At the start of last season, most sentences involving C.J. Cobb ended in a question mark. But after finishing one win shy of All-American status in 2015, Cobb provided the answers to those questions and planted the seeds for what is set to be a limitless swan song for the Red and Blue.
Cobb enters his final year of collegiate wrestling following a stellar junior campaign that saw him achieve a superb 23-7 record, scoring a staggering 39 points for the Quakers at the expense of only three points allowed.
Cobb’s 2014-15 season earned him a trip to the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, where he wrestled in the 149-pound weight class against other top wrestlers.
After winning a first-round matchup, Cobb recorded an impressive victory against Iowa’s Brandon Sorensen, who was ranked fourth in the weight class. Unfortunately, his dream of championship glory was cut off in the quarterfinals with a loss to Cornell’s Chris Villalonga, a grappler Cobb had beaten in a dual meet earlier in the season.
Despite the impressive display, the man from Williamstown, N.J., insists that he still is not completely content.
“I was happy with how well I did, but it wasn’t well enough to be satisfied,” Cobb said. “There’s still a lot more for me to accomplish. I have guys I lost to that I have to avenge.”
Last season’s results are especially impressive for Cobb because they directly followed his voluntary one-year hiatus from the sport — a year that Cobb spent focusing his energy on friends, family and academics, as well as rediscovering his love for the sport.
“Maybe I would be a better wrestler if I hadn’t taken a year off, but I also have a clearer vision now of why I wrestle,” Cobb explained. “It made me realize there are a lot more important things in life than wrestling.”
The veteran will take a special role on the team this year, acting not only as the team’s top wrestler but also as one of its biggest leaders.
“I like to lead by example,” Cobb said. “I think when I wrestle, people are watching, and I have to show them how to succeed.”
Coach Alex Tirapelle echoed the importance of Cobb’s leadership to the rest of the Penn team.
“C.J. is a guy who goes out there and doesn’t mind being under the lights,” Tirapelle said. “He probably performs better the more people that are in the venue. The guys feed off of that, it’s a great energy to have in the program.”
Cobb began this season with a spectacular showing at the Bearcat Open two weeks ago in Binghamton, N.Y. In the Red and Blue’s first event of the season, the senior clinched the championship in his 149-pound weight class after six convincing victories, including a tough grapple with fellow 2015 NCAA D-I Wrestling Championship participant Ken Theobold.
According to Cobb, this season is one that features different ambitions than in previous campaigns.
“In past years, it was all about an outcome,” Cobb said. “It was ‘I need to be an All-American’ or ‘I need to be a national champion.’ The goal this year is to overcome things I never overcame. The goal is to be able to wrestle through fatigue, wrestle when I’m not feeling that well and to beat people I don’t think I can beat. I want to overcome adversity.
“In the past, it’s been me against the person across from me. But this year, it’s about being the best I can be. It’s me versus myself.”
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