Four times at the NCAAs and four times in the finals for Kyle Dake. The 165-pounder will take on David Taylor of Penn State in the finals Saturday night after blanking Oklahoma State’s Tyler Caldwell 2-0 in the semis. After a scoreless opening period, Dake chose down and escaped in less than 10 seconds. Entering the third, he held a 1-0 lead and added a point for riding time after staying in the top position the entire final stanza.
Dake said “it feels good to be back” in the finals. And he’s ready for the challenge that Taylor will present.
“[Taylor’s] basically imposing his will and everyone is scared to wrestle him,” Dake said. “But I’m not scared, so I’m not going to let him do that. We both kind of know that we both have that same, similar attitude where, you know, I’m taking away his dreams and he’s trying to take away mine. That’s just how it is. It comes with the sport.”
Dake was one of three semifinalists for the Big Red – along with 125-pound freshman Nahshon Garrett and 184-pound senior Steve Bosak.
Garrett squared off with Big 10 champion Jesse Delgado of Illinois, who came out firing from the start. The Fighting Illini grappler took a lead shortly after the opening whistle with a takedown and never looked back in a 10-5 decision. He will take on Virginia Tech’s Jarrod Garnett in the morning.
Three-time All-American Bosak went toe to toe with top-seeded Ed Ruth of Penn State in the semis, however, Ruth’s first period takedown, escape and riding time gave him a 4-1 decision over the Big Red grappler.
Steve Santos of Columbia, like Bosak, faced the number one seed, as he wrestled Jordan Oliver of Oklahoma State at 149 pounds. Oliver scored early on his feet and led throughout in a 13-4 major.
While Dake, Garrett, Santos and Bosak ensured themselves spots on the medal stand earlier on Friday, 141-pounder Mike Nevinger needed a victory over Iowa’s Mark Ballweg in his first match of Session 4 to repeat as an All-American.
He got it done, beating the Hawkeye for the second time this season.
The Big Red junior got off to a fast start, converting a Ballweg shot into a takedown of his own. He quickly added a pair of back points and rode Ballweg out to take a 4-0 lead into the second with over two minutes of riding time.
The fireworks really started in the final stanza, when Ballweg made a furious comeback attempt, taking the Big Red wrestler down three times and earning a reversal. However, Nevinger held on for the 12-8 win and a spot on the podium.
“It started off pretty good,” Nevinger said. “I got a takedown and a turn so I was up pretty big, 5-0, after ride time in the first period. I wish I had closed it out a little better, but I mean, a win is a win.”
For Nevinger, it was the fourth victory in a row after losing in the opening round in overtime to Virginia Tech’s Zach Niebert.
“It was pretty heartbreaking, I mean, I came in here wanting to win,” Nevinger said of the first round loss. “I recomposed myself and I knew my team needed me. Two-time All-American is not bad at all. I needed to come back for my team and for myself.”
Nevinger did that and kept the momentum going later Friday night when he topped Minnesota’s Nick Dardanes to ensure he will finish higher than he did a year ago when he took seventh.
Also in the Round of 12 was Binghamton’s Donnie Vinson. The senior made a seven-match run to third place after losing in the first round in 2012. He once again had a winning streak after an early setback in his senior campaign, however, it came to an end on Friday night. Vinson led Oregon State’s Scott Sakaguchi for most of the match, but the Beaver grappler notched a takedown late in the third period to earn the victory. Vinson completes his career with the Bearcats with the most wins in the history of the program as well as a plethora of additional accolades.
Maryland’s Christian Boley also came within one win of the medal stand, dropping a bout to Oklahoma State’s Blake Rosholt.
So at the end of Day 2, there are five All-Americans from New York, all of whom will finish in the top 6. Stay tuned to see where they place on Saturday.
125: Nahshon Garrett vs. Jarrod Garnett (Virginia Tech)
141: Mike Nevinger vs. Hunter Stieber (Ohio St)
149: Steve Santos vs. Scott Sakaguchi (Oregon St)
165: Kyle Dake vs. David Taylor (Penn St)
184: Steve Bosak vs. Jimmy Sheptock (Maryland)