Wrestling: Three wrestlers ready for battle

Two Colonie wrestlers and a Shaker grappler are heading to the Times Union Center for this weekend’s state tournament.

Lightweight Golan Cohen and heavyweight Jason Johnson are representing Colonie at states, while lightweight Blake Retell makes his third appearance at the tournament for Shaker.

“It feels good to go again,” said Retell, who also participated in the 2010 and 2011 state tournaments before a hand injury sidelined him last year. “I had to work hard to get back on top, but it paid off.”

Retell survived a battle with Shenendehowa’s Kevin Parker in the Section II Division I (large school) finals Feb. 10 in Queensbury. Retell needed overtime to edge Parker 8-6 for the 120-pound championship.

“It was a hard-fought match,” said Retell.

Cohen and Johnson posted convincing wins in their Sectional title bouts. Cohen shut out Guilderland’s Mike Lainhart 6-0 to claim the 106-pound title in Division I, while Johnson defeated Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake’s Nico Fragale 9-2 for the 220-pound division championship.

“It was awesome,” said Cohen, who owns a 49-3 record this season. “I worked really hard to get there, and it felt good to win it.”

“Pretty much all of the hard work I put in paid off,” added Johnson.

Cohen and Johnson are both making their first state tournament appearances, and they said they’re hoping to have a place on the podium when the event ends Saturday night. The top six wrestlers in each weight class earn awards.

“I’m going to try my hardest,” said Cohen. “I know all of my hard work paid off at Sectionals, and I know it will pay off at states.”

“My ultimate goal is to win the state title,” said Johnson. “If I can’t get the state title, I want to place as high as I can since this is my senior season.”

Retell said he feels like he’s ready for the rigors of the state tournament.

“I feel great right now,” he said. “I think I have a good shot of placing.”

Retell, Cohen and Johnson all begin their state tournament journeys with Friday morning’s opening round. Cohen meets West Babylon’s Steven Lee in his first match, while Retell contends with Monroe Woodbury’s PJ Smoot and Johnson battles Calhoun’s Jenard Rosemound.

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