Kyle Dake ’13 has added another impressive achievement to the resume he first started building at Cornell — on April 3, the star wrestler qualified for the United States Olympic wrestling team, representing the U.S. in the 74 kilogram weight class.
Dake becomes the fifth former Cornell student to compete on the Olympic wrestling team, and the first to do so in 57 years. After defeating four-time world champion Jordan Burroughs, Dake will represent the United States in Tokyo at the rescheduled 2020 Olympic Games, which will kick off on July 23.
Dake is no stranger to dominance in the field of wrestling. He began his career as a freshman at Cornell, winning a collegiate national championship at the 141 pound weight class in 2010. He went on to win the national championship each of his next three years in the 149 pound, 157 pound and 165 pound weight classes.
Dake became the third athlete ever to be a four-time NCAA Division I national champion, and the first to do so in four different weight classes, as well as without a redshirt season. As a senior, he won the Dan Hodge Trophy, which the NCAA awards to the nation’s best wrestler.
Following his illustrious college career, Dake transitioned to professional wrestling. His first major breakthrough came in 2015, when he took home the gold at the U.S. National Championships, wrestling in the 86 kg class. He became a two-time U.S. champion in 2018, moving down to the 79 kg class. Dake has had just as much success on a global stage, winning the 2018 World Cup, as well as the wrestling World Championship in 2018 and 2019, all in the 79 kg class.
Heading into the Tokyo Olympics, Dake is currently on a 44 match win streak. At the U.S. qualifiers in Fort Worth, Texas, Dake competed in the 74 kg class. He faced off against three opponents on his path to represent the United States, defeating Evan Wick 10-0 in the Challenge Tournament Semifinals, Jason Nolf 11-0 in the Challenge Tournament Final and finally taking down Olympic gold medalist Jordan Burroughs in a best-of-three series, 3-0, 3-2.
At his post-match press conference, Dake discussed the influence that Burroughs, a four-time world champion, had on his own wrestling career.
“I told [Burroughs] that I really appreciate him, he’s pushed me for a long time,” Dake said. “His work ethic, the way he approaches the sport, the fact that he’s a five-time world champion is something I strive to be.”
He also expressed his excitement to represent the United States in Tokyo. “[I] put in a lot of hard work and it’s nice to see that it’s paid off thus far,” Dake said.
Asked about his goals for competing in Tokyo, Dake’s answer was immediate and direct: “Gold medal. Go out and perform, make it happen. I’m gonna have to go out and compete at a high level and every single time I step on the mat that’s what I’m gonna have to do so I’m excited for that opportunity.”