CEDAR RAPIDS - Cornell's Alex Coolidge has the resume to waltz his way to Saturday night of the national tournament.
The Rams' 197-pounder is ranked second in the country and has never lost to a Division III opponent this season. Coolidge could also make claim to being one of the top 197-pounders in the Big Ten of Division I, owning a win over Iowa's Nathan Burak, who placed fourth in the Big Ten Championships.
The only scoring were escapes with Coolidge scoring the only one in two 30-second tiebreaker periods. Unseeded Schmitz finished ahead of Coolidge at last year's national tournament, placing fifth and earning All-American honors.
He had to overcome an stiff test just to reach the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships on Friday at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. Coolidge edged Concordia-Moorhead's Nathan Schmitz, 2-1, in tiebreaker1, avoiding the upset and keeping his national title hopes alive.
“He had a tough first-round draw,” Cornell coach Mike Duroe said. “Alex has trouble with bigger, stronger guys. He seems to do better against those guys who move around more, because he’s so quick. He’s really quick for a big guy.”
Coolidge is one of just two wrestlers for Cornell, which is the host school for the tournament. He was also featured on the cover of a tournament program. Additionally, two No. 2 seeds had lost and the top-ranked wrestler at his weight had fallen before he took the mat. Nerves could have played a factor in the opening bout.
“I think there’s a lot of pressure on him,” Duroe said. “He’s a very emotional kid.
“Little things like that can put unnecessary pressures on an athlete if you let it.”
Coolidge, who was not made available to media, improved to 27-3 overall. More challenges remain, but he cleared a major hurdle with the overtime victory against a top foe.
“It builds his confidence,” Duroe said. “You know you can beat a guy that is an All-American and of that caliber.”
Duroe said Coolidge has put in a lot of work in the offseason. He spent time during the summer, training in Iowa City with the Hawkeye Wrestling Club. Duroe said that included a lot of hot, gruelling summer workouts with some of the nation's best.
"He's a tremendous leader for our team," Duroe said. "He's the complete package."
Here's rounds one, two and three of Coolidge's win Friday:
High Seeds Fall Early
The opening session wasn't kind to some of the top seeds of the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.
Heidelberg's Andrew Lovins produced the biggest upset of the round, beating top-seeded Jared Myhrberg of SUNY-Cortland, 3-2, at 197 pounds.Two second-seeded wrestlers failed to advance to the quarterfinals. Unseeded Christopher Donaldson of Ursinus beat Coast Guard's No. 2 seed Nathaniel Giorgio, 5-2, at 125. Chris Stevermer of St. Johns (Minn.) clipped second-seeded Michael Polizzi, 8-6, in sudden victory overtime at 149.