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Navy Wrestling: What the hiring of Cary Kolat means for the Midshipmen

The former Campbell head coach is bringing a history of success with him to Annapolis.

2019 NCAA Division I Men’s Wrestling Championship Photo by Justin K. Aller/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Navy’s 2019-2020 wrestling season didn’t exactly end the way anyone hoped. The Midshipmen dropped the dual against Army at home and ultimately placed fourth in the EIWA championships, trailing the Black Knights once again. While Navy had five wrestlers qualify for the NCAA tournament that was scheduled to take place in Minneapolis, the cancellation due to the Coronavirus also spelled the end of Joel Sharratt’s time as head coach.

Replacing Sharratt is former head coach of the Campbell Fighting Camels, Cary Kolat. For wrestling fans, this is big news. Kolat has made excellent improvements during his tenures at both UNC and Campbell. He guided the Tar Heels from a 57 national ranking all the way up to 22. Get ready for a dive into what the Kolat hiring means for Navy as well as a bit more history about the coach.

Cary Kolat, Champion and Hall of Famer

Kolat began his collegiate wrestling career at Penn State before transferring to Lock Haven, where he won two NCAA individual championships. Following his time with the Bald Eagles, Kolat competed as a member of the US National Team from 1991-2002, winning three World Cup gold medals and competing at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Following his time on the mat, Cary Kolat began his coaching career with stops at Lehigh, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Lock Haven. His first head coaching gig came at UNC, where he coached from 2010 to 2014. He also served as the head coach of the Olympic regional training center in Chapel Hill, preparing athletes for the London games.

Kolat was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame as a member of the 41st annual class. He is also recognized as a Distinguished Member of the Modern Era, which is an honor bestowed on outstanding wrestlers both nationally and internationally, exceptional coaches, and contributors who have advanced the sport.

Cary Kolat, Campbell Fighting Camel

Coach Kolat’s greatest success so far came in his second head coaching job as the leader of the Campbell Fighting Camels. In addition to having a great mascot, Kolat cemented the program’s national status with two NCAA qualifiers in his first year. In 2017 Campbell sent five athletes to the NCAA tournament, with Nathan Krassier earning the program’s first ever All-American award.

The 2016-17 season also marked Campbell’s first SoCon title under Kolat. The Camels finished the regular season in second place but went a dominant 16-4 in the first two rounds of the tournament en route to claiming two crowns and six podium finishes.

The Camels finished third in the SoCon in 2018 and medaled five athletes before bouncing back to take the team crown in both 2019 and 2020. In 2019, all ten weight classes competed for conference medals with eight finding themselves on the podium. The success translated to the national level, with a school-record six qualifying for the NCAA tournament.

Campbell finished the 2020 season with a record tying six more qualifiers including three seeded within the top ten. They also posted an 11-2 record highlighted by nine straight dual wins and a 7-0 conference record. Kolat has had 19 NCAA Championship qualifiers, 12 individual SoCon Champions and 28 medalists at the SoCon Tournament, and he’s ready to hit the Yard running.

What it means for Navy

Hiring a top name like Kolat can only mean success for the Midshipmen. He has also announced that he is hiring two of his Campbell assistants: Mike Evans and Blaize Cabell. Evans was a three-time All American at Iowa and Cabell qualified at heavyweight three times during his career at Northern Iowa. This coaching group has already found success together, which should translate to a quick implementation at Navy.

I would look for the Midshipmen to make strides as a team, as they return three of the five NCAA qualifiers from the 2019-2020 season. The Midshipmen have a strong chance to break Army’s streak of wins in the Star series, as they only lost this past season on criteria.

Are you excited for the new hire? Let us know your thoughts!