CEDAR RAPIDS - Many athletes crave to contribute to a championship team.
Even if you gave Wartburg's Cole Welter and extra hand he would still have more team title rings than fingers to wear them.
The Knights' second-seeded 165-pound senior reached the finals of the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships on Saturday at the U.S. Cellular Center. His performance helped Wartburg win their fourth straight title, making Welter a member of 16 state and national champion teams during his high school and college career.
The feat came into focus during a conversation with Wartburg teammate Landon Williams last season.
“It shows one of the reasons I chose Wartburg,” Welter said. “I knew I’d have a chance to win eight national titles.
“It has definitely hit home. I’ve thought about it a lot, honestly.”
For those scoring at home, Welter was a member of Don Bosco's championship teams that swept the Class 1A state duals and traditional state titles from 2007-10. He has been a part of the Knights' program, which has won the last four National Wrestling Coaches Association National Duals crowns and NCAA team title Saturday.
“That guy has the Midas tough apparently, because that is pretty impressive,” Wartburg Coach Eric Keller said. “We might have to keep on staff next year.”
Welter hasn't just been along for the ride. He was a three-time state champion for the Dons, winning the 103-pound title in 2007 and adding crowns at 125 and 135 in 2009 and 2010. He finished his prep career with a 162-14 record. With the Knights, he became a three-time two-time All-American, placing fifth at 157 last year. He has more than 110 career wins for the Knights.
Welter has impacted his teammates at each level. Keller has seen his determination this year, serving as a leader by example for the Knights.
“He has been on a mission,” Keller said. “He has had a fire in his eye every single day.
“He is a team guy."
Bring the best in Iowa is important, but being the best in the national is even better.
“Gilbertville and Don Bosco have a very special place in my heart. I love that community and they have given me everything,” Welter said. “To do it at the next level, to me, is a little more satisfying.”
Wartburg became the first Division III program to win four national titles in a row and earned its 11th overall, tying Augsburg (Minn.) for the most in division history. Individual efforts produces team success.
“A team title is nice," Welter said. "Individual dreams is what captures the national title as a team."
Welter said the Knights have built their dynasty on out-fighting opponents. He was part of a group that dreamed of a title sweep since they stepped on the Waverly campus. They have been united and shared a strong bond throughout their careers.“Also, we’re a close bunch of guys," Welter said. "We take one match at a time and we peak at the right time. All that stuff comes together that is the foundation of success.”