I was one of 16,000+ spectators lucky enough to witness history this weekend at the NCAA Div-1 Wrestling championships. I am already looking forward to next year!
|Cornell’s Kyle Dake captures 4th title, Penn State earns 3rd straight crown to cap NCAA Championships|
By Craig Sesker USA Wrestling
Cornell’s Kyle Dake tries to break free en route to winning his fourth NCAA title. Larry Slater photo.
DES MOINES, Iowa – One of the most memorable nights of wrestling in the 83-year history of the NCAA Championships saw Cornell’s Kyle Dake make history and Penn State win its third straight title.
Dake edged Penn State standout David Taylor 5-4 in an entertaining 165-pound finals bout to win his fourth national title on Saturday night before a raucous crowd of 16,131 fans at Wells Fargo Arena.
Top-ranked Penn State won its fourth overall national title with 123.5 points, four ahead of runner-up Oklahoma State. The Nittany Lions crowned two champions.
“We’re super happy,” said Penn State coach Cael Sanderson, who was named Coach of the Year. “Our guys did a great job. It was back-and-forth and our guys really came through. It was a very tough tournament. Oklahoma State had a great tournament.”
Third-ranked Oklahoma State actually led by one point over Penn State after junior Chris Perry won the first match of the finals, but Penn State regained the lead with wins by Ed Ruth and Quentin Wright.
“When you win nine out of 11 matches on Saturday, in the past you usually win the tournament,” Oklahoma State coach John Smith said. “We probably needed 11 today. There is no disappointment. We had the tournament we needed to have a chance. Looking back on it, it just wasn’t enough this time.”
Dake became just the third wrestler to win four NCAA titles and the first to do it in four different weight classes. He has previously won NCAAs at 141, 149 and 157.
Dake joins Oklahoma State’s Pat Smith and Iowa State’s Cael Sanderson as just the third wrestler to earn four NCAA championships.
“I’m kind of at a loss for words,” Dake said. “It’s definitely an amazing feeling. It’s just you get to finally see all your hard work pay off. I wrestled a tough match. I just wrestled tough. That’s all there is to say.
“It probably won’t sink in for a while. I’ve been dreaming about this day for a long time and to finally be here is pretty awesome.”
Dake was named Outstanding Wrestler. He won the final 77 straight matches for Cornell. He finished 20-0 in this tournament in his career.
Taylor, the 2012 NCAA champion at 165 and Hodge Trophy winner, struck first on a nifty leg attack for an early takedown before Dake regrouped with an escape and takedown.
Dake led 4-3 late in the match before Taylor gained a stalling point, but Dake prevailed after gaining a riding-time point after accumulating a 1 minute, 13 second advantage.
“He did something no one else did, so you have to give him credit,” Taylor said. “It hurts. I don’t lose. It’s something that’s going to eat at me for a while.”
Dake defeated Taylor, a junior, for the second time during the regular season. The NCAA changed its finals format this year, and the decision paid off with a superb battle in the final match of the tournament at 165.
Wright, a senior, clinched the national championship for Penn State when he scored two third-period takedowns to down top-ranked Dustin Kilgore of Kent State 8-6 in the 197-pound finals.
Wright, the No. 2 seed, won his second NCAA title after winning at 184 in 2011. Kilgore was seeking his second title after winning at 197 in 2011. The Kent State senior had won 62 straight matches.
“The team race is really important to me personally,” Wright said. “I knew one of us had to take it upon our shoulders to get it and I thought why not me? Let’s go out there and let’s win this. Let’s clinch the team race.”
Perry earned his third straight overtime win in edging Penn State sophomore Matt Brown 2-1 in the pivotal first match of the finals at 174.
Perry rode Brown out in the first 30-second tiebreaker before Brown cut Perry loose for an escape early in the second 30-second period. The second-seeded Brown was unable to gain a takedown and the top-seeded Perry prevailed.
Perry joins his brother, Mark, as an NCAA champion. Mark Perry won two NCAA titles for Iowa.
“It’s unexplainable,” Perry said. “I have so many people in my life, like my family and my coaches that I just want to win for. It’s indescribable. It’s almost a shell-shock moment when you’re up there. You don’t even know what to do. When you win, you just kind of fall apart, like everything is a big weight off your shoulder.”
Penn State came right back when top-seeded junior Ed Ruth won his second straight NCAA title by downing No. 3 Robert Hamlin of Lehigh by a 12-4 major decision in the 184 finals.
Ruth captured his second straight national title after winning at 174 last year. He will carry a 68-match winning streak into his senior season.
“I worked more on my intensity, making sure that I look fresh throughout the whole match,” Ruth said. “I didn’t want it to seem like the guy had a chance at any point in the match. I just wanted to be in his head all the way through.”
Top-seeded Oklahoma State senior Jordan Oliver scored a takedown with 10 seconds left to edge No. 2 Jason Chamberlain of Boise State 3-2 in the 149 finals. Oliver’s takedown broke a 1-1 tie.
Oliver won his second NCAA title after also winning at 133 in 2011. He was second in 2012 before bumping up two weight classes this year.
“I had to get that monkey off my back, but it’s definitely a great feeling,” Oliver said. “I definitely would say winning my second national title was way more difficult than winning my first one.”
Minnesota junior Tony Nelson won his second straight title, defeating No. 5 Mike McMullan of Northwestern 6-2 in the 285 finals. Nelson, seeded second, continues the strong tradition of Minnesota heavyweights.
“Last year, and even before, one of my goals was to be the first three-timer for Minnesota,” Nelson said. “Brock Lesnar won it once and Cole Konrad won it twice. I’m right up there with Cole now, and he’s a guy I always looked up to. To be up there with him is a big accomplishment.”
Ohio State sophomore Logan Stieber collected two early takedowns en route to downing Iowa junior Tony Ramos 7-4 in the 133 finals. The top-seeded Stieber won his second national title.
The second-seeded Ramos locked Stieber in a cradle late in the match, but Stieber was able to break free before giving up any near-fall points. The sequence was reviewed on video, but the call on the mat was upheld.
Stieber is now halfway to winning four national titles.
“You know, it creeps in your mind,” Stieber said of the possibility of winning four titles. “I think it creeps in everyone’s mind when they win it, that it’s a possibility. But something that I always tell my brother and always tell myself, I couldn’t win this national championship on Thursday. I couldn’t win on Friday. I had to win tonight. So I’ll worry about four after I get three.”
Second-seeded junior Derek St. John of Iowa escaped late in the match to defeat top-seeded senior Jason Welch of Northwestern 3-2 in the 157 finals. St. John was second in this event last year.
“It’s unbelievable, it’s awesome,” St, John said. “It’s what I’m working the last four years for, and I finally got it. It’s unbelievable. It’s just unbelievable.”
Second-seeded Jesse Delgado of Illinois won a battle of talented sophomores when he topped Nico Megaludis of Penn State 7-4 in the 125 finals.
The match was tied 1-1 when Delgado locked up a cradle during a scramble to score a takedown and three-point near fall midway through the third period. Megaludis finished second for the second straight year.
“I wasn’t necessarily looking for a cradle, but I knew it was my shot to win the match,” Delgado said. “I didn’t know if I was going to get another shot. I had to take it and I got in that position. He was doing the full split and his head was right by his knee, so I just took it.”
Second-seeded Kendric Maple of Oklahoma controlled No. 4 Mitchell Port of Edinboro in a 4-3 win in the 141 finals. Maple, a junior, piled up over two minutes of riding time to cap an unbeaten season.
“Absolutely total satisfaction,” Maple said of his title. “It’s a great honor to be here. I just love the sport.”
The 2014 NCAA Championships will be held in Oklahoma City.
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