During the 2019-20 school year, Corban University in Salem will rollout a brand new athletic program: wrestling. And who better to help carry the torch for the new program other than Taft High School’s own Cody Knott.

As a graduating senior at Taft 7-12 this year, Knott said he had primarily been looking at Oregon State University and Linn Benton Community College as his options for school. But he wasn’t necessarily looking to play sports. That all changed when he received a message from first year head coach Keegan Davis at Corban.

“I got a message him asking me if I wanted to come wrestle and when I set up a meeting with them and checked out school, I really enjoyed the campus and everything they had offer,” Knott said. “They offered me a scholarship to wrestle and I accepted it.”

Knott said he knew of coach Davis and his brother Stryder Davis, who will also be on the Corban coaching staff, as coaches at Silverton High School in Salem.

“They're good guys and really good coaches,” Knott said.

For Davis, he has been looking for high character guys who will be able to grow as the program grows. Knott fit that bill to a T.

“Throughout his career, you can see that he's continually improved, which is huge,” Davis said of Knott. “As I put together the team, one of the characteristics I was looking for was having a positive attitude and having a growth mindset as well.”

“One of the biggest sort of things that we're looking for is whether or not they want to be the best version of themselves and they're not content with just being okay and if they're pursuing excellence. Cody has all those things.”

Starting a program from scratch is never easy and can put pressure on athletes and coaches to produce results right away. But for Davis, he isn’t setting any unobtainable expectations on the team or on Knott.

“It is important for us to not only compete our best, but also to set the tone of the identity of the program,” Davis said. “As far as Cody goes, he definitely will be one of those leaders who has integrity and character and will be an example on and off the mat. The way that Corban views the wrestling program is as an opportunity to have young athletes go and set good examples. So that's the expectation of our program. And that's the hope that I have for all the guys.”

Aside from the wrestling program, Knott was also intrigued by the school’s religious affiliation as well as there top notch business program.

“Their top program there is business and that's what I wanted to go to school for anyways,” Knott said. “Also, I went to Seventh Day Adventist, first grade through eighth grade here and Corban is a private Christian School, so that also added into my decision.”

A Taft Great

In high school, Knott was a major force on the mat with a resume filled with district titles and three trips to the State Tournament. In his senior year, after winning the district title, Knott represented Taft with a bronze medal at State and a 26-3 record during the season. He became the first Tiger wrestler to place twice at state during his career since 1963.

“Cody has a lot of talent and getting the next-level coaching he will receive at Corban will cause him to shine,” Taft wrestling coach Robb Ellis said. “He has a great work ethic and attitude and he is respectful to his coaches and always eager to learn more.”

Ellis said it has been several decades since Taft has had a wrestler compete collegiately and he’s glad to see Knott be a willing participant in taking on that challenge.

“High school wrestling is a grind, but college wrestling is a step up above that,” Ellis said. “It is a huge commitment and I am glad Cody decided to take it on and I know he will be successful if he sticks with the process the Corban coaches put him through.”

Aside from the medals, records and accolades, Knott said his biggest accomplishment is helping the Tiger wrestling program grow into what it has become today. Prior to high school, Knott said Taft had less than five wrestlers on the team. During his freshmen year, that number grew to 15 and during his senior year, Taft had 25 wrestlers and ended up taking eight to the State Tournament, which tied the school record.

“I felt honored to help grow the wrestling team and hopefully I can keep doing that by getting recognized and inspiring others to come wrestle,” Knott said.

Finding a Passion

If you ask Knott, Ellis or any other wrestler, they’ll tell you the same thing… it’s not for everyone. It’s both physically and mentally grueling. So what makes Knott one of the best in Taft High School history? Hard work he says.

“Doing outside of season work, when you're wrestling all year long doing little things in the summer like camps, that helps a lot,” Knott said. “It takes a very tough mentality and drive. You’re defending yourself, you're out there, not relying on anybody else beside yourself and if you want to get better then you have to put the work in to get there.

“You can't rely on other people to do the work for you. It's all on yourself. You have to push yourself, grind and get yourself better.”

In his first year of college, Knott is looking forward to the challenges of balancing school, sports and social life. But he said the most important thing for him in terms of athletics will be keeping his body healthy and staying engaged on the mat.

Although there is a team aspect to wrestling, it’s largely individual. For that reason, Knott has been able to find a lot of success in his four years despite competing at a small school.

“Wrestling is one of those sports where you could be from the smallest school and wrestle the biggest schools kids and still win,” Knott said. “At the end of the day, you’re one-on-one against someone else. You can’t blame anyone else except yourself, which why I love it.”

Thank you Taft Community

In the fall, Knott will begin working toward a degree in business and helping jumpstart a young and up incoming wrestling program. Although he’s unsure of what he wants to do for a career in the future, he’ll luckily have at least four years to figure that out.

“I want to own my own business of some sort someday or a property management company,” Knott said. “I want to develop property and manage properties and stuff like that.”

The future is undoubtedly bright for Knott, but it hasn’t been without the help of those in the Taft community, including coach Ellis.

“I haven't had a consistent coach, but Coach Ellis was my high school coach the last two years,” Knott said. “He’s been great and he has consistently helped me out and I helped him out in return.”

But of course, the ultimate ‘thank you’ goes to the people who know him the best: his family.

“Since I was super young, they've supported me the whole way,” Knott said. “They've always come to all my events and I’ve been very grateful for that because not everyone gets that.”

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