Kolten Pope probably never really had a choice. Probably from the time he entered the world crying as a baby, Pope was born to be a wrestler.
It’s what his father Kyler did. The wrestling bloodlines also extended to cousins Gee, Nat and Ty.
So seeing Kolten, who owns a 4.0 grade point average and ranks No. 1 in the junior class at SPASH, as a mainstay at 120 pounds in the Stevens Point Area Senior High lineup is hardly a surprise.
Nor is the success Kolten is experiencing in his junior season with the Panthers. He currently owns a sparkling 23-2 record entering Saturday’s Wisconsin Valley Conference Meet in Wisconsin Rapids.
Oh yeah. Kolten will head into the conference tournament as the top seed in his weight class.
He recently took a few minutes to talk about his extensive background in wrestling, the success he’s enjoyed this season and what his future may hold.
Why is wrestling such an important part of the Pope family?
A: My dad was a wrestler and qualified for state and my cousins wrestled. He got me involved in the Medford Youth Wrestling Club when we lived in Medford and then I found Dennis Hall and World Gold Wrestling. I think it’s a sport that prepares you for life. In my opinion, it’s the hardest sport. Once you step on the mat, youn don’t have any teammates to count on. If I win or lose, it’s all on me and there is no one else I can blame.
Q: You’ve been part of the varsity since you were a freshman, what has been the key to your success this season?
A: I think a lot of my success has to do with putting in a lot of extra work after practice and in the weight room for extra conditioning and lifting. I’ve always been a hard worker, but (SPASH) coach (Duane) Groshek has pushed me a lot and that is huge if you want to be successful at the high school level.
Who are your role models or heroes?
A: My parents. (Former U.S. Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler) Dennis Hall has been a big role model and (my martial arts instructor) Mr. Brent Catura. They are my role models mostly because they pushed me to be better at whatever I was doing. They wouldn’t let me settle for normal or average and be mentally tough and not accept anything less. It helped me be a good athlete and person.
In your opinion, what is the definition of a successful season for you?
A: That’s different for every person. It’s not always about the final outcome or getting to go to state. I think it’s about having no regrets and knowing you put in all the hard work you could .
Q: If you could play any sport professionally, what sport would you choose and why?
A: I would get into MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). I’ve done it before (been involved in a mixed martial arts match) and it was fun. I have all the experience with karate and wrestling. I’m a third-degree black belt and a seven-time national martial arts champion. I competed with Team USA against Canada, and I won, so that was fun. It can be pretty intense and brutal, but I’m good at it and I like doing it.
— By Scott A. Williams
Stevens Point Journal Media