Legendary wrestling coach to be inducted into Athletics Hall of Honor

PLAINVIEW — Legendary wrestling coach Johnny Cobb is among five Wayland Baptist University alumni scheduled to be inducted Nov. 4 into the university’s Athletics Hall of Honor.

The induction ceremony takes place at 9 a.m. in Banquet Room 211 in McClung University Center. Also on the induction docket are women’s basketball veteran Rosemary Brown Bowser, men’s basketball standout Alexey Carvalho, baseball standout Brett Cook, and golf great Andrew Williamson. The Hall of Honor ceremony is free and open to the public.

Already a legend in high school wrestling coaching circles after a five-decade career, Cobb came out of retirement to help Wayland lay the groundwork for the first scholarship college wrestling program in Texas and guided it to a highly successful start. His work at the university included coaching his second Olympic gold medalist.

After coaching his high school alma mater, Amarillo Tascosa, to three state wrestling titles and earning a pair of Texas High School Coach of the Year honors, Cobb was a year into retirement when Dr. Greg Feris, then-Wayland athletics director, sought his help recruiting a coach. When no one suitable was found, it dawned on WBU officials that the ideal coaching candidate was right in front of them.

In Cobb’s five years as coach, Wayland wrestlers brought home 24 All-American honors, 21 on the women’s side including the first of two national championships for Tamyra Mensah in 2014. As a team, Wayland quickly became a force with which to be reckoned. The Pioneer women finished sixth with six All-Americans at the WCWA National Championships in 2012, then two years later the Wayland women placed fifth with seven All-Americans.

Cobb said the thing he takes the most pride in from his time at Wayland is not the many on-mat successes his student-athletes achieved but what those athletes have gone on to do after leaving Wayland.

“I’m most proud of the fact that so many are now coaching other kids” he said. “There are so many who paid it forward and who are trying to implement the same characteristics in their kids. Hopefully what I tried to do had a ripple effect, and hopefully that ripple effect helps many other people.”

Cobb retired from Wayland in 2014 but stayed close to wrestling. Through Titan Mercury Wrestling Club, he helped coach Mensah, who made history in 2021 by becoming the first Black woman to win Olympic gold for Team USA in freestyle wrestling. Mensah was Cobb’s second Olympic gold medalist. Brandon Slay, whom Cobb coached at Tascosa High School before Slay went on to win gold at the 2000 Olympics.

Cobb is a member of Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame, Texas Wrestling Ring of Honor and Texas Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. Cobb also has an endowed scholarship named in his honor at Wayland, and the university’s most prestigious wrestler award is named for him.