DES MOINES, Iowa -- Kyle Dake thought he knew what it might feel like to make history as the first wrestler to win four NCAA Division I titles at four different weight classes.
Cornell's Kyle Dake gets interviewed by ESPN's Quint Kessenich after winning his fourth straight NCAA title (Photo/John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com)On Saturday night he found out.
Dake accomplished the almost unimaginable feat of winning four NCAA Division I titles in four different weight classes capped off by a 5-4 victory over Penn State's David Taylor in the NCAA finals at 165 pounds. What the Cornell senior felt after the match, though, was much different than he imagined.
"It's not even close," said Dake. "I was really happy. Every time I visualized myself winning I had a huge smile on my face. I don't think I've smiled bigger ever in my life. It's been an amazing experience."
On Saturday night Dake found himself in a 2-0 hole early in the match after giving up a quick takedown off a Taylor ankle pick. But Dake took the lead 3-2 late in the first period after escaping and getting a takedown of his own off a low single leg attack. Dake added an escape in the second period to lead 4-2 heading into the final period.
Dake then rode Taylor for most of the third period, accumulating a riding time point in the process. Dake gave up a point for a second stalling call before Taylor escaped with 19 seconds left. But it was too little too late and the match would end 5-4 in favor of Dake.
Kyle Dake gets his hand raised after a 5-4 victory over Penn State's David Taylor (Photo/John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com)His first title came at 141 pounds in 2010 as a true freshman. As a sophomore, Dake moved up to 149 pounds and won the title at 149 pounds, outscoring his opponents at the NCAA tournament 32-1. Last season Dake cruised to the NCAA title at 157 pounds with three pins and only one point surrendered. At this week's tournament at 165 pounds he outscored his opponents 32-0 heading into his finals match against Taylor, a returning NCAA champion and Dan Hodge Trophy winner.
Dake becomes only the third wrestler ever to win four NCAA Division I titles, joining Pat Smith and Cael Sanderson.
"I finished the book ... the college wrestling book, I finished it," said Dake. "I finished it with coming out on top, 20-0 at NCAAs. Only two other people have done that in Division I level. I'm just really happy to be a part of that group. But I already have another book. I'm going to put the one I have right now on the shelf and the new one is going to come down."
Penn State captured its third straight national championship and finished with 123.5 points, four points ahead of Oklahoma State (119.5). Minnesota finished in third with 103 points and had the most All-Americans with eight. Iowa (73) and Cornell (65) finished fourth and fifth respectively.
"We're super happy," said Penn State coach Cael Sanderson. "Our guys did a great job. It was back and forth. Our guys came through. I think every year you have different challenges. It certainly doesn't get easier. That first one was super special, but it doesn't get easier. I'm really proud of these guys for the effort and what they did."
The Nittany Lions advanced five wrestlers (half their lineup) to the NCAA finals, and crowned two NCAA champions: Ed Ruth (184) and Quentin Wright (197).
Penn State's Ed Ruth finished the season 38-0 and extended his win streak to 68 (Photo/John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com)For Ruth, it was his second straight NCAA title, but first at 184 pounds. He was dominant in the finals, earning a 12-4 major decision victory over Lehigh's Robert Hamlin.
Ruth scored three takedowns in the final period to earn the bonus point and help his team in a close team race.
"At first it was more just me building my lead," said Ruth, who finished the season 38-0 and extended his win streak to 68. "But as I saw my lead just kept getting bigger and bigger, I looked over at the coaches and they were just saying 'cut him, cut him.' So I'm like oh wow, they must be going for the major. I wasn't even sure that last takedown was for the major, but I just really wanted to get it."
Wright came through as the No. 2 seed, knocking off top-seeded and previously unbeaten Dustin Kilgore of Kent State to win the title at 197 pounds. The two past NCAA champions traded takedowns in the first period and the match was tied 3-3 heading into the second period. Wright took a 4-3 lead in the second period after an escape. But Kilgore would even the score at 4-4 in the third with an escape of his own. Then Wright took control of the match in the final minute by scoring two takedowns from an underhook to a knee pick and rolling to the 8-6 victory.
Quentin Wright took down Dustin Kilgore three times in their NCAA finals match (Photo/John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com)Kilgore did not surrender a takedown during the regular season, but was taken down three times in the finals by Wright.
"I used the underhook and found a way," said Wright, who is now a two-time NCAA champion and three-time NCAA finalist. "It played right into how I wrestle. It worked real well out there."
Oklahoma State went two-for-two in the finals and finished with seven All-Americans.
"I think we had the tournament we needed to have to give ourselves a chance," said Oklahoma State coach John Smith. Looking back on it, it just wasn't enough this time."
The Cowboys had two individual champions: Chris Perry (174) and Jordan Oliver (149). Both came through as No. 1 seeds.
Chris Perry was one of two NCAA champions for Oklahoma State (Photo/John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com)Perry won his title by edging Penn State's Matt Brown 2-1 in tiebreaker. The two wrestlers battled to a scoreless first period, and then traded escapes in the second and third period to make the score 1-1 at the end of regulation. Neither wrestler was able to score in the one-minute sudden victory period, which sent the match to tiebreaker. Perry started the tiebreaker period by riding out Brown for 30 seconds. Then, with Brown starting on top, Perry was able to get a quick escape and hold on for the victory.
Perry comes from a legendary wrestling family. His older brother Mark won two NCAA titles for Iowa. His father coached at the Division I level. His uncles John, Pat, Lee Roy, and Mark Smith won numerous national and international titles.
"Being around my family we don't accept second," said Perry. "I was pretty excited yesterday making the finals, but I knew if I lost it was a failure. In our family we don't accept second. We don't sleep if we get second."
For Oliver, it was his second NCAA title. He won his first title in 2011 at 133 pounds and finished runner-up last season. This season he moved up two weight class to 149 pounds and earned his title on Saturday night by defeating No. 2 Jason Chamberlain of Boise State, 3-2.
Jordan Oliver gets in on a shot against Boise State's Jason Chamberlain (Photo/Austin Bernard, Tech-Fall.com)Oliver and Chamberlain were knotted at 1-1 late in the match before the Cowboy scored a takedown off a slide-by with under ten seconds reaming to take the match.
Oliver had high praise for his finals opponent after the match.
"Jason is a great wrestler," said Oliver. "He's incredible, very strong and talented. Right in the beginning of the match could I feel not only was his defense good, but I could feel his go-arounds ... and if I wasn't careful enough I would get re-attacked. Real strong opponent. He was able to slow me up a little bit."
Ohio State's Logan Stieber capped off an undefeated season (27-0) by winning his second straight NCAA title at 133 pounds with a hard-fought 7-4 victory over Tony Ramos of Iowa. Stieber used two takedowns in the first period to race out to a 4-1 lead. In the second period Ramos scored a takedown off a shot and put the Buckeye in danger by locking up a cradle, nearly picked up nearfall points. Iowa challenged the no-call, but it stood and Stieber controlled the match the rest of the way.
Stieber, a two-time NCAA champion in two seasons, is halfway to joining Pat Smith, Cael Sanderson, and now Kyle Dake as a four-time NCAA Division I champion.
"I'll worry about four if I get three," said Stieber. "I have to worry about next year first."
Minnesota junior Tony Nelson gives a fist pump after winning his second straight NCAA championship at heavyweight (Photo/Mark Beshey, The Guillotine)Also winning a second straight NCAA title was Minnesota's Tony Nelson, who topped Northwestern's Mike McMullan 6-2 in the championship match at heavyweight. Nelson scored takedowns in the first and third periods to pace him to the victory.
Nelson becomes the fifth Gopher wrestler to earn back-to-back championships. The last Minnesota wrestler to accomplish the feat was another Gopher heavyweight, Cole Konrad in 2006 and 2007. Nelson will have a chance to win a third NCAA title next season as a senior.
"After I won it last year, and even before it, one of my goals was to be the first three-timer from Minnesota ... Cole Konrad, Brock Lesnar. Brock won it once, Cole won it twice. So I'm right up there with him, and he's a guy that I've always looked up to. So to be up there with him is a big accomplishment.
Jesse Delgado earned nearfall points in the third period (Photo/John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com)Jesse Delgado of Illinois rode the momentum of winning the Big Ten title two weeks ago to earn his first NCAA title at 125 pounds. His finals victory came over Penn State's Nico Megaludis, 7-4.
Neither wrestler was able to earn a takedown in the first two periods. The match was tied 1-1 in the third period before Delgado won a critical scramble that resulted in a takedown and three nearfall points from a cradle, which made the score 6-1 in favor of the Illinois wrestler. Megaludis escaped and earned a late takedown, but it wasn't enough as Delgado held on for the win.
Delgado said a turning point in his season came in mid-January.
"I was having a rough season the first half," said Delgado. "It was right before the Nebraska dual, I think, I was on the phone with my mom. I was pretty emotional. She just gave me a talk. After that I feel like my season turned around. I started focusing on all the right things. I just committed to what Mark (Perry) and Jeremy (Hunter) were telling me to do. That was the turning point I feel like."
Iowa's Derek St. John edged Jason Welch in the finals at 157 (Photo/John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com)Iowa's Derek St. John climbed to the top spot on the podium at 157 pounds after finishing as an NCAA runner-up to Kyle Dake last season. St. John edged top-seeded Jason Welch of Northwestern in the finals, 3-2, despite losing the takedown battle.
The match was scoreless after the first two periods after St. John rode out Welch the entire second period. In the third period Welch locked his hands as St. John tried to escape, which gave the Iowa wrestler a 1-0 lead. St. John escaped a short time later to make it 2-0. Welch then scored a takedown of a reshot on the edge of the mat to make it 2-2 on the scoreboard, but the Northwestern wrestler was unable to erase St. John's riding time point, and it would end 3-2 in favor of the Hawkeye.
"It's unbelievable, it's awesome," said St. John of winning his first NCAA title. "It's something I've been working the last four years for ... and finally got it. It's unbelievable."
Oklahoma's Kendric Maple won the title at 141 pounds with a 4-3 victory over Edinboro's Mitchell Port. Maple finished the season with a record of 31-0 and becomes one of only six wrestlers to finish the season undefeated, along with Ruth, Wright, Stieber, Oliver, and Dake.
He becomes the program's 66th national champion and Mark Cody's first at Oklahoma.
"It's a great honor to get here," said Maple. "I just love the sport."
125: Jesse Delgado (Illinois) dec. Nico Megaludis (Penn State), 7-4
133: Logan Stieber (Ohio State) dec. Tony Ramos (Iowa), 7-4
141: Kendric Maple (Oklahoma) dec. Mitchell Port (Edinboro), 4-3
149: Jordan Oliver (Oklahoma State) dec. Jason Chamberlain (Boise State), 3-2
157: Derek St. John (Iowa) dec. Jason Welch (Northwestern), 3-2
165: Kyle Dake (Cornell) dec. David Taylor (Penn State), 5-4
174: Chris Perry (Oklahoma State) dec. Matt Brown (Penn State), 2-1 TB
184: Ed Ruth (Penn State) maj. dec. Robert Hamlin (Lehigh), 12-4
197: Quentin Wright (Penn State) dec. Dustin Kilgore (Kent State), 8-6
285: Tony Nelson (Minnesota) dec. Mike McMullan (Northwestern), 6-2