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The National Wrestling Hall of Fame and the Mat Talk Podcast Network presented Legends, a series dedicated to telling the stories of wrestling's greats. Featuring Outstanding Americans, Distinguished Members, Order of Merit and Medal of Courage winners, Legends will chronicle the stories from the most legendary figures in Olympic, college and high school wrestling.

Apr 27, 2018

When the conversation among Pennsylvania wrestling fans turns to “the best ever,” Jefferson Morgan High School alumnus Cary Kolat’s name is always in the mix.

Kolat compiled a 137-0 high school record with four Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association championships, and he was named Outstanding Wrestler at the PIAA tournament each year he competed, an honor no other wrestler has achieved even twice.

As a freshman at Penn State, Kolat won a Big Ten title and placed second in the NCAA Championships at 134 pounds. As a sophomore, he was named Big Ten Wrestler of the Year and finished third in the NCAA Tournament. Kolat sat out a year to transfer to Lock Haven University, but he came back better than ever, winning back-to-back NCAA titles at 142 pounds in 1996 and 1997 with a two-year record of 50-1.

Kolat won two Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference titles and back-to-back Eastern Wrestling League championships. He was named Outstanding Wrestler both years and finished his college career with a 111-7 record and 53 pins.

On the international level, Kolat was a member of the U.S. Freestyle Team from 1997 to 2001, and he won a silver medal at the World Championships in 1997 and a bronze medal in 1998. He won three World Cup gold medals, one World Cup silver and two Pan American championships. He was the University National freestyle champion in 1995 and the U.S. Open champion in 1997, 1999 and 2000.

In his first Olympic freestyle match at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, Kolat faced the reigning world champion, Mohammad Talaei. He scored a thrilling 3-1 overtime victory only to have the result protested. Forced to re-wrestle the match, he lost a narrow 5-4 decision and eventually placed ninth.

For his record of success in the United States and around the world, Cary Kolat is honored as a Distinguished Member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

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