Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sports Illustrated names wrestler with Ohio ties male college athlete of the year

Sports Illustrated ditched the glamorous for the obvious.

The magazine named Cornell wrestler Kyle Dake its male college athlete of the year on Wednesday. Dake isn't a recognizable name among casual sports fans. But there's not a more accomplished athlete roaming a college campus.

Dake won his fourth NCAA Division I title in March by defeating four-time Ohio state champion and Penn State junior David Taylor (St. Paris Graham) in the 165-pound final. The bout represented perhaps the most anticipated final in college wrestling history, and the NCAA juggled the weight classes so the 165-pound final was the final bout contested. Even a sport as archaic as wrestling bends for TV purposes.

Dake also won titles at 141, 149 and 157 pounds, making him the first Division I wrestler to win four national titles at four different weights. He accomplished the feat without taking a redshirt season. Cael Sanderson and Pat Smith are the only other wrestlers to win four NCAA titles. Sanderson, coincidentally, is Penn State's coach, so he sat in the opposing chair for Dake's historic victory in Des Moines, Iowa.

Dake ended his career with a 137-4 record. He didn't lose as a junior or senior. And he has Ohio ties. His father, Doug, won a state title at Westlake High School before wrestling at Kent State. Kyle attended high school in New York. Having some Ohio blood never hurts in wrestling.

Speaking of help, wrestling should benefit from Sports Illustrated selecting Dake over SEC football or Big East basketball players. The sport's Olympic future will be determined by an IOC vote later this month. The star power Dake provides comes at an ideal time.

-- Guy Cipriano | @newsheraldguy


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