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Decision by Pa. wrestling legend to change coaching jobs to have impact on local standouts

STEVE HEISER
717-505-5446/@ydsports
Cary Kolat
  • Cary Kolat is Navy's new head wrestling coach. He accepted the job on Friday.
  • Kolat was the head wrestling coach at Campbell University.
  • Kolat's move will have a direct impact on several local wrestlers.

A Pennsylvania wrestling legend is returning a little closer to home.

Cary Kolat, 46, has accepted the job as the head wrestling coach at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Kolat had previously been the head coach for Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina.

Kolat’s move will have a direct impact on several wrestlers from York and Adams counties.

New Oxford High School graduate Zurich Storm was on the Campbell University roster this past season after transferring from North Carolina State.

Additionally, two current York County seniors, Northeastern’s Cole Wilson and South Western’s Ethan Baney, had committed to wrestle for Campbell and Kolat next season. 

Zurich Storm

Additionally, former Northern York standout Jacob Koser was on Navy's 2019-2020 roster.

Kolat’s hiring at Navy was announced Friday by Chet Gladchuk, Navy's director of athletics. Kolat’s hiring came just one week after the school’s firing of Joel Sharratt. In his six-year tenure, Sharratt had a 43-24 career record, including an 8-6 mark this past season.

Pennsylvania wrestling legend: Kolat is a legendary figure in Pennsylvania wrestling circles.

He won four-straight state titles and compiled a perfect 137-0 record at Jefferson-Morgan High School in Greene County, Pennsylvania. He was named Outstanding Wrestler at the PIAA state meet each year, an honor no other wrestler had won even twice.

Kolat began his decorated collegiate career at Penn State, where he advanced to the NCAA finals as a freshman. After his sophomore year, he garnered All-America honors for the second-straight season and was named Big Ten Conference Wrestler of the Year.  In two seasons at Penn State, Kolat compiled a 61-6 record, including a 39-1 mark as a sophomore.

He transferred to Lock Haven, where he won his first NCAA Division I national title in 1996 with a 25-1 record. He finished 25-0 as senior when he won the 142-pound national crown. He completed his college wrestling career with a 111-7 overall record and 53 pins.

Kolat went on to compete in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. A three-time World Cup gold medalist, he also won world silver and bronze medals. He’s a member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Cole Wilson

Local wrestlers: Storm enrolled at Campbell in January of 2020 and went 3-2 for the Camels this past season at 125 pounds.

At N.C. State, Storm went 16-6 overall in 2018-19, starting for the Wolfpack in 11 duals. At New Oxford, he was a four-time sectional winner, finishing with a 127-20 career high school record. He was sixth in the Class 3-A state championships as a senior with a 35-4 record, including a District 3 championship.

Wilson finished his Northeastern career at 137-18 and is Northeastern’s all-time career win leader. He was a four-time state qualifier and three-time District 3 runner-up who finished fourth in the state 3-A tournament in 2018 at 113.

As a senior, he finished 35-5 at 126 pounds.

South Western's Ethan Baney, top, is seen here in a file photo. Baney has committed to wrestle at Campbell University. Campbell lost its head coach, Cary Kolat, on Friday. Kolat accepted the head coaching job at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Baney concluded his South Western career at 122-36, including a 31-7 mark as a senior, when he wrestled at 152 in the postseason. He was a three-time state qualifier, including an eighth-place finish in 3-A in 2018 at 160. Baney finished third in the District 3 3-A meet in each of his final three seasons.

Navy's Jacob Koser, top, wrestles Lock Haven's Blake Reynolds in a 197-pound match the during Rumble in the Jungle II at the Fitzkee Event Center at Red Lion Area High School in December. Koser will have a new head coach. Pennsylvania wrestling legend Cary Kolat accepted the Navy job on Friday. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Koser amassed a 127-36 career record at Northern York and was a three-time state qualifier. He placed fourth in the state meet as a junior and third as a senior. As a freshman 197-pounder for Navy this past season, he finished 21-9.

There was one other District 3 wrestler on Navy's roster last season. Wyatt Long, a junior 149-pounder from Cumberland Valley, finished 14-9 for Navy.

Coaching career: The Campbell Camels, under Kolat, had seen significant success over the last four seasons, winning three Southern Conference Tournament titles (2017, 2019, 2020) and two regular-season SoCon championships (2019, 2020).

Under Kolat’s leadership, Campbell has had 19 NCAA Division I championship qualifiers, 12 individual SoCon champions and 28 medalists at the SoCon Tournament.

The Camels wrapped up the 2019-20 season by posting an 11-2 record, including a season-ending nine-match winning streak. Campbell was 7-0 in SoCon action.

Campbell was ranked as high as No. 12 in the nation (InterMat) this past season. Kolat was one of eight finalists for National Wrestling Coaches Association Coach of the Year honor in 2020 and was named SoCon Coach of the Year.

Kolat arrived at Campbell prior to the 2014-15 season after serving as associate head coach at North Carolina from 2010-14. He’s also served on wrestling staffs at Lehigh, Wisconsin, West Virginia and his alma mater, Lock Haven.

Reach Steve Heiser at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com.