The Haverford High School freshman captured the Central League wrestling championship at 106 pounds; finished second at the District 1-3A Section South tourney; placed fourth at the PIAA 3A South East Regional; and advanced to the PIAA East 3A Super Regionals. Of his 14 wins this winter, nine were by pin. Lasty year, he wrestled at the Pennsylvania Junior Wrestling state championships. Haverford High School wrestling head coach Joe Jones said, “Cole’s relentless work ethic and desire to be the best has put him in the position he’s in today – the best 106 pounder in the Central League.”
Q: What do you think was your best match of the season?
A: I think my best match this year was losing to Matt Ricci from Garnet Valley on Feb. 10. Ricci later made it to Super Regionals at 120 pounds. I had already beat Garnet Valley’s 106-pounder and 113-pounder and my coaches asked me if I would bump up to 120 for a tougher match, and I said, “Yeah, let’s go.” I lost 6-2 but he helped me see what I need to work on.
Q: Tell us about your start in wrestling – what sparked your initial interest?
A: I started wrestling when I was 5 and I hated it because I wasn’t any good. I did it for another couple years and stopped. Then my little brother Lucas started wrestling and was having a lot of success – way more than me. As his big brother, I couldn’t let my little brother have more success than me in anything we did. I felt like I wasn’t doing something I was supposed to be doing. So I told my Dad I wanted to start wrestling again. He said, “OK, but you’re coming to every practice that your brother goes to. No excuses.” And we went to practice every day.
Q: What do you consider your biggest strength on the mat and what you are working on most currently? What aspect of your wrestling do you feel you improved the most in the past off-season?
A: I think my biggest strength on the mat is my ability to scramble. I’m not very fast or quick but I can see and feel things in scrambles that I think allow me to be a couple steps ahead. Once the scramble starts I immediately start looking for my cradles. My attacks from neutral have improved a lot since last year. Most of my offense comes from my opponent’s attacks, but I need to be able to score if I’m down late – I can’t rely on them to keep attacking.
Q: Tell us a little about your off-season training and what challenges you faced in your training because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A: COVID shut everything down right after I wrestled at the Pennsylvania Junior Wrestling state championships last year. But it really didn’t affect my training too much. Most of my off-season training is in a basement or a garage or just flipping tires with my brother in my driveway. I was really fortunate to have partners and somewhere to train during this whole time. Once the season started our coaches did a great job making sure we got as much mat time as possible.
Q: Who have been your most important wrestling mentors, and what was the most important thing you learned from each of them?
A: I’ve had a lot of partners and coaches help me along the way – too many to name them all, but they know who they are. If I had to narrow it down I’d have to say the whole O’Neill family. Jay and Nik O’Neill have been instrumental in pushing me to constantly be better. But no one has helped me more than Matt O’Neill. No matter what question I have, he always has an answer for me. And my parents – they’re always trying to give me opportunities to improve.
Q: Tell us a little about your pre-match preparation the day of a match.
A: I like to get my recommended 10,000 steps per day in by pacing back and forth, because I know when I go out on the mat my nerves are gone. I also like to get a good workout in about a half-hour before the match.
Fun facts – Cole McFarland
Favorite book: Green Eggs and Ham.
Favorite author: Dr. Seuss.
Favorite TV show: Chappelle show.
Favorite movie: Dictator.
Favorite athlete: Tiger Woods.
Favorite pre-meet pump-up song: “Usually hip hop music.”
Favorite team: Philadelphia Eagles.
Favorite place to visit: Sea Isle City, N.J.
Favorite pre-meet meal: “After weigh-ins. I like a soft pretzel from Wawa with some candy and a drink.”
Person I most admire: Matthew O’Neill.
Family members: parents Thomas and Deb, sister Juile, brother Lucas.
(To be selected as Main Line Boys Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by his coach.)
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