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Hudson grad competes at NCAAs

By FRANK ACETO Associate Sports Editor Published: April 2, 2017 12:00 AM
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It took two full years before Hudson graduate Michael Coleman learned how to master wrestling on the high-school level.

He still has one more year left, but it looks like that same trend is continuing on the collegiate level.

Coleman recently concluded a stellar year on the mats for the United States Naval Academy (Md.).

Coleman, a junior, finished 2-2 in the 184-pound competition at the NCAA Wrestling Championships March 17 in St. Louis.

It was Coleman's first trip to the NCAA Championships.

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Coleman had a similar situation while competing for the Explorers.

The 2014 Hudson graduate did not advance to the state competition during his freshman or sophomore years.

Things certainly turned around when he became an upperclassman.

Not only did Coleman reach the state competition, he made two trips to the podium. Coleman finished fourth at the state meet during his junior and senior years.

"Getting to the NCAAs has been a goal of mine since I started wrestling," Coleman said. "I was happy to make it there, but I always want more."

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At the NCAA Championships, Coleman was eliminated in the third consolation round. He lost to North Carolina State University's Michael Macchiavello 2-1.

Coleman reached the third round with a 6-2 win over Binghamton (N.Y.) University's Steven Schneider.

In his first consolation match, Coleman defeated Brown (R.I.) University's Christian LaFragola 7-4.

Coleman lost his opening-round match to Cornell (N.Y.) University's Gabe Dean, who scored a 21-12 major decision. Dean, who also defeated Coleman in the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association Championships' 184-pound final earlier in the month, is a two-time NCAA champion.

Coleman finished the season with a 22-9 record.

"It was a really good experience to see all of the best wrestlers," he said. "It was cool to be part of that. I didn't start my freshman year and I didn't start last year. This is the first mark I've made."

Coleman certainly wasn't a nonfactor for the Midshipmen during his first two years.

Wrestling at 165 pounds, Coleman finished 15-14 as a sophomore after posting a 15-11 record during his freshman year.

"Michael isn't blessed with the quickest feet in the world," Navy head coach Joel Sharratt said. "At 165, that caused some problems. At 184, he knows speed is his friend. He also gained a lot of strength. He still has a few vulnerabilities, but he wants to be even better next season."

During his first two years with the Navy, Coleman got to be around someone who pushed him to new heights during practice.

"We had a very special team captain by the name of Peyton Walsh," Sharratt said. "He was Michael's No. 1 training partner. They wrestled every day. Michael made huge gains training with someone like him."

Coleman punched his ticket to the NCAA Championships with a stellar showing at the EIWA competition.

He won three straight matches before running into Dean in the final. One of Coleman's wins was a pinfall in eight seconds. As a result of his performance, Coleman received the Billy Sheridan Memorial Award for most pins in the shortest amount of time.

Coleman lost to Dean by a 24-9 count in the EIWA final. When the two met again, Coleman proved to be far more difficult to beat on a much more prestigious stage.

"It was a bad draw for Michael," Sharratt said. "He got two takedowns on the No. 1 guy in the country."

It is extremely difficult to be among the elite on the NCAA Division I level. It's even harder to do so with such a demanding schedule.

The Naval Academy stresses a heavy workload that can play havoc with anyone's mind.

"The days are pretty busy," Coleman said. "It's always difficult, but you get used to it. It's hard balancing classes and wrestling during the season."

Coleman will eventually leave the mats forever once he graduates from the Naval Academy.

However, the rigorous workload doesn't expect to end.

Coleman hopes to be a Navy Seal one day. Therefore, he plans to join the Marines once he concludes his education and training with the Navy.

Until then, though, Coleman has much higher expectations for his senior season. There is another reason why he's motivated: The 2018 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships are scheduled to take place in Cleveland.

Therefore, it's imperative for Coleman to conclude his wrestling career on the podium.

"That's the goal," he said. "It would be really cool to do it in Cleveland."

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