WASHINGTON D.C. -- On Saturday night, in the NWCA All-Star Classic's main event at 165 pounds, and before a packed Washington D.C. crowd alive with anticipation, Cornell's Kyle Dake managed to do something that no one else has been able to do in a college wrestling match. When Dake won by virtue of a ride out in double overtime, he became the first college wrestler to defeat David Taylor in a match that went the full distance.
Cornell's Kyle Dake lifts Penn State's David Taylor and returns him to the mat at the NWCA All-Star Classic (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)For the last two wrestling seasons Taylor has unleashed an impressive array of offensive weapons against his opponents, and Dake was able to nullify all of them. Dake was never threatened by Taylor's lavish top skills, and he was able to fight off each of Taylor's most threatening takedown attempts. In fact, it almost appeared, at times, that Kyle Dake had the reigning Hodge Trophy winner looking tentative and unsure of himself.
This is not to suggest this was anything but a closely decided affair. Dake, himself, did not generate any offense, and the match was decided in a tiebreaker. Taylor will likely have opportunities to reverse this result in future matches with Dake, and it would not be surprising if he succeeded. But no matter the razor thin margin of victory on Saturday night, Kyle Dake took to the mat and made a definitive statement, that at least for the time being, he is college wrestling's pound-for-pound king, and that for all time, he is one of the sport's very best to ever pull up singlet straps.
Saturday night was filled with other notable wrestling performances. At 197 pounds, Penn State's Quentin Wright proved that even when sloppy and somewhat underpowered, he is possibly college wrestling's most exciting competitor. For a moment it appeared as if Wright might rally for a last-second victory against a very impressive Matt Wilps of Pitt. Unfortunately for Wright, during his go-ahead take down attempt Wright was knocked back over his own trip, leaving him flat on his back and earning Wilps a win by fall. It is uncertain whether Wright's performance was due to an inability to adjust to a new and heavier weight class, or if it is just part of Wright's usual early season lack of form.
Boise State's Jason Chamberlain earned a 6-3 victory at 149 (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)At 149, Boise State's Jason Chamberlain, ranked second, looked every bit the serious national championship contender as he repeatedly doubled off his distinctive head-inside single on Oklahoma's ninth-ranked Nick Lester. Meanwhile at 141 pounds, Oklahoma's other all-star representative, Kendric Maple, showed why he is the top man at his weight class with a win over Illinois's B.J. Futrell. Maple demonstrated elite skills, and at times appeared physically dominant; his only shortcoming appeared to be a couple momentary lapses in focus which prevented him from really pulling away from his opponent.
There was a local winner in the lineup tonight at 174 pounds as Maryland's Josh Asper defeated Jordan Blanton of Illinois. Asper looks to have grown into a nice sized 174 pounder, and has to be considered a serious national title contender at this weight.
Dylan Alton topped Jason Welch for the second consecutive time (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)The 157-pound bout featured Penn State's Dylan Alton replicating last year's NCAA consolation final victory over Northwestern's Jason Welch. This match was absent of any successful offense until Alton earned the winning takedown with a knee pull single finished with a near-side cradle. At this point, Dylan Alton is another wrestler who must be considered to have a very good chance of standing at the very top of the national podium in March.
The match at 125 pounds saw Illinois sophomore Jesse Delgado prove why he is an extremely dangerous wrestler as he utilized smart tactics to nearly defeat last year's NCAA runner up, Penn State's Nico Megaludis. In the end it took a wild scramble, and Megaludis positioned fully in the splits, for Nico to exert enough control over Delgado to be awarded the winning takedown, despite the fact that Delgado still had Megaludis' foot secured against his chest.
Dom Bradley edged Mike McMullan at heavyweight (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)At 285 pounds, Missouri's Dom Bradley beat a bulked-up Mike McMullan of Northwestern in an entertaining and tightly contested match. The match at 184 pounds saw Lehigh's Robert Hamlin complete a workman-like victory over Minnesota's Kevin Steinhaus. Finally, the match at 133 pounds ended in an upset victory as Edinboro's A.J. Schopp, ranked sixth, defeated fourth-ranked Chris Dardanes of Minnesota. Dardanes looked as if he had won the match with a double leg in the closing seconds, but Schopp was able to whizzer out from off his backside, negating the potentially winning points.
Saturday night's NWCA All-Star Classic set the college wrestling season off with style. Fans now have an entire season of great wrestling to look forward to. Even more than that, fans can keep their fingers crossed that this season will see a few more repeats of tonight's main event. Let us hope that Dake and Taylor meet again, hopefully with an NCAA title at stake, the sport of college wrestling would be better off for it.
125: No. 2 Nico Megaludis (Penn State) dec. No. 3 Jesse Delgado (Illinois), 4-3
133: No. 6 A.J. Schopp (Edinboro) dec. No. 4 Chris Dardanes (Minnesota), 2-1
141: No. 1 Kendric Maple (Oklahoma) dec. No. 5 B.J. Futrell (Illinois), 6-2
149: No. 2 Jason Chamberlain (Boise State) dec. No. 9 Nick Lester (Oklahoma), 6-3
157: No. 2 Andrew Alton (Penn State) dec. No. 3 Jason Welch (Northwestern), 3-2
165: No. 1 Kyle Dake (Cornell) dec. No. 2 David Taylor (Penn State), 2-1 TB
174: No. 4 Josh Asper (Maryland) dec. No. 2 Jordan Blanton (Illinois), 3-1 SV
184: No. 3 Robert Hamlin (Lehigh) dec. No. 4 Kevin Steinhaus (Minnesota), 5-3
197: No. 3 Matt Wilps (Pittsburgh) pinned No. 2 Quentin Wright (Penn State), 6:50
285: No. 2 Dom Bradley (Missouri) dec. No. 5 Mike McMullan (Northwestern), 3-2
Preliminary Match Results:
Youth: Sam Kalishman pinned Gene Quodala, 5:22
133: Travis Barroquillo (Indiana Tech) dec. Sam Shames (MIT), 8-2
149: Kevin Tao (American) maj. dec. Kodie Silvestri (Wartburg), 12-4
285: Matt Meuleners (Northern State) tech. fall Jake Kettler (George Mason), 16-1