Kolby Mashack hasn't shied away from challenging tough opponents during his wrestling career at Tamaqua Area High School.

The Blue Raiders' senior 135-pounder will have the opportunity to grapple even tougher opposition on the college level at Bucknell University in Lewisburg next year.

"Bucknell had great academics and a great campus, and it's Division I wrestling, so it's can't get any better than that," said Mashack, who plans to major in biology/pre-medicine.

Kolby is the son of Jon and Sheila Mashack. His father, who assists with the Raider wrestling team, was a former two-time State qualifier (1985-86) at Tamaqua, and Kolby has followed in his footsteps on the Stadium Hill mats.

Kolby selected Bucknell from a list of schools that included Edinboro, York College, Franklin and Marshall, Lehigh and Gettysburg.

"It's a good fit for him," said Jon Mashack. "The facilities are unbelievable there, and he really hit it off well with the coach (Dan Wirnsberger)."

The Bucknell roster includes a number of Pennsylvania scholastic wrestling standouts, such as Boyertown's Alex Pellicciotti, Lewisburg's Derek Reber, North Allegheny's Rob Waitko and Benton's Corey Lear. Northern Lehigh's Scott Sechler is a member of the Bison squad at 157 pounds.

At Tamaqua, Mashack enters his senior season with a career record of 93-31. Like his father, he is a two-time PIAA State qualifier. He is also a three-time Schuylkill League medalist (two silvers and a bronze), has placed fourth at the District 11 AA tournament three times and is a two-time Southeast AA Regional medalist (third and fifth place).

Last season Kolby posted a mark of 35-7 and was a member of the TIMES NEWS Wrestling All-Star Team. He was champion at tournaments at Bloomsburg and Mount Carmel, was Schuylkill League runner-up. After a fourth place finish at Districts, he took the Regional bronze to punch his ticket to States once again.

"Kolby is the hardest worker I've ever seen at any level of wrestling," said Tamaqua head coach Jim McCabe. "That's the sole reason he has improved every year. His improvement comes from his confidence in his ability to win.

"Kolby has always done what's best for the team. If we need him to wrestle up at 145, he'll do it. He always has been that way. He's not afraid to wrestle the tougher kids, too (such as Wyomissing state champ Nick Hodgkins, who he elected to face in a dual meet). At Regionals, he had to get through three really tough kids to get to States, and he blew right through them to get third."

Kolby has set a number of goals for himself as a senior. He is within range of becoming the fifth Raider wrestler to reach the 100-win mark (joining Andy Breiner, Matt Benza, Jeremy Benza and Matt Brode). He is also hoping to make a run at a State medal as well.

"First, I want to break 100 wins, and then break the school record for wins (122 by Andy Breiner)," he related. "I really want to place at States this year, too."

To prepare himself, Kolby kept busy in the offseason. He wrestled with the Bucknell Bison Club as well as with Steel in Reading and Blue Mountain's Attack Club, and he attended Ken Chertow's wrestling camp, as well as Lehigh's mat camp. He also participated in 6-7 tournaments.

"He took the month of August off, but that was about it," said Jon Mashack.

Kolby said he will probably wrestle at either 141 or 149 pounds at Bucknell.