For the first time in several years, the Colonie wrestling team has a clear shot at winning a division title in the Suburban Council.
The Garnet Raiders have moved away from powerhouses Shenendehowa and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake into the league's South Division a result of the Suburban Council's decision to realign into two geographical divisions after years of dividing by school size. Shen and BH-BL are in the monstrously tough North Division along with Ballston Spa, Niskayuna and Saratoga Springs, while Colonie's list of South Division foes include Guilderland, Bethlehem, Averill Park, Mohonasen and Columbia.
I would have to say (Shen) and Burnt Hills are the class of the league, but they are coming closer (to the pack)," said Colonie coach Matt Stein. "Hopefully, we can edge closer to those guys."
The Garnet Raiders have a group of solid wrestlers returning from last year's team including Section II tournament place finishers A.J. Monin, Eliah Golding, Jason Chudzinski, Mike Wutzer and Lisa Anson.
"I'm pretty excited," said Stein. "I've got six or seven guys who have a lot of varsity experience back."
Heavyweight Monin and middleweights Golding and Chudzinski will be counted upon to deliver individual victories like they did last year and potentially some Sectional titles.
"We think they're the ones who are right there. They should be in the mix for Sectionals," said Stein.
Wutzer is another heavyweight that Stein said has a chance to do well come Sectional time.
"He was a first-year guy last year, and he got our most improved wrestler award because he did so well," said Stein. "With me wrestling with him (in practice), he's definitely improved even more. I think he can do well."
Joining Monin and Wutzer in the heavyweight divisions are Mike Chmielewski, who saw some time as a varsity starter last year, and sophomore Joe Shell " one of several newcomers Stein said will have to step up if Colonie wants to win the South Division.