A climb to the top, the revival of a program

By: Jordan Cope, Assistant Sports Editor 

Junior Matt Cobleigh never got to wrestle in grade school, because his parents worried about him getting injured. But he always wanted be on a wrestling team.

“In high school I never wrestled, in middle school I never wrestled, so I had no wrestling experience,” Cobleigh said. “When I got to Towson, I found out the team got banned for a long time, so I found my good friend Scott Strappelli and we both said, ‘Hey let’s just go in, talk to the sports club people and get wrestling started.’”

Cobleigh is now president and founder of Towson’s club wrestling team after working tirelessly to revive and rebuild the program.

His ambitions have done more than fulfill his team’s desire to wrestle, it has given Head Coach Christopher Hoffman the drive to remain involved in the sport.

“I got back from college and the military and I just started to get that feeling. I started to miss wrestling,” Hoffman said. “So I posted on social media looking for a coaching spot, and I had somebody contact me about this spot. I thought that the position fit me well because I am able to compete with these guys better, coach at a higher level and relate to these guys not just about wrestling.”

Hoffman and freshman wrestler Jeff Hayden have formed bonded over their ties to the military. Hoffman, is in the National Guard as a Crew Chief Aviation, and Hayden is in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).

“Coach Chris is great, he’s young so he understands college life and what it’s like,” Hayden said. “He’s in the army and I am hopefully going to be in the army soon as well, so I feel like he really understands me.”

Hoffman also had similar praise for Hayden.

“Jeff is a great wrestler and a great kid in all aspects,” Hoffman said. “To see Jeff doing what he is doing here and then being in the ROTC … He does everything that I do and he went to college. You know that’s just another reason why we’re relating on every level.”

While the Tigers have seen success outside of the gym this year, the team has also been working hard on the mats.

At the Doug Cherry Invitational, an individual tournament at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, Hayden went 3-1 and placed second in the 141 weight class.

“That’s a big tournament with a lot of big schools,” Hoffman said. “That just goes to show that we have guys that are that caliber. We have the skill here, and we have a big campus. There is no reason why we can’t end up doing something big here in the next couple of years.”

As a team the Tigers are 1-4, but they are focused on finishing the season strong with the prospects of qualifying some teammates for wrestling at the conference and even national level.

“We have a couple guys that I definitely see going up there in conferences and even possibly nationals,” sophomore president Jake Arnold said. “So I definitely see some talent out there going to possibly represent our team.”

Three years ago, the Towson Club Wrestling Team was floating around campus, just struggling to hold on, but the squad has worked hard to build and continue to build something special.

“All the guys are throwing in all kinds of ideas,” Arnold said. “We’re just getting so much input from the team and we’re just expanding our horizons with social media and utilizing our resources in order to be able to make the team bigger and reach out to other teams. We’re just getting a lot of team effort this year.”

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