By Stan Cole
Campbell Sports Information
BUIES CREEK, N.C. – Former national champion and Olympic team member Cary Kolat has been named head wrestling coach at Campbell University. Kolat joins the Fighting Camel staff after serving since 2010 as associate head coach at the University of North Carolina.
“This is a milestone announcement for the Campbell wrestling program,” said Director of Athletics Bob Roller. “Nationally and internationally, Cary Kolat is synonymous with wrestling for the past three decades, and I am confident he will build a program for CU that will be known throughout NCAA Division I. We welcome Cary, Erin and their family to Campbell.”
During Kolat’s tenure at Chapel Hill, he was involved in all phases of the UNC program and helped improve the team’s national ranking from 57 to 22. In addition, he was head coach at the Olympic regional training center in Chapel Hill where he trained Olympic level athletes.
Kolat has also served on wrestling staffs at Lehigh, Wisconsin, West Virginia and his alma mater, Lock Haven.
“I’m extremely excited that Bob Roller and Campbell University have given me the opportunity to lead this program,” said Kolat, a native of southwestern Pennsylvania. “But the success of this program is not going to happen overnight. It will be determined by our guys doing the small things right over and over every day, consistently wanting to improve and taking the program to the next level.”
A two-time NCAA Division I wrestling champion, Kolat was a four-time All-American who went on to compete in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. A three-time World Cup gold medalist, he also won World silver and bronze medals.
His career also includes three U.S. Open championship medals and a pair of Pan-Am Games first-place finishes. Kolat was a member of the U.S. National Team from 1991-2002. In the summer of 2011, Kolat returned to competitive wrestling, was a finalist at the U.S. Open and competed in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.
“Success at the Division I level starts with the university administration,” said Kolat. “Throughout my visit here, Bob Roller and the administration convinced me that they are committed to having a successful wrestling program and that’s why I accepted this opportunity.”
He inherits a team that finished as runner-up in the Southern Conference in 2012 and finished third in 2013. Campbell wrestlers have advanced to the NCAA Championship in each of the last three seasons. Joe Boardwine resigned as head coach earlier this month in order to pursue other professional opportunities.
“I’m committed to making sure we get the right student-athletes at Campbell,” said Kolat. “We will bring in young men who can handle the academics and get their degree, and secondly, that can compete. If we get the right combination of athletes, hopefully, in a couple of years, wrestling alums at Campbell will be proud of their program and where it is headed.”
While at Jefferson-Morgan High in Green County, Pa., Kolat won four-straight state titles and compiled a perfect 137-0 record. He was named Outstanding Wrestler at the state meet each year, an honor no one else had won even twice.
Following his prep career, Kolat was featured in the April 6, 1992 edition of Sports Illustrated.
Kolat began his collegiate career at Penn State, where he advanced to the NCAA final as a freshman. After his sophomore year, he was named All-American for the second-straight season as well as 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 championship in 1996 with a 25-1 record. He finished 25-0 as senior when he won the 142-pound national title. He completed his college wrestling career with a 111-7 overall record and 53 pins.
Kolat earned his Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice from Lock Haven in 2003. He and his wife, Erin, are parents of two daughters – Zoe (12) and Gracie (9) and a son Ryder (6).