On the heels of an incredible 2012 that saw Kyle Dake win his third NCAA title and beat another top wrestler at the All-Star Classic, the Cornell mat champ hopes to make 2013 even greater by becoming only the third Division I wrestler to win four national titles in the more than 80-year history of NCAA championships.
After completing a perfect junior season, Dake won the 157-pound crown at the 2012 NCAAs in March by defeating Iowa’s Derek St. John, 4-1, in the finals. It was the Big Red superstar’s third consecutive title, each in a different weight class.
This fall, prior to starting his senior year, Dake announced he would be again moving up a weight, this time to 165 pounds. That set the stage for Dake to be competing in the same weight class as Penn State’s David Taylor, defending NCAA champ at 165… a development that had wrestling journalists and fans anticipating the action between these two top collegiate matmen. After all, at the beginning of the 2012-13 season, Dake and Taylor (now a junior) together had a total of just five losses in their entire college careers.
The wrestling community didn’t have long to wait. Dake vs. Taylor was announced as the marquee match-up for the 2012 NWCA All-Star Classic, the annual November event that is the kickoff for the college wrestling season. That news electrified fans, who snapped up all the tickets for the All-Star Classic within days of the announcement, according to Teague Moore, head coach at American University which hosted the 2012 event.
The All-Star battle between the two 2012 NCAA champs was not the high-scoring, action-packed wrestling match that many were anticipating; to use other sports analogies, Dake-Taylor was more a pitchers’ duel, or a chess match. In fact, all the scoring was from escapes. The match went into overtime, but in the end, the top-ranked Dake defeated No. 2 Taylor, 2-1, in their Nov. 3 All-Star match.
It’s likely that Kyle Dake and David Taylor will meet again on the mat during the 2012-13 season… perhaps one last time in the 165-pound finals at the 2013 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Des Moines next March.
If Dake wins the title, he will join a very exclusive club of four-time NCAA Div. I champs… a club that right now includes just two members: 1990s Oklahoma State titlewinner Pat Smith, and Cael Sanderson, who won four titles at Iowa State from 1999-2002. However, unlike Smith and Sanderson, if Dake were to do it, he would be the only four-timer to do it at four different weight classes… and the only not to have taken a redshirt year.
Four-time finalists: In the history of NCAA wrestling championships, only thirteen wrestlers have competed in the finals four times. Check out the list at College Wrestling Examiner’s College Wrestling 101.
College Wrestling Examiner’s Year in Review: For the fourth straight year, College Wrestling Examiner will be taking a look at the Top Ten Stories of 2012. Now through the end of this year, we’ll be posting our choices for the ten most significant stories in the world of collegiate wrestling.
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