ST. LOUIS- Former East Fairmont High School wrestler Cole Laya made a name for himself in the college wrestling world last weekend when the junior won his first NCAA Wrestling National Championship for West Liberty.
That winning feeling is still present in Laya’s mind.
“I mean it’s still pretty unreal. You know everybody talks about cloud nine well I didn’t think there was a place past that but I’m still a little past that. It’s just like when you’ve worked so hard to make something you’ve dreamed of your whole life that’s now become reality, it takes so long to sink in and I’m just now realizing that,” Laya said.
Laya took control in the championship match and won by an 11-2 major decision.
The ironic part is…he’s seen his opponent, UNC Pembroke’s Nick Daggett, multiple times in his college wrestling career. Including just a month ago in the Mountain East Conference Championship.
“When I first wrestled him I beat him by like three points and then I lost the next year so I said I’ve obviously made a giant jump and then after that at that point I said I think this is my shot and this could be my year,” Laya said.
Laya, the three-time state champion for East Fairmont, is excited to represent the Bees on the big stage and gives a lot of credit to EFHS and his high school wrestling days.
“I’ve messaged a lot of my coaches, those were like the first guys I messaged. I’ve messaged my principals and everything just that I went to school with and some teachers that I was always close with and just to be able to represent my school, I just feel like that’s a big thing because I’m all about giving back to where I came from,” Laya said.
And Laya isn’t done yet. He finished the season with an 18-1 record and he still has two more years of eligibility left.
He said he hopes to get back to EFHS soon to catch up with the current wrestling team and even help out with advice or hosting clinics.