CEDAR RAPIDS - Coe finished Friday and then started Saturday strong.
The Kohawks tallied nine wins in a 10-match stretch, allowing four wrestlers to earn All-America status at the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships at the U.S. Cellular Center. They helped Coe secure fourth place in the team race.
In addition to 157-pound finalist Dimitri Boyer, senior Ethan Ball (174) and 197-pound junior Donnie Horner (24-12) placed third and fifth, respectively. Both capped their seasons with wins and their first trip to the national awards stand.
Ball, a three-time NCAA qualifier, entered as the No. 3 seed, but was upset in the quarterfinals. He closed with our straight victories, ending his senior campaign at 30-7.
“It’s kind of bitter sweet,” Ball said. “I would have liked to have won it. In my opinion, I think I’m good enough to win it. Two good guys are in the finals, so it didn’t work out for me.”
Ball is sixth in all-time wins and in the top five for career major-decision wins at Coe. He still felt the sting of missing the finals, but admitted he had more fun wrestled better after his loss eased the pressure of going for a title.
“I’m proud of what I’ve done,” Ball said. “I’m at peace with the whole thing. Obviously, I’d like to go out on top winning it, but I guess it wasn’t in the cards. I did my best wrestling today.”
Sheldon, a junior from Cedar Rapids Kennedy, placed sixth in his first NCAA appearance. Sheldon (28-9) went 3-2 after losing to top-seeded finalist Riley Lefever of Wabash (Ind.). He earned a spot in the championship festivities in front of his hometown crowd.
“It feels good to be an All-American,” Sheldon said. “I’m glad I got to wrestle here the second day.”
Sheldon will enjoy it for a short time and then start training for a deeper run next year.“I know I have things to work on and that will be the focus,” Sheldon said. “We can be happy for 24 hours but then we have to start working again.”