Alex Dieringer gets in on a shot against Kyle Dake at the U.S. Open in 2018 (Photo/John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com)
After a much publicized and somewhat controversial delay, returning world champion Kyle Dake and Hodge Trophy winner Alex Dieringer will finally meet to determine the final vacant spot on the 2019 U.S. World Team. While Dake has had a decisive advantage in their head-to-head meetings so far, some factors have shifted towards Dieringer recently. The following is a by-the-numbers preview of the bout, which takes place Saturday at Round Rock High School outside of Austin, Texas. The numbers include all matches tracked by USA Wrestling since each wrestler left the NCAA ranks.
Dake has won all four of their meetings so far. However, Dieringer has very clearly been closing the gap. Their first meeting was a 10-0 technical fall, but their last match was 5-5 and decided on criteria.
In their last bout at the 2018 U.S. Open both wrestlers scored a clean takedown. Towards the end of the match, Dieringer got in deep on a shot and both wrestlers exposed. Dake's points came last so he took the bout on criteria.
Since last match
Following that match Dake went on to make the 2018 U.S. World Team and win his first gold medal. He has not competed since the 2018 World Championships, but he will come into this match against Dieringer having gone 10-0 with five technical falls and two falls in his last 10 bouts.
Dieringer came up short in his bid for a rematch with Dake at Final X. He ran into fellow NCAA champion Zahid Valencia in the finals of the 2018 World Team Trials Challenge Tournament and dropped a pair of matches. However, since those losses, he has gone 18-1 with his only loss coming against returning world bronze medalist Akhmed Gadzhimagomedov (Russia).
Record since college
Since leaving Cornell, Dake has posted a 62-14 record with seven of those losses coming against rival No. 2 (at 74 kilograms) Jordan Burroughs. Of those 62 wins, Dake has won 32 via technical fall and three by fall. Only two of his 14 losses have been via match termination with both coming against Burroughs.
Dieringer's record since college currently stands at 57-12, which means that 30 percent of his losses on the circuit have come against Dake. He already has more falls (four) and technical falls (33) than his opponent on Saturday. Of his 12 losses, only two have been technical falls with one coming against Dake and the other coming against Olympic champion Hassan Yazdani (Iran).
Over the same stretch, Dieringer has averaged 7.89 points for and only 1.94 points against. In his his wins, he is averaging 9.23 points for and 1.11 points against. His biggest issue in his losses has been his offense. He has allowed his opponents to score 5.58 points against him in losses, but he averages only 2.00 points per match in his losses. In order to be successful against Dake he will likely need to find a way to put up points. That might be tough since he has scored only six points total in four matches against the world champion.
Despite being one of the best defensive wrestlers in the sport, Dake has actually allowed slightly more points per match than Dieringer. Through 76 matches on the freestyle circuit, he has allowed his opponents to average 2.48 points against him while scoring 7.23 points per match. In his victories, that rate balloons to 8.32 points per match.
*These numbers exclude matches that ended via fall.
Matches by year
There are two key factors working in favor of Dieringer heading into the Saturday bout. First, Dieringer has been much more active recently. He has already wrestled 14 matches this year, while Dake has yet to step on the mat in competition.
The other factor that could give Dieringer some confidence is that he seems to be continually improving. In 2019 so far, he has posted his best winning percentage since leaving Oklahoma State. Then again, Dake had perhaps his best season last year as well.