Last week, Barnsdall High School wrestler James Cole outlasted Bartlesville High School’s Laken Clowdus in a 160-pound match, in overtime.
That’s just the bare bones report.
Beneath the surface, Cole achieved something incredibly amazing — while competing in the cauldron of fiery anxiety. He powered through his entire junior high and varsity wrestling career with never losing a dual meet match.
“It was weighing pretty heavy,” Cole said about Tuesday’s showdown with Clowdus. “Not only was it my last high school dual, but it was at home. I felt more pressure in this one.”
That’s not the only good news the energetic warrior — who has excelled in athletics and in the classroom — received this week.
On Feb. 7, Cole was voted as the Oklahoma Coaches Association Region II Male Scholar Athlete of the Year.
“He beat out six or seven kids,” said Panther football coach Kylee Sweeney, who attended the selection meeting. “I can’t tell you the last time a (Barnsdall) boy got it.”
Just as he has done in athletic competition, Cole operates at full gear in his academic pursuits.
He owns a 4.24 grade point average, is the class president, valedictorian, a selection to Boy’s State, a member of the National Honor Society, and so on, according to Sweeney.
“My whole life I’ve worked my hardest to get straight A’s,” Cole said, adding he didn’t have the words at his disposal to describe his gratitude for being selected as the region’s male scholar athlete of the year.
During the football season, Cole accumulated more than 2,000 total yards of offense — for the second straight season — and quarterbacked Barnsdall back into the playoffs.
He has spent chilly winter evenings on the wrestling mat — a week remains until Cole will compete in the regionals, with the goal of returning to the state tournament.
He is a multi-year qualifier for state.
Then, it will be baseball season; he pitches and plays at first for Barnsdall.
After that, Cole knows exactly what he wants to do.
“I’m trying to play baseball at NSU (Northeastern State, Tahlequah),” he said. “NSU has one of the best education programs in the state. I want to become a teacher and a coach.”
Cole’s future horizon appears to be dawning with a sunrise of promise.