After competing against some of the top wrestlers in the world, redshirt sophomore ASU wrestler Cohlton Schultz is ready to become the best.
“At this point, I really got to get it through my head: I'm not just a young rising star,” Schultz said. “I’ve gotta start being the dude and start winning medals.”
Earlier this month, Schultz competed in the 130 kilograms Greco-Roman bracket at the 2022 UWW Senior World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia. The two-time Pac-12 Champion and 2022 Gorriaran Award winner competed at the event for the second time in his impressive collegiate career.
Ten days before the event, Schultz arrived in Zrenjanin, a smaller city north of Belgrade, to undergo an acclimation camp due to the time and weather difference. Schultz said he usually flies in a day or two before the competition, but circumstances were different due to the event's stature.
“Senior World Championships is always an incredible atmosphere," Schultz said. "Serbia was a great host. It was a good city we were in. Performance definitely wasn't what I hoped for, but overall, the experience was definitely one I'll be able to grow from.”
Schultz won his qualifying matchup against the 2021 U23 World Championships silver medalist David Ovasapyan but lost in the 1/8 final to U23 bronze medalist Oskar Marvik. Despite the early exit, Schultz credits the tournament for opening his eyes to his flaws.
“You get beat like that in the World Championships," Schultz said. "It lets you know where you're at, opens your eyes a little bit, and it definitely gets you back thinking about what you got to do to beat a guy like that. Losing sucks, but it's always a good teacher.”
Although Schultz also suffered a first-round exit in the 2021 World Championships, coach Zeke Jones believes he can become one of the best in the world.
“As Cohlton continues to build this mental toughness, as he becomes a better student of the sport and ultimately can create game plans to beat the best guys in the world, that will propel him to being the best in the world,” Jones said. “He's right there. I mean, college kids just don't make it. He's ahead of schedule, ahead of the curve."
Part of the reason why Schultz is ahead of the curve is his work ethic. Assistant coach Eric Thompson, who traveled with Schultz to the World Championships, believes he is a veteran on the biggest stages.
"He's been going on these trips since he was 14 years old," Thompson said. "So from a coaching standpoint, it doesn't take a lot to make sure he's getting his sleep in and adjusting his schedule and getting the food he needs. He's a veteran of some of that stuff."
With experience and work ethic, Schultz has the luxury of being coached by some of the most accomplished wrestlers in the world. Also on the trip was Mark Perry, a two-time National Champion and head of Sunkist Wrestling.
“Sunkist is the number one wrestling club in the world. It's produced more world and living medals than most countries, let alone clubs,” Jones said.
When competing internationally, Schultz wrestles for Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club. He was one of seven Sunkist wrestlers competing in Serbia: Benji Peak, Braxton Amos, Seth Gross, Jordan Burroughs, Dom Parrish, Helen Maroulis and Kayla Miracle. The United States took home 13 medals, including six gold, five silver, and two bronze.
"The United States wrestling team won the most medals we've ever won," Jones said. "I'm really proud of the American program and how far we came."
Schultz is surrounded by the sport's greats daily and he believes the time to perform and win is now.
Schultz will have another opportunity to win a medal in October when he competes in the U23 World Championships. He will compete alongside redshirt junior Tony Negron, who qualified for the Puerto Rico U23 team.
“Whenever you're part of Team USA, it's a blast," Schultz said. "You got all types of dudes from different backgrounds that might be competing against each other during the year that are all bought into performing well and making things happen at the World Championships."
Once back from Spain, Schultz will have two weeks to prepare for the maroon and gold intrasquad scrimmage on Nov. 5. As the season approaches, his goals remain the same: To be a national and world champion.
Edited by Walker Smith, Wyatt Myskow and Grace Copperthite.
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