It’s official: after much speculation on online college wrestling forums and a report last week at a major amateur wrestling website, two-time NCAA mat champ and 2000 Olympian Cary Kolat has been named head wrestling coach at Campbell University, the North Carolina school announced Monday.
Kolat replaces Joe Boardwine, who resigned as head coach earlier this month in order to pursue other professional opportunities, according to the Campbell press statement.
Kolat had been on the staff at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill since 2010, and was promoted to associate head coach in 2012. In addition, he served as the director and head coach of the North Carolina Olympic Training Center, according to his UNC bio.
Prior to joining the Tar Heels staff, Kolat had coached at Lehigh, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Lock Haven.
A native of Pennsylvania, Kolat’s on-the-mat career in high school and college has earned him accolades as one of the all-time mat greats of the Keystone State. While at Jefferson-Morgan High in Green County, Pa., Kolat won four consecutive state titles, compiling a perfect 137-0 record. Just as impressive: Kolat was named Outstanding Wrestler at the state championships each of his four years, the only wrestler to have earned that honor more than once.
Kolat’s success continued into college, where he was a four-time NCAA All-American, three-time finalist, and two-time national champ. Kolat first attended Penn State, where he advanced to the 134-pound title match at the 1993 NCAAs as a freshman, losing to T.J. Jaworsky of North Carolina, 6-4. As a sophomore, he earned All-American honors by placing third at 134. In two seasons as a Nittany Lion, Kolat compiled a 61-6 record.
Kolat then transferred to Lock Haven, where he won his first national title at the 1996 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships with a 5-2 victory over Arizona State’s Steve St. John in the 134-pound finals. The following year, Kolat won his second NCAA title, this time at 142 pounds, with a 6-2 win over Roger Chandler of Indiana University. Kolat completed his college wrestling career with a 111-7 overall record and 53 pins.
Kolat’s mat success went beyond college. As a freestyle wrestler, he competed in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, was a three-time World Cup gold medalist, a two-time Pan Am Games gold medalist, and earned bronze and silver medals at World Championships.
"Nationally and internationally, Cary Kolat is synonymous with wrestling for the past three decades,” said Director of Athletics Bob Roller. “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."
"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."
"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."
Located in Buies Creek, N.C. near Raleigh, Campbell University is a private, four-year school. Founded in 1887, Campbell has a student enrollment of approximately 6,300. The CU Camels wrestle in the Southern Conference and NCAA Division I.