Kyle Dake seeks to join a club that’s so exclusive, there are only three members.
The Cornell University senior, the No. 1 seed at 165 pounds at the 2013 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, looks to become only the third national champ to win four titles in the more than 80-year history of the mat championships.
If Dake does it at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on Saturday, March 23, he will join Oklahoma State’s Pat Smith (who won his fourth title in 1994) and Iowa State wrestler -- now Penn State head coach -- Cael Sanderson (2002).
Dake’s fourth title would have two distinctions that his fellow Four Timers Club members can’t claim: He did it without taking advantage of a redshirt… and each of his four titles were in a different weight class. Dake has progressed up the weight class scale, winning the 157-pound crown at the 2012 NCAAs, then moving up to 165 for this season.
Dake isn’t expecting a coronation. There are 32 other wrestlers seeking to play the role of spoiler – a Larry Owings to his Dan Gable (referring to the University of Washington wrestler who handed the Iowa State great his only college loss in his last match as a Cyclone at the 1970 NCAAs).
Arguably the guy with the greatest shot at denying Dake is his friend David Taylor, the Penn State junior, the No. 2 seed, and defending champ at 165.
Dake has defeated Taylor twice in college competition during the 2012-13 season. Assuming both men end up in the finals, will Dake make it a three-peat?
The NCAA appears to have planned for one or both of these college superstars to make it to the 165-pound title bout, having rearranged the order of the finals so that the 165 match will be the last of the evening.
Looking back at the 2012 NCAAs: Whatever happens this year, it’s highly unlikely the outcome will mirror last year’s 165-pound title match, where the top-seeded Taylor put on a takedown clinic on No. 11 seed Brandon Hatchett of Lehigh, scoring a 22-7 technical fall at 5:55.
There are four 2012 NCAA All-Americans vying for the title at this weight class. In addition to 157-pound champ Dake and 165-pound titlewinner Taylor, Virginia Tech’s Peter Yates placed fifth, and Illinois’ Conrad Polz came in eighth last year.
Meet the seeds: Of the twelve seeded wrestlers of the 33 total competing in the 165-pound bracket at the 2013 NCAAs, all but three came from towns east of the Mississippi River.
- Kyle Dake, Cornell: This senior stallion grew up five miles from his college campus in Ithaca, N.Y. It’s no surprise that Dake has compiled a perfect 32-0 record his last year as a Big Red wrestler, capping it off with the 2013 Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) title.
- David Taylor, Penn State: A four-time state champ from nationally-ranked St. Paris Graham High School in rural western Ohio, Taylor is 26-1 as a junior, having won the 2013 Big Ten championship last weekend.
- Peter Yates, Virginia Tech: This redshirt senior from Conyers, Ga. is 30-1 this year, nabbing the 2013 Atlantic Coast Conference crown.
- Tyler Caldwell, Oklahoma State: The Cowboy from Wichita, 29-4 as a sophomore, capped off a great year with the 2013 Big 12 conference title.
- Steven Monk, North Dakota State: A junior from Wausau, Wis., Monk scored 33 wins and only two losses… and pinned down the 2013 Western Wrestling Conference championship.
- Patrick Graham, Oklahoma. Originally from Annapolis, Md., this redshirt senior was 21-4 for the 2012-13 season.
- Conrad Polz, Illinois: A product of Carl Sandburg High in Orland Park, Ill. (just south of Chicago), this senior compiled a 22-6 record this year, and was runner-up at the 2013 Big Tens.
- Nick Sulzer, Virginia: Another graduate of a top prep program (St. Edward in suburban Cleveland), this Cavalier is 24-8 -- and 2013 ACC runner-up -- as a redshirt sophomore.
- Josh Veltre, Bloomsburg: A redshirt junior from Rochester, N.Y. who is 32-5 this year.
- Nick Moore, Iowa: This Hawkeye, who hails from Iowa City, has 18 wins, 8 losses as a redshirt sophomore.
- Cody Yohn, Minnesota: This Golden Gopher, originally from Anamosa, Colo., is 24-11 as a redshirt senior.
- Taylor Massa, Michigan: As a freshman for the Maize and Blue, the St. Johns, Michigan native is 25-7 for the year.
First matches for the top four seeds: Here are the first-round match-ups for the top four seeds in the 165-pound bracket at the 2013 NCAAs:
- No. 1 seed Dake vs. winner of pigtail bout between unseededs Mike Ottinger, Central Michigan (23-13) and Ryan LeBlanc, Indiana (22-8)
- No. 2 seed Taylor vs. unseeded John Staudemayer, North Carolina (27-11)
- No. 3 seed Yates vs. unseeded Mark Lewandowski, Buffalo (30-7)
- No. 4 seed Caldwell vs. unseeded Pierce Harger, Northwestern (25-8)
Meet the lucky 13 four-time finalists: Prior to the 2013 NCAAs, there have been just thirteen wrestlers who have competed in four Division I title matches, starting with Oklahoma State's Dick Hutton (1947-50). See the complete list at College Wrestling Examiner's College Wrestling 101 feature.
Want to know more? For complete brackets for the 2013 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, click here. And check out all College Wrestling Examiner articles on the 2013 NCAAs.
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