None of the Red grapplers looking to wrestle at this summer’s Olympic games in London managed to earn spots on the U.S. National Team this past weekend; however, junior Kyle Dake certainly made his presence felt. Dake along with Red teammate, senior Frank Perrelli, earned wildcard spots to compete at the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team Trials in the Freestyle division this weekend at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa. Also looking for a bid was Mack Lewnes ’11 who had qualified by virtue of his performance at the Men’s Freestyle Olympic Trials Qualifier last December.
While Perrelli and Lewnes each only won one match, Dake won four. But with only one spot in each weight class up for grabs, Dake’s four wins only earned him a third place finish in Saturday’s challenger’s bracket and fourth overall at 74 kg (163 pounds). After winning his first two matches of the day, Dake lost in the challenger’s semifinals to veteran World Team member Trent Paulson 0-2, 1-0, 6-0.
Paulson then lost to Andrew Howe — the eventual runner-up at 74 kg this weekend. Howe won the challenger’s bracket, but lost a best-of-three match-up to reigning world freestyle champion Jordan Burroughs, who will represent the U.S. in London at 74 kg and is considered the best chance the U.S. has to win a gold medal in wrestling.
“I was a little bit disappointed. I didn’t really accomplish what I wanted to, but it was a good experience, and I’ll definitely be ready in the future,” said Dake, who now has his sight set on the 2016 Olympics.
In the consolation bracket, Dake beat Nick Marable for the second time on Saturday to earn a third place finish in the challenger’s bracket. Marable was a gold medalist at 74 kg for the U.S. at the Pan American games last May.
Having had lost to the gold medalist last June in the quarterfinals of the U.S. World Team Trials, the wins may be indicative of Dake’s improvement in competitions outside of collegiate wrestling.More improvement might come with more experience with freestyle wrestling, which is somewhat different from collegiate folkstyle wrestling.
“It’s kind of like switching from baseball to cricket,” Dake said.
While Dake still needs to continue to improve in the ranks of freestyle wrestling if he hopes to make the 2016 Olympic team, some might now consider his dominance in the world of collegiate wrestling unrivaled after having beaten David Taylor of Penn State on Saturday. Both wresters went undefeated this season and were the NCAA champions in their respective weight classes, 157 and 165 pounds, respectively. Yet Taylor, who also won the Hodge Trophy — given to the most dominant college wrestler of the year — was dominated by Dake in a consolation round match-up at the Trials. Dake took the first period, 5-0, before pinning Taylor at 1:28 in the second to win the match. What made the match-up even more compelling was the fact that the two have been friends for a long time.
“We talked a little before, wished each other good luck and then after we talked a little bit and just said good job, congrats,” Dake said.
The two first met on the mat in the 2000 Ohio Tournament of Champions, and their most recent meeting was a freestyle championship match-up at Cadet Nationals in 2006 which Taylor won.