Cal Poly’s Colton Schilling makes stop in old stomping grounds

Sean C. Morgan

Cal Poly wrestler Colton Schilling returned to the familiar Norm Davis Wrestling Room with his team Friday to work out and prepare for a match Saturday against undefeated Oregon State University.

Schilling, a redshirt freshman wrestler at California Polytechnic State graduated from Sweet Home High School in 2013. His brother, senior Ty Schilling, signed to wrestle at Cal Poly during the fall.

“They’re grown men now,” said SHHS wrestling Coach Steve Thorpe, thinking of Schilling as well as Tyler Cowger, who is starring at Southern Oregon University. “To me, it’s an honor to have them come back to our room. To have Cal Poly come here and having Colton here, bringing his teammates, it’s just great, getting to show off our community, our wrestling room, the Norm Davis Wrestling Room.

“Colton, I think, has made a very good decision. I’m incredibly proud of what he’s accomplished there.”

Schilling is a team leader, with 14 falls to his credit as a redshirt freshman, Thorpe said. Last month, he was Cal Poly’s athlete of the month.

“Colton’s been a guy the team really rallied behind,” said Brendan Buckley, Cal Poly’s coach for four years. Buckley was head wrestling coach at Columbia University in New York for 11 years before moving to Cal Poly. “He’s really intense. He’s a tough competitor.”

He’s also one of the leading wrestlers in the conference, Buckley said.

“We signed his brother in the fall,” Buckley said, and he’s excited about having both brothers compete for Cal Poly. Both are good influences on the team, and their parents have been involved in the program.

Cal Poly worked out at SHHS after defeating Boise State 20-15 Thursday night, Thorpe said. The Mustangs spent the afternoon at SHHS on Friday.

“It worked out well,” Buckley said. “We needed a facility to train at. It’s great for us to be able to come into a high school and see the wrestlers.”

“A little bit of nostalgia, especially returning to this room,” Schilling said, adding that he hoped a lot of Sweet Home folks showed up to watch the match at OSU over the weekend.

“I’ll have a lot of orange and black cheering for me tomorrow,” Schilling said, although Thorpe said he would be wearing Cal Poly (green and gold) to watch Schilling and his team wrestle.

Schilling said college wrestling is a lot different from high school.

“Every match is your state finals match, that caliber,” Schilling said. Every match is a seven-minute mindset. Every match is another state champion from all over the country. “It’s fun.”

Schilling said he’s excited about his brother going to Cal Poly next year. He told Tyler not to choose the school just because he went there, but he was excited when his brother made his final decision.

“I think once he gets down here, he’ll make leaps and bounds,” Schilling said. “I got so much better. He’ll do it too, and it’ll be fun to see and help him grow.”

At first, that growth is in the mentality, Schilling said. “You have to train all year long, like you’re training for a state finals match.”

The high caliber of college wrestling requires it, he said. “You’re wrestling with the best of the best, state champions.”

And in that environment, a wrestler has nowhere to go but up, he said. Every match, wrestlers are watching video, analyzing and learning from their mistakes.

When a wrestler pins his opponent in round one or two, there isn’t as much to analyze, and it makes it harder to improve, Schilling said.

Schilling is studying industrial technology and is academically a sophomore. He hopes to continue his wrestling career after college, and there are many industrial technology opportunities in California. He eventually would like to return to Sweet Home and run his father’s business, Advanced Mechanical, Inc., which works in structural steel, building mills, tanks and more.

To young wrestlers, Schilling said, “Get out and get experience, every tournament; and wrestle in the off season.”

At this level, he said, have fun, build a love for the sport and find a way to improve – “push yourself and seek out competition.”