photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com
West Liberty head coach Danny Irwin has picked up a colossal commitment with the announcement of 125 returning All-American Cole Laya. The sophomore from Fairmont, West Virginia capped off his true freshman campaign with a third-place finish at the 2019 NCAA Division II Men’s Wrestling Tournament.
I asked the four-time West Virginia state finalist about the process making a decision to leave Wheeling Jesuit and follow Irwin to West Liberty University.
“Well, the decision was extremely tough. Leaving WJU was hard for the fact that I was leaving a family and a tradition I had learned to love.”
Cole Laya stays in the state where he won three titles and travels just 20 miles up the highway. A journey home will still take a little over an hour and that means he can wrestle in front of friends and family and be with the wrestling coach who kept him in state and helped him to become the only true freshman All-American last season.
It was not an easy decision and Cole had this to say about the process.
“This decision has been really hard and maybe one of the hardest decision I have ever made. The decision came down to what felt more like home to me.”
Cole Laya enters the season as the third-ranked wrestler in Division II and a potential meeting with top-ranked Carlos Jacquez (Lindenwood) looms at the Midwest Classic in December.
Good luck this season to Cole Laya as he joins the Hilltoppers!