become the only four-year-old in his kindergarten and the Barberton
senior has maintained his academic
brilliance – he carries a 4.24 GPA. But lest one think
Cogar is just a brainiac, think again.
He’s also among the premier wrestlers in Ohio. Undefeated this season
Cogar is trying to become Barberton's first state champ since
1961. He was second last year.
The Barberton High School senior has maintained his academic brilliance, as his 4.24 grade point average attests. But lest one think Cogar is one-dimensional or merely a brainiac, one should think again. He’s also among the premier wrestlers in Ohio.
And that’s where the most tantalizing potential advancement comes in. He is seeking to take it one step further this season.
Cogar lost an excruciating 1-0 decision to since-graduated Justin Powell of Youngstown Boardman in the Division I 215-pound state final last year. On the eve of the state tournament, he leaves no doubt as to the depth of his desire to win a championship.
“There’s more to life than wrestling, but you always have to set goals,” says Cogar, who has landed a full ride to the University of Virginia. “I think back to winning my first match at age four and how happy my parents were. Now it’s for me. I’ve shed a lot of blood, sweat and tears. I’ve already achieved state runner-up and I don’t want to achieve it again.
“I’m going to have to do what I do best and wrestle smart. At this point it’s 99 percent mental. You can be big, strong and fast and you can work your butt off, but it’s all about wrestling mistake-free. That’s what I’m going to have to do to win.”
Cogar knows a little something about winning. Unbeaten in 44 matches this season, he finished sixth in the state as a sophomore despite wrestling well under his desired weight at 171 pounds before taking second a year ago.
He attributes such success to a love for the sport. And he attributes that to his parents and coaches, whom he stresses never pushed him to excel on the mat.
“I’ve always credited my parents and coaches, who have never pressured me, which has allowed wrestling to be fun for me,” he says. “It gives me something to relieve my energy. I started to really devote myself to it from eighth grade on. That year I went to the state wrestling tournament and saw the winners standing on the podium and how excited they all were. I decided that’s what I wanted to do.”
Only one other Barberton wrestler has stood on that most prestigious perch. That was Gary James, who won a state championship in 1961 – 30 years before Cogar was born. But the wrestlers who competed two generations apart recently enjoyed a brief conversation.
“I met (James) at the Hall of Fame banquet,” Cogar says. “We were joking around a lot at first, then I started to ask him about wrestling in his day, like about practice and training back then. He told me he wanted to come watch me wrestling in the state tournament and that we needed another state wrestling title at Barberton.”
Cogar is especially determined to join James as the school’s lone wrestling champion after falling excruciatingly close in 2007. He is particularly mindful during the tournaments of his philosophy that every opponent is a threat, which he even carries into regular-season matches against weaker competition.
He admits that others might take solace that Powell – the only wrestler who defeated him last season – is gone. But Cogar doesn’t see Powell’s graduation as a red carpet to a state title.
“It’s all about being smart and knowing what you have to do to win,” he says. “You have to know when to turn it up a notch and when to hang on to a two or three-point lead because when you get to the state finals most matches are decided by two or three points.
“It took a while to realize after losing in the finals last year that I had next year. When it happens you get more upset than you do now. Then it becomes time to learn from it.”
Life is a learning experience for Cogar, who contemplated such prestigious wrestling programs and academic institutions as Duke, Lehigh, Princeton, Stanford and Penn before selecting Virginia as his college home. Though he has yet to select a major, he is considering studying to become a pediatrician.
But first things first. Cogar desperately hopes he can pack his bags for Charlottesville as a reigning wrestling champion.