Small College Sports

Coe wrestler Cole Erickson happier being heavier

Kohawk senior jumps to heavier weight, looks for second All-American finish

Coe’s Cole Erickson pins Augustana’s Matt Sears in the 149 pound third place match during the finals of the 2017 NCAA Division III Wrestling Regional Championships at the Five Flags Center in Dubuque on Saturday, February 25, 2017. Erickson won by fall at 3:44. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Coe’s Cole Erickson pins Augustana’s Matt Sears in the 149 pound third place match during the finals of the 2017 NCAA Division III Wrestling Regional Championships at the Five Flags Center in Dubuque on Saturday, February 25, 2017. Erickson won by fall at 3:44. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
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Cole Erickson remains listed as a 149-pounder on Coe’s wrestling roster.

He finds himself a little heavier and happier than when those were first posted.

Erickson made a midseason jump to 157 and earned his second trip to the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships, beginning Friday at Cleveland (Ohio) Public Auditorium. Erickson will attempt back-to-back All-American finishes, facing SUNY-Cortland’s Greg Chery (30-10) in the first round.

Erickson said multiple reasons led to his bump to the higher class. The drop to 149 was affecting his demeanor and approach in practice.

“I think it was a good move,” Erickson said. “The move up to 157 just allowed me to focus on wrestling and getting better. I’m enjoying it a little bit more. I’m happy I made the move up.”

The move has been a benefit mentally and physically. His mind isn’t consumed with his weight and the lesser drop has helped his body feel better. He has adapted to lengthy and stronger opponents at 157.

“I think anytime you jump a weight class in the middle of the season it can be an adjustment,” Coe Coach Jay Oostendorp said. “The guys are longer and bigger. He’s one of the strongest guys on our team. He’s been able to make that adjustment.”

The transition hasn’t been drastic for Erickson. He hasn’t experienced a big difference in strength and quickness. The Kohawk sophomore figured out he has to be tighter, executing moves and finishing scores. Erickson has become more aware about his own abilities.

“This season has been a learning process,” Erickson said. “Since the move up, I’ve been able to focus a lot on my wrestling and getting better every day. That’s a huge difference from where I thought I was at the beginning to where I am now.”

Sixth-ranked Erickson enters the tournament as the No. 5 seed. He placed second at the regional meet, qualifying behind Wartburg’s second-ranked Logan Thomsen. Erickson was unseeded and finished sixth at 149 in last year’s national tournament.

The time has come for everything to click into place and he’s excited to compete.

“I just have to let it fly,” Erickson said. “Anybody can win this tournament. I think I’m in a pretty good spot to do it myself.”

Erickson is one of three Kohawks in the field. He is the only one with previous national tournament experience. Jake Voss (174) and 197-pounder Andrew Holladay are making their debuts.

Voss (28-6) is seeded sixth and opens with Oswego State’s Troy Seymour (24-8). Voss also qualified as a regional runner-up.

“I think he’s wrestling loose,” Oostendorp said. “He’s looking forward to the opportunity.”

Holladay is a senior and enters the national meet unseeded. He will wrestle eighth-seeded Michael DiNardo (40-3), of Johnson & Wales (R.I.) in the opening round.

“I’m extremely happy for Andrew,” Oostendorp said. “He had a great offseason. He’s been very focused this year and I think he’s someone he can wrestle with anybody in the bracket.”

Cornell also qualified three wrestlers under head coach Mike Duroe, a 2018 inductee to the National Wrestling Coaches Association Division III Hall of Fame.

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The Rams’ Josh Martin (141), Ben Hewson (12-3) at 165 and heavyweight Tyler Ortmann (23-6) will compete this weekend. Martin (28-3) is seeded second and wrestles Baldwin Wallace’s Charles Nash (27-12) in the first round.

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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