Troy Carlson’s first trip to nationals ended all too soon.At this weekend’s NCAA tournament in Cedar Rapids, seventh-seeded Carlson, a third-year, was eliminated after losing his first two matches to unseeded opponents. In his first match Friday, Carlson lost to UW–La Crosse’s Michael Schmitz by an 8–3 decision. The match was closer, Carlson said, until “a last second, last-ditch effort” on Carlson’s part gave Schmitz a window and allowed him to extend his narrow lead. Schmitz went on to finish fourth in the weight class.Later that day, Carlson was up against Ryan Dormann of the Stevens Institute of Technology in the wrestleback bracket. Once again, a competitive match just didn’t go Carlson’s way, and Dormann squeaked out a 5–4 decision, giving Carlson his second loss and knocking him out of contention.“Having lost two close matches...I think it just comes down to who is the most ready,” Carlson said. “Everyone at nationals was good, it was just a matter of who brought their best wrestling to the mat. I didn’t this weekend.”One of Carlson’s goals heading into the NCAAs was to be designated an all-American, and had he wrestled to seed, he would have been. But as his head coach Leo Kocher explained, the wrestler’s seeds often don’t mean much in so talented a field.“Troy’s weight class is a good illustration that anything and everything happens at [nationals],” Kocher said. “The first seed came in with an undefeated record at 29-0. He lost in the preliminary round and then in his first consolation match and was done three hours into the tournament.”And as Kocher pointed out, “four of the eight seeds at 174 did not place”—seventh-seeded Carlson, plus the first, third, and fourth seeds.Although Carlson missed out on his goal of being an all-American, the trip to Iowa wasn’t for naught.“I suspect the lesson he takes away from his NCAA experience,” Kocher said, “is that the athletes are so talented at the NCAAs that no matter what occurs during the regular season, those who are wrestling at the top of their game will be standing on the podium at the end of the day. “And the setback certainly hasn’t dampened Carlson’s expectations for next season, his final one wrestling for Chicago.“My goal for next year is to be back and All-American and win the entire tournament,” Carlson said. With that in mind, Carlson said he would be hitting the weight room and enjoying low-pressure practice bouts during the off season.“I just need to have nationals in my sights all year and wrestle each match during the year thinking about that,” Carlson said.