May 2, 2013

Male Athlete of the Year: Kyle Dake

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As graduation approaches, Cornell wrestling bids farewell to the eight seniors exiting the program. Amongst those talented athletes is senior Kyle Dake. Not only is he a captain of the Red’s squad, but he made history this March as the first wrestler to ever win four national titles in four different weight classes.

“He has had a huge impact [on the program]. He has made history,” said junior Mike Nevinger. “[Aside from] his accomplishments, he is [also] a great leader and will help out anyone on the team.”

Upon entering Cornell, Dake was ready to leave it all on the mat at 141 pounds. That year, he took home the NCAA title, as well as Ivy League Rookie of the Year and a handful of other awards. The freshman looked promising for Cornell as he dominated the competition.

“When I first met Kyle, he came off as aggressive and loud and sometimes obnoxious,” said senior co-captain Joe Stanzione. “As I grew and lived with him and trained with him, you come to realize that he is an intense person and really is always looking out to do the right thing. He is a great kid.”

After winning the national title at 141, Dake decided to move up a weight class to 149 pounds for his sophomore season. At this weight, he was named EIWA Wrestler of the Year, was a First Team All-Ivy Selection and won the NCAAs for the second time. Dake also earned the Peter J. Floros Memorial Award as the team’s Most Valuable Wrestler and was named to the NWCA All-Academic Team. But his success was not only apparent on the mat; his dedication and hard work were obvious to his teammates and his opponents as he continued showing them what he could do on the Hill.

“Kyle, [in a way] defines Cornell wrestling and what we are all about. He lives and breathes it every day,” Stanzione said. “That’s what our program tries to teach and he is the perfect example of a Cornell wrestler.”

After winning two National Championships and moving into his junior season, Dake was ready for a new challenge — 157 pounds. He was the first wrestler to ever win three different weights in three years that season, but that was not enough for the junior. That year, he finished with a perfect 35-0 record and snatched his 100th win in a match in the NCAA finals. After the strength and dedication he proved during that season, he was named co-captain, along with seniors Steve Bosak, Joe Stanzione and junior Mike Nevinger.

“Kyle and I both started as freshman. [We] have different styles, but he is always pushing the limits. Being co-captains with him has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” Stanzione said.

In his final season at Cornell, and in yet another weight class — 165 pounds — Dake defied all odds and battled to win his fourth national title. Not only was he the first wrestler to win four in four weights in Division I collegiate wrestling history, he was only the third to win four ever. His triumphant season granted him the honor of winning the Hodge Trophy, as well as being named the Outstanding Wrestler at the NCAA tournament.

“Our hopes for Kyle are to see him with a gold Olympic medal draped across his chest,” said head coach Rob Koll.

Original Author: Haley Velasco