Cole Urbas has been wrestling for as long as he can remember.
“When I was around five, we got a letter in the mail from the local wrestling club, and I thought it was going to be something like WWE, so I signed up,” Urbas said.
When asked how it compares to WWE now that he actually knows what it is like, Urbas laughed.
“It’s way better. It’s way more beautiful,” he said. “And it’s real.”
Despite considering wrestling just another sport among the many that he took part in when he entered high school, Urbas realized how much he truly loved wrestling as time went on.
“At first, I really didn’t know how it was going to turn out for me and it was something that I did. I was a wrestler, I went to wrestling practice. I worked hard, I was someone that did the extra," he said. "And then my sophomore year I really broke out and separated myself from the pack and people realized that I was going to be something special.”
All of this hard work paid off for Urbas, as his high school career was nothing short of spectacular. Following his self-described “breakout” sophomore year, he finished third in the state championships for his weight class as a junior, in addition to stepping into a major leadership role for his team.
But it was Urbas's senior year where he showed just how impressive he was. Leading the team as its captain, Urbas was the 2018 Pennsylvania state championships runner-up at the 195-pound weight class, pushing his career record to 98-11.
This incredible showing led to a No. 9 national ranking in his weight class, and 85th overall by FloWrestling.
Coming onto campus last year as a new recruit for the Quakers, Urbas realized that it was a great opportunity to prove himself in a similar manner to the way he had done in high school.
“People know what I did in high school, but you are just a freshman and you have to prove yourself. To me, that was exciting, an exciting time to re-prove myself, dedicate myself," he said. "I did this in high school, where I dedicated myself and got myself to where I want to be. I made a name for myself, let’s do it again.”
This outlook served Urbas well, as his freshman year was one to remember. He posted a 20-13 record, with wins over three ranked opponents, and went into the EIWA championship ranked No. 33 nationally with a chance to qualify for the NCAA Championships.
Despite all the pressure, Cole continued to envision success leading up to the tournament, and it paid off.
After just missing an automatic bid by finishing seventh in his weight class, Cole earned an at-large bid to qualify for the NCAA Championships, something he says was one of his personal goals for his freshman season.
Despite the fact that the pandemic led to the cancellation of the tournament and sent everything into lockdown, Urbas, along with the rest of the Penn wrestling team, managed to stay in shape over the summer.
They accomplished this through at-home workouts and practice, keeping track of each other’s progress through the TeamBuildr app.
Once school started, however, the team was able to be together again, as they all moved to campus in September. This has allowed them to continue training together, even if the pandemic has made it a little more challenging, something many other schools have been unable to do.
A natural leader, Urbas is already growing into this role and is helping build the team culture of success.
“We are on the rise, and it is really exciting to be a leader among that," he said. "We are constantly pushing ourselves, holding each other accountable and rising to the next level. That’s what this phase of Penn wrestling is all about. It is really about the people around you and the success we are going to build together.”
Even though the wrestling season, along with other winter sports, has been canceled, Urbas is still hungry to prove himself next season and he won’t be alone: his brother Lance, currently a high school senior, is committed to Penn's Class of 2025.
As Urbas continues to train and prove himself as a leader, he is sure to add onto his legacy and earn himself a place among the all-time Red and Blue wrestling greats.
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