FORT LAUDERDALE BY THE SEA, Fla. – Cornell advanced five wrestlers to the semifinals and was led by Alex Coolidge's runner-up finish at 197 pounds at the Citrus Invitational Dec. 29-30.
Coach Mike Duroe's 18th-ranked Rams took third in the 12-team tournament with 111.5 points, edging No. 30 Delaware Valley by one-half point. Upper Iowa, ranked No. 4 in NCAA Division II, capture the team crown with 166 points, followed by Division III's second-ranked Augsburg with 144.
The Rams had eight placewinners among the 20 individuals that entered the holiday event. It was the team's first competition since hosting a Dec. 12 dual meet with Augustana.
"Our guys came back from a layoff and were ready to go," Duroe said. "Overall, we battled harder on the second day and won a lot of close matches. A lot of our guys won their last matches. For a young team like this to score 111 points, it was a good performance."
Coolidge (18-3), ranked third at 197, posted a 4-1 tournament mark that included a pair of technical falls and two decisions. The Cornell junior was nipped 3-2 in the finals to Upper Iowa's third-ranked (Division II) Carl Broghammer. It was a rematch of a Nov. 5 meeting at the Loras Open, in which Broghammer also narrowly prevailed 4-2.
The third-seeded Coolidge dominated his first two foes by scores of 21-6 and 20-4. He won 8-5 in the quarterfinals and then claimed a 5-1 semifinal victory over second-seeded Aaron Thompson of Liberty.
Sophomore Brent Hamm at 174 and freshman Trevor Engle at 149 both finished third in their respective brackets. The fifth-seeded Hamm (14-9) went 5-1, highlighted by a 4-3 decision over Augsburg's seventh-ranked Josh Kohler in the third-place bout. Hamm avenged a 6-4 quarterfinal loss to Kohler.
Engle (17-4) also finished 5-1, his lone blemish a tight 5-4 semifinal decision to Upper Iowa's Jordan Rinken. Engle, seeded fifth, came out a 7-6 victor over Daniel Mirman of John Carroll in the third-place match. He added a pin and two major decisions in the tournament.
The Rams received fifth-place showings from freshmen Scott Smith (125) and Kevin Stahmer (184), sophomore Colin Bertucci (165) and junior Carl Gaul (285). Junior Ben Rosen took seventh at 125.
Smith (12-7) won his fifth-place match, 13-3, over Delaware Valley's Connor Kirkegard. Stahmer (12-12) dropped a 6-4 semifinal bout to eventual champion Daniel Manganaro of Ursinus and finished 3-2.
Bertucci (9-4) recorded a 5-2 mark that included a technical fall and major decision. Gaul (14-8) scored a 2-0 win in his fifth-place match over Division II's Marquin Hill of UNC-Pembroke. Gaul had one pin in the tournament, giving his a team-best nine for the season.
Freshman Zachary Henning won the 133-pound bracket in Sunday's ninth-place division, involving reseeded wrestlers who were eliminated from the first day of competition. Henning prevailed 10-8 in the finals over Mount Union's Jeremy Border.
"We're still not scoring in critical times and situations," Duroe said. "But as the guys mature, hopefully we'll learn that. Our guys are learning how to fight and battle. It was good to see progress."
The Rams are expected to return home from the Sunshine State mid-day on Jan. 2. Cornell's next competitions are Jan. 12 at the Central Invitational (Pella) and Flannagan Open (Dubuque).