MOUNT VERNON – The brackets are set for 180 wrestlers as they take aim at individual gold this weekend at the 2013 NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships, held for the first time in the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.
Cornell College hosts the two-day tournament, which gets underway at 11 a.m. Friday with the first of four sessions. Doors open to spectators at 9:30 a.m.
Session II begins with championship quarterfinal matches at 6 p.m. Friday. Session III starts at 10 a.m. Saturday with championship semifinals and concludes with third-, fifth-, and seventh-place matches. The championship finals are 7 p.m. Saturday.
The top eight finishers in each of the 10 weight classes earn All-America status.
Cornell fields a pair of All-America contenders in second-ranked junior Alex Coolidge (197 pounds) and freshman Trevor Engle (149). Coolidge makes his second NCAA appearance. He went 1-2 last year and finished one win short of a top-eight place. Engle is Cornell's first freshman qualifier since 2008 (heavyweight Josiah Payne).
Coolidge (29-3) is seeded No. 2 in his 18-man bracket. He opens against Concordia-Moorhead's Nathan Schmitz (12-3), a fifth-place finisher at 197 a year ago. The top half of Coolidge's quarterfinal bracket features No. 7 seed and 2012 qualifier Darren Faber (18-4) of Wheaton, Elizabethtown's Phillip Landis (20-3) and Wilkes' Matthew Transue (21-8).
The 197-pound class includes three returning All-Americans in Cortland State's top-seeded Jared Myhrberg (3rd in 2012), Schmitz and Luther's Trent Flegel (6th in 2012). Coolidge is among four others who competed last year.
Coolidge, undefeated against Division III foes, claimed the Central Region title with an 8-3 finals victory over Wartburg's Puna Soriano March 2 in Dubuque. He has won 11 consecutive matches, collecting bonus points in six during the streak.
Engle (29-8) wrestles No. 5 seed Robert Dierna (21-2), a freshman from Cortland State, in one of two pigtail matches at 149. The winner meets Waynesburg's Luke Lohr (8-2). The bottom half of Engle's quarterfinal bracket includes No. 4 seed Emanual Ajagbe (31-2) of Delaware Valley and Howard Tobochnik (34-4) of Wesleyan.
None of the 18 wrestlers at 149 competed in this weight class at nationals last year. Top-seeded Kodie Silvestri of Wartburg won the 141-pound title in 2012.
Engle qualified with a runner-up regional finish. He secured his first NCAA berth with a 14-10 semifinal decision over Dubuque's Eric Powell, also a 2013 qualifier. Engle fell 15-1 in the finals to Wartburg's Silvestri. Engle has won eight of his last 10 bouts.