Three down, two to go for Coe’s Erickson

By Matt Levins For The Predicament

2018 NCAA Division III
Cole Erickson of Coe

One move.

That's how close Coe College sophomore Cole Erickson came to wrestling for a national championship on Saturday night at the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships at the Cleveland (Ohio) Public Auditorium.

Locked in a 1-1 match with top-ranked Ryan Epps of Augsburg, Erickson was in on a deep shot late in the match to win it. Instead, he turned the wrong way, allowing Epps to catch his foot and score the takedown himself in the final 20 seconds for a 3-1 win in the 157-pound semifinals,

Erickson, a four-time state placewinner for Mediapolis High School, came back to win his next two matches to finish third, earning All-America honors for the second straight season.

Erickson, who finished 20-8, already was looking ahead to next year and taking that final step toward winning a coveted national championship.

"Today was a pretty good day. As a team we had a pretty good day. My buddies are pretty pumped," Erickson said. "It could have gone better. I went one way and should have gone the other on the finish. But I'm looking forward to next year and carrying this momentum into the offseason."

Erickson scored an escape against Epps in the second period and took a 1-0 lead into the third period. Epps scored an escape to knot the match at 1 and Erickson was in on a deep single-leg attempt with a chance to win the match and advance to the finals.

One wrong move prevented Erickson from reaching another of his goals.

"At the end of the third period I put myself in a situation to win it. I just finished the wrong way instead of the way I should have gone. Maybe if I went the other way it would have ended different than it did," Erickson said. "I got in deep on a single leg and I should have gone one way. Instead, I went the other way and we ended up in a scramble. He caught my foot and scored on me with like 10 or 15 seconds left. I couldn't come back from that being on bottom. That's a situation that could have gone my way, but I'll learn from it for next time."

Erickson came back in the consolation semifinals to pin Kevin Ewards of Messiah in 2 minutes, 5 seconds to put himself in the third-place match.

"I'm not sure what the move is called. I put my arm on his back and work the tilt, got my knee on top and pinned him," Erickson said. "It's a good thing I ended it when I did because he got a little bloody there. I knew I had to finish it fast."

Erickson finished his season in style, despite nearly missing his third-place match, a 4-0 win over Zach Wilhelm of Stevens.

"I was feeling pretty relaxed. I was down joking around with the coaches and I asked one of my coaches, 'Am I up soon?' He told me we we still had a while," Erickson said. "I pulled out my phone and looked at it and I was on deck. I went running upstairs and didn't even have a chance to warm up. It was kind of a funny situation. I ended up wrestling probably my best match of the tournament."

As Erickson reflected on the season as he prepared for the Parade of All-Americans on Saturday night, Erickson already was focusing on next year and taking that final step to win a national championship.

"I was happy with how I came back from the loss in the semifinals," Erickson said. "I'm ready to move forward from it, learn from it and get better from it for next year."