pounds) and Darron Robinson (16-10 at 220 pounds).
Southeast’s Cameron Rosario (32-4 at 220 pounds) earned a trip to Kissimmee in Class 1A.