Northeastern wrestler, after initial 'shock' about coaching change, staying with Campbell

  • Cole Wilson remains committed to the Campbell wrestling program.
  • Cary Kolat left the Camels to take over the Naval Academy program.
  • Scotti Sentes is the new Campbell head wrestling coach.
Northeastern's Cole Wilson, seen here at right in a file photo, has decided to stick with his commitment to Campbell University, despite a coaching change at the university.

In 2020, it's become commonplace to find out news on social media.

Whether it’s a friend or family member posting an engagement, a pregnancy or a new job, Facebook can be a place to discover things that brighten up your day.

Cole Wilson had the opposite experience when he logged into his account a week ago. 

Much to his surprise, the Northeastern High School senior and Campbell University wrestling recruit found out from a post that the college he signed with had just lost its hall-of-fame head coach. 

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

The article, an announcement that Pennsylvania wrestling legend Cary Kolat had taken over the U.S. Naval Academy's program, stunned Wilson, who had chosen the university in part because of the opportunity to learn from Kolat.

“At first, for a couple days I was pretty upset about it. Honestly, I was kind of in shock,” Wilson said. “Everyone knows he was a great wrestler, he has a lot in his arsenal to teach others and I was looking forward to learning from him during my years in college with him.”

The next morning, however, Wilson got a call from then-associate head coach Scotti Sentes. He explained to Wilson that the post was supposed to be held until Kolat had a chance to reach out to the team and recruits to tell them about the move himself. At the time, Sentes said the rest of the Campbell staff would be leaving the university as well. 

Sticking around: In a change of heart, Sentes decided to take over the Camels’ program and not leave. For Wilson, that’s all it took to keep him on board and he chose to remain with the school in Buies Creek, North Carolina, despite the coaching change.

“I was really relieved to see that I had a good coach staying there,” Wilson said. “When I found out Sentes was the (new) coach, I had my mind set that I didn’t want to go visit anywhere and I wanted to stay at Campbell.” 

Wilson said he considered trying to get a release from Campbell after Kolat left, but he didn’t want to go through the process of finding a new school. He added that wrestlers from other schools contacted him to join their teams, but the inability to visit anywhere made the decision easy for him. 

The NCAA Division I Camels are coming off an 11-2 season in 2019-20, including a 7-0 mark in the Southern Conference. They finished No. 12 in the nation according to Intermat.

Another elite coach: Sentes, like Kolat, has a prestigious wrestling background. He was a two-time All-American and four-time NCAA D-I qualifier at Central Michigan. Sentes placed fourth and seventh at the D-I finals during his career. In high school, Sentes captured four state titles, won his last 140 matches and had a 213-3 career record.

“I really got along with him,” Wilson said of Sentes. “He was a great wrestler, too, and he has a lot in his arsenal to teach to others. Most of my communication was with him at first. He’s a good guy and I think we click really good.” 

Wilson comes off a 35-5 campaign as a senior. He leaves Northeastern as the school’s all-time win leader with a 137-18 record and was a four-time state qualifier and three-time District 3 runner-up.

The Bobcats’ senior planned to report to Campbell on June 1 for summer courses and training, but doesn’t believe that will happen. The campus is closed because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Wilson recently received a workout plan from Campbell and is running and exercising using at-home equipment.

‘Not just one coach’: While he was upset to discover online that the legendary coach he wanted to learn from had left, Wilson is committed to the Camels’ program. It wasn’t what he imagined, but for him, his college choice was about more than who ran the team.

“It’s not just one coach that made me want to choose Campbell,” Wilson said. “It was the atmosphere, the campus and the kids down there.” 

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