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Mike Cole named BC wrestling coach

When Jeff Karam stepped down as head coach of Bethlehem Catholic’s wrestling program this spring, the shoes to fill his role were always going to be big.

Mike Cole feels excited about that opportunity to step in and take over Karam’s role, as he was announced the new head coach of the Golden Hawk program last week.

Cole, who is an assistant coach and computer science teacher at Hunterdon Central in New Jersey, now takes over a program that has won nine PIAA team titles, including a sweep of last year’s individual and team tournament championships.

“It was always in my plans to be a high school teacher and a wrestling coach,” said Cole. “We’re from Pennsylvania and we always talked about going back to PA and when this opportunity came up, I thought it was a chance I couldn’t pass up.”

Cole was a 1984 PIAA state champion at 126-pounds for Montrose High School and a Freestyle Jr. National All-American placing 4th in the nation. He wrestled at Clarion University where he earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science, and a master’s degree in business administration. He was a two-time All-American for Clarion with two 3rd place finishes. He was also a Gold Medalist in the USA Olympic Festival, made the final Olympic Trials and represented the USA multiple times in international competitions. His professional career took him to Wall Street for 28 years where he ultimately retired as Managing Director of Technology at Morgan Stanley.

His coaching career has spanned at Division-I Clarion University, Rutgers University and Caldwell, North Hunterdon and Hunterdon Central high schools.

“I never really cared if I was a head coach or not throughout my career,” said Cole. “The opportunity to lead an influence the caliber of wrestlers and the community of Bethlehem Catholic is what got me excited. I got to meet the majority of the team and parents over the weekend and everyone was very welcoming.”

The Hawks return eight wrestlers from last year’s state championship team, including state champions Keanu Dillard, Nate Desmond and Kollin Rath.

“What excited me the most about this position is that Bethlehem Catholic is already great and I have to be very specific and smart about keeping them there,” he said. “My idea is I’m not going to change anything until I learn everything that’s going on. I plan on retaining the coaching staff and keeping it the same and figure things out. The biggest thing I’d like to work on right away is the partnership with our feeder programs.”