The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local Sports

March 21, 2013

Dake, Penn State top contenders for wrestling title

DES MOINES, Iowa — Cornell’s Kyle Dake will seek to take his place among the greatest college wrestlers of all time.

Penn State will attempt to solidify its status as the nation’s pre-eminent program – in the backyard of its biggest rival, Iowa – when the NCAA championships start today in Des Moines. The team race figures to be a competition between the Big Ten’s best, led by the Nittany Lions, Hawkeyes and Ohio State and Minnesota, along with Oklahoma State.

But Dake will be the main draw.

The three-time NCAA champion is just three days away from possibly becoming the first wrestler to win four national titles in four different weight classes.

“I think the most important thing for me to recognize is that I’ve got to get there before I can make history,” Dake said.

Dake has bumped up a weight class every season, progressing from 141 pounds to 149 to 157 and, as a senior, 165 pounds.

The constant movement hasn’t stopped him yet.

The Ithaca, N.Y., native became the first collegiate wrestler to win national titles in three different weight classes when he beat Iowa’s Derek St. John to cap a 35-0 season in 2012.

Dake’s decision to finish his career at 165 pounds put him in line to face defending NCAA champion David Taylor of Penn State, last year’s Hodge Trophy winner as the top overall wrestler in the country. 

Dake has beaten Taylor in an exhibition and in an NCAA-sanctioned match already this season. A third meeting would be perhaps the most highly anticipated collegiate match in recent memory – and a victory by Dake would make him the third wrestler with four NCAA titles, joining Pat Smith and current Penn State coach Cael Sanderson.

“I’ve been working really hard this season, putting in the time both physically and mentally and really pushing myself to the limits and hopefully pushing myself over the edge to get that fourth national title,” Dake said.

The team title chase could end up looking very similar to the recent Big Ten championships, which were won by Penn State.

The Nittany Lions have won the last two national titles and appear to be in strong position to do it again. Penn State outlasted Minnesota and Iowa to win the Big Ten, and four Nittany Lions claimed league crowns ahead of the national meet.

Top-seeded Ed Ruth will be the favorite at 184 pounds, and 197-pounder Quentin Wright is seeded second. Sophomore Matt Brown beat favored Mike Evans of Iowa to win his first Big Ten title, and Taylor is likely to rack up points even if he can’t beat Dake.

Perhaps the only team outside of the Big Ten with a true shot at the national title is Oklahoma State.

The Cowboys, ranked second behind Penn State, will have a qualifier in all 10 weight classes. Eight of Oklahoma State’s starters are Big 12 champions, and Jordan Oliver at 149 pounds is among four All-Americans for the Cowboys. Oliver, a 2011 national champion who worked as a training partner with the U.S. wrestling team for the London Games last summer, is 32-0 this season.

“For us to be successful, we’re going to have to earn some tough, tough wins,” Oklahoma State coach John Smith said.

The Gophers won the National Duals over Oklahoma State and also have 10 wrestlers in the field. Logan Storley (174) and heavyweight Tony Nelson will be among the favorites in their weight classes.

Iowa should have the crowd behind it, and that helped when the Hawkeyes beat the Nittany Lions 22-16 in Iowa City back on Feb. 1.

Iowa has a shot to do it again, with four wrestlers seeded second or third in their classes. Two-time NCAA champion Matt McDonough (125) will wrap up his career at the same venue where he shined in high school, and 157-pounder St. John is also among the favorites in his weight class.

“I don’t know how much of an advantage that is unless you wrestle hard,” Iowa coach Tom Brands said of competing in Des Moines.  “We know that we have to do some damage along the way, and it has to be damage in our favor.”

This year’s meet will be held against the backdrop of the IOC’s recent decision to remove wrestling from the Olympics starting in 2020. But the popularity of the sport isn’t up for debate in Des Moines, which has sold every ticket for all three days of the NCAAs. Such positive buzz can only help the international wrestling community in its fight to keep the sport on the Olympic program.

“The NCAA tournament has the greatest fan support, just from sheer numbers and TV exposure, than any other wrestling event in the world,” Sanderson said. “Anyone that comes to national tournament, they’re coming back. That’s just the way it works.”

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local Sports
  • Pirates 0720 Pirates rally to keep sweep

    Taking the extra base was the key for the Pittsburgh Pirates in completing a three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies.
    Andrew McCutchen hit a tiebreaking single in the seventh inning, Neil Walker followed with a home run and the Pirates overcame a three-run deficit to beat the Rockies 5-3 Sunday.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • LAG 0720 AAABA League playoffs: Laurel Auto Group moves closer to advancing

    Second-seeded Laurel Auto Group fell behind early against No. 3 Berkley Hills Renegades on Sunday afternoon at Roxbury Park. But Laurel’s players didn’t lose their composure.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Urtz, Pope lead AAABA League award votes

    Logan Urtz hadn’t fielded a ground ball as an infielder or swung a bat in a game for a couple seasons.
    But you can’t take the former infielder out of a starting pitcher.

    July 20, 2014

  • Gorden, Joe Tribune-Democrat sports staffer departs after 44 years in newsroom

    Joe Gorden’s temporary assignment to The Tribune-Democrat sports department concluded on Thursday night after more than four decades.
    Gorden retired after 44 years at the newspaper, all but three of them in the sports department.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Steelers 0731 Steelers’ Brown eyeing encore to breakout season

    Antonio Brown rolled up to the dorms at Saint Vincent College last week in a Mercedes conversion van.
    It’s fitting in a way. Five years into a blossoming career, the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver is playing the role of dad – OK, maybe slightly older brother – to a group long on talent but short on experience.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bucs stand pat at non-waiver deadline

    The Pittsburgh Pirates will receive some welcome additions to their roster in the coming days.
    The faces, however, will be familiar.

    July 31, 2014

  • Blairsville pegged as team to beat

    As Heritage Conference football coaches assembled at United High School during Wednesday’s media day event at Thomas J. Madill Field, the near-consensus opinion is that Blairsville – under second-year coach Rick Artley – is going to be the team to beat once the season begins on Aug. 29.
    After the Bobcats, the forecasted picture gets a little foggier.

    July 30, 2014

  • tim Baserunning blunder helps Giants end six-game losing streak

    Clint Hurdle says he and a pal often marvel over how there’s always something new to see at a baseball game.
    Too bad for Hurdle. What he watched Wednesday wrecked the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 7-5 loss.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • shazier Rookie linebacker making impression at Steelers camp

    Ryan Shazier grew up the football equivalent of a Rorschach test.
    Some coaches looked at Shazier’s 6-foot-1 frame with plenty of room to grow and saw a defensive end.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Greene’s No. 75 will be retired at Ravens game

    Joe Greene’s No. 75 now belongs to the ages.
    The Pittsburgh Steelers announced Wednesday the team will retire the Hall of Fame defensive end’s number during a game against the Baltimore Ravens on Nov. 2.

    July 30, 2014

AP Video
Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Poll

Do you think pet obituaries should be included with death notices?

Yes, my pet is considered a member of the family.
No, pet obituaries are inappropriate.
Pet obituaries should be placed on a different page in the newspaper.
     View Results
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide