Kyle Dake defeated a Russian opponent, Boris Makoev, in Ithaca last weekend at 74 kg/163 pounds. On Sunday, he faced two more Russian foes, as well as other accomplished grapplers at the Golden Grand Prix Finals in Azerbaijan, where he took fifth place with some quality victories. The amazing part – he did it all with a fractured hand.
The four-time NCAA champion began the day well with a 7-1 triumph over Ali Shabanau of Belarus, a 2013 World bronze medalist. That victory earned him a meeting with two-time World champion Denis Tsargush of Russia and he picked up a huge 10-5 win.
In the semifinals, another Russian opponent, Gadzhi Gadzhiev, defeated Dake and in the bronze bout, the Cornell graduate and Azerbaijan’s former World bronze winner Ashraf Aliyev ended their match tied at 3, with Aliyev getting the victory on criteria. In his first big international tournament, Dake certainly showed his mettle, beating some of the top grapplers in the world, and doing so with a significant injury.
Jimmy Kennedy was the only USA wrestler with a top three showing, as he collected a bronze medal at 60 kg.