Eric Thompson (left) and Cohlton Schultz at the 2022 NCAA Championships (photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
Arizona State's heavyweight Cohlton Schultz took the wrestling world by storm last season, finishing second at NCAAs. Although many factors led to Schultz's success, there is a hidden factor that has allowed him to find his place in Arizona.
In August 2021, ASU added Eric Thompson to the coaching staff as the heavyweight coach. However, before he was able to land the job at Arizona State, he had to leap over a few hurdles.
First, he dealt with assistant coach Lee Pritts while in Budapest. In addition, he talked to a long-time acquaintance, Frank Molinaro. After bonding with them, Thompson received a call from head coach Zeke Jones. After discussing with Jones, Thompson believed this coaching gig could be the right fit for him.
"It's a place that's trending upwards," Thompson said. "I got along with the other coaches and it's a place where I could see my career grow."
Although it was a perfect fit, he had to meet with one last person before receiving the job.
"When we first met, he was really professional and had to make that good first impression," Schultz said. "But once we get past that, and spent four hours a day or whatever we got to know each other really well, he is really tight."
After a handful of days, Thompson and Schultz began to bond closely. According to Thompson, the two bonded well because of their similar mindsets, their enjoyment of the sport, and both being heavyweights.
Heading into the season, Schultz was excited to have a coach who can wrestle against him and have his back.
"It is nice to have a big heavyweight who understands how wrestling changes when you get up to the upper weights," Schultz said, Plus, he's a guy who I know is looking out for me."
Eric Thompson (left) and Cohlton Schultz at Final X Stillwater (photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
Compared to normal coach and athlete relationships, Schultz also looks out for Thompson and his family. During the season, Thompson would invite his children to Arizona State's practices. Although they are still learning the ropes of the sport, Schultz has become a great role model for Thompson's kids.
"Cohlton will watch our kids sometimes," Thompson said. "He's great with our kids and that's important to me. That's why I do what I do. When I treat Cohlton the way I treat him and he treats my son that way, that's a healthy circle of life."
Besides helping out off the mat, Thompson has been a big influence on the mat for Schultz.
"It's definitely been a blessing," Schultz said. "My wrestling has gone through the roof this year because [Thompson] doesn't mind jumping in with me. He's got a great feel for wrestling too. He understands a lot of positions and just has a good feel."
On the other hand, Thompson has been amazed at Schultz's progression after their first year together.
"To be there with him and see him get more and more confidence to where he is now, it's cool," Thompson said. "it's really neat to see him do those things."
As for the future, the two of them have separate, yet, similar ideas on how their bond will last.
"I'm excited to be able to keep building on it," Schultz said. "His two little kids are here. They're funny little fellows that are just adorable, real funny. It'd be pretty fun to be able to see those kids grow and keep working with them. Overall, he's a great friend, a great mentor, and I can't imagine having anyone else."
"I'm excited to see how his life goes," Thompson said. "I'm excited to see his wife and his kids. That's why you do this, is to be a part of kids' lives and hopefully be a positive impact."