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Wrestling: Cornell's Alex Coolidge Aims High

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Shoot for the penthouse or you might end up in the outhouse.

Cornell College's Alex Coolidge aspires to have a deluxe view when medals are awarded at the end of the year.

Coolidge owns title hopes after qualifying for the NCAA Division III Championships last season, but falling short of All-American status. The Rams' junior is ranked fourth at 197 pounds with a focus on something much better.

"My sights are set on a national title. You can't set your goals low," Coolidge said. "You'll never be the best if your goals aren't the best."

Coolidge received a big boost of confidence when the Rams competed in the Iowa City Duals at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday. Coolidge won both matches, including a 9-8 decision over University of Iowa freshman Nathan Burak, whose red-shirt was removed when he took the mat.

"It was a big win," Coolidge said. "I knew it was going to be tough, wrestling in Carver-Hawkeye, it's the best venue for college wrestling. THey have great fans."

Coolidge scored takedowns in each period, noting that was able to wrestle his style of match and control tie-ups. He added a decision in Cornell's 21-20 win over Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. Consider it an early-season test that was passed.

"I was happy for Alex," Cornell Coach Mike Duroe told the school's sports information department. "Anytime you go into Iowa City and win a couple matches is a good thing. We accomplished what we wanted to do with him. The wins in a hostile environment will help him down the road."

The same place has helped him get to this point. Coolidge has trained at the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex in CHA during the offseason. Duroe has a connection with the Hawkeye Wrestling Club and the Iowa program before his tenure at Cornell. Coolidge is quick to acknowledge he is lucky to have the opportunity to work with some of the best in college wrestling.

"When you train with those guys and come out here in competition, you're not going to wrestle anyone as strong or tough as them," Coolidge said. "Having confidence in your training is everything."

Coolidge improved to 10-2 with a pin Tuesday in Cornell's 40-6 win over Simpson. Unless they are wins at the national tournament, which will be held at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena on Mar. 15-16, the sting of missing the awards stand won't be soothed. The quest to reach the podium drives him and continues to push him each day.

"It's a big fire," Coolidge said of last season's finish. "Every time you think back and you don't want to work hard, I think of the feeling that I had in mid-March, and it gets you motivated to keep going and doing the extra. You want the success so you never have that feeling again."

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