Michael Chaires has achieved a lot in wrestling, but helping to resuscitate the Christian Brothers Academy program may be his greatest accomplishment.
The defending state champion has brought new interest to the team. Where two years ago the Brothers had a handful of wrestlers, they now have a full squad.
Having a kid ranked No. 1 in the nation doesn't hurt, said CBA coach Brent Becker. "Kids want to be part of a team with him on it."
"It's helped me out because I have to keep my attitude in check now," said Chaires. "I know (my teammates) look up to me, so I have to set a good example."
Becker has also been a factor in CBA's resurgence. Since returning to the team in 2005, Becker has created an atmosphere that instills discipline in his wrestlers, including Chaires.
"At one point in time, I watched Michael get frustrated on the mat," said Becker. "So I told him he needs to respect everyone on the mat, and he's done that."
The Brothers still have a long way to go to become a Section II power. CBA placed 13th out of 18 teams at Saturday's Linda Stuart Memorial Tournament at Colonie Central High School, finishing behind seven other Section II programs in the process including smaller schools such as Hudson Falls, Cobleskill-Richmondville and Whitehall.
However, Becker said his wrestlers will be better for the experience of going to events such as the one at Colonie.
"The thing I'm doing is taking the kids to tougher tournaments because Michael (Chaires) needs tougher tournaments," he said. "That's why we're going to Eastern States this year."
Chaires was in fine form at the Linda Stuart tournament, winning the 160-pound division title by sweeping his three opponents including a first-period pin against Whitehall's Luke Rehm in the finals.