photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com
Just a week after the Naval Academy announced that incumbent head coach Joel Sharratt would not be back for the 2020-21 season, the Midshipmen have got their man. Navy’s next head man will be Cary Kolat, who was the head coach of Campbell University. Kolat has done a remarkable job at Campbell turning around a school that was near the bottom of all teams at the DI level and made them into a perennial SoCon favorite, as well as a top 20 team. The Camels finished the 2019-20 dual season with a 11-2 record and were ranked #17th in the nation. This year six Campbell wrestlers qualified for the NCAA Championships; five of whom were SoCon champs. Three of his wrestlers earned top ten seeds at nationals.
Before Kolat’s arrival in Buies Creek, Campbell only had six national qualifiers over a ten year span. In year three, the team sent five wrestlers to the NCAA Championships and crowned the first All-American (Nathan Kraisser) in school history.
It appears that current Campbell staff members may follow Kolat to Annapolis, as well. The Navy team will return three national qualifiers, two of which were EIWA champions in 2020 (Cody Trybus and Tanner Skidgel). In year one under Kolat, the Midshipmen will look to snap a four-year losing streak to rival Army West Point, who has also emerged into a national threat.
Kolat has some of the best name-brand recognition in the sport as he was a 2000 Olympian and two-time world medalist. He is also regarded as one of the best, if not the best, high school wrestlers ever and went on to All-American four times. Two of those honors came at Penn State and the second two included national titles for Lock Haven.
Cary’s name and track record will undoubtedly help with recruiting; namely in his home state of Pennsylvania, but also nationwide. His Campbell teams turned into recruiting stalwarts and the current Class of 2020, will push for top-20 status provide those recruits still enroll. Kolat is not new to Maryland, he lived in the state for several years and ran a private club, before getting back into coaching at the collegiate level at the University of North Carolina.
The EIWA should be even more fun to follow in 2020-21. Cornell has a trio of studs coming off of Olympic redshirts, while Lehigh is steady, Princeton will have a strong nucleus returning, and Army continues to improve. Now Navy gets a shot in the arm from hiring Kolat.
Kolat’s move to Navy now means that the Campbell job is open. With new facilities and an administration that seems “all-in” on establishing themselves as a wrestling school, it should be an attractive position. Wow, we’re not even through the weekend the NCAA tournament was supposed to take place on and the coaching carousel is spinning, with Campbell and Oregon State’s jobs open.