Kyle Dake Tops Former World Champion and World Bronze Medalist on His Way to Fifth at the Golden Grand Prix in Azerbaijan

 

Photo by BV

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.

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USA and Russia Split a Pair of Dual Meets in New York; Plus Cornell Wrestle-Offs, Hofstra in Oklahoma and More

World class international wrestling came to the Empire State this weekend, as Team Russia visited New York for a pair of duals against the USA.  On Saturday in Clifton Park, the visiting team captured a 4-3 victory, but the Americans returned the favor on Sunday in Ithaca by winning four of the seven bouts.

In the latter dual, three former Cornell stars represented the Red, White and Blue in front of the home crowd – Frank Perrelli, Kyle Dake and Cam Simaz.

Perrelli took the mat at 55 kg in the opening contest of the meet against Omak Syuryun.  Both wrestlers placed a week ago at the NYAC Holiday International (Syuryun second, Perrelli fourth).  It was the Russian that took charge early with a takedown shortly after the opening whistle.  He continued to add to his lead and finished with a 7-0 win.

It was a similar story at 60 kg, where Aleksandr Bogomoev got on the board first and controlled the remainder of the bout, defeating Jimmy Kennedy by technical fall to give the Russians a 2-0 dual lead.

However, in a back-and-forth affair, Kellen Russell shifted momentum at 66 kg.  The former Michigan NCAA champion fell behind 3-0 early, but fought back to take a 4-3 advantage at the end of the opening period.  The wrestlers exchanged leads for much of the second, with the score tied at 11 late in the period.  Russell then picked up two points for exposure and recorded the fall with just seconds remaining to get the USA on the board.

Photo by BV

It was then time for the second Big Red grappler – Dake – to take center stage.  He registered a pair of pushouts in the opening stanza to take a 2-0 lead after one. The only scoring in the second period was a pushout by the Russian with less than 30 ticks to go, giving Dake a 2-1 victory and knotting the dual at two matches apiece.

Clayton Foster kept things moving forward for the USA in a strong performance at 84 kg.  The former Oklahoma State upperweight attacked throughout the bout and for his efforts came away with a 9-1 triumph over Vladislav Gabaraev to make the team score 3-1 in favor of the Americans.

Next up was another Cornell graduate – Cam Simaz.  At last weekend’s NYAC Holiday International, Simaz met Georgii Gogaev.   The Russian took a 7-1 lead in that match before Simaz rebounded to win 14-7.  On Sunday, the two had a similar beginning, as Gogaev jumped out to an early 6-0 lead.  This time, there wasn’t a comeback, as the Russian notched a 9-0 win.

With each team having captured three matches, it all came down to the heavyweights —  Zach Rey of the USA and Aleksandr Kusraev of Russia. A passivity point and a pushout fueled Rey to the 2-0 victory and clinched the dual for the United States.

Prior to the main event, there were a trio of freestyle exhibition matches featuring New York wrestlers.

In the first, General Brown’s multi-time state placer Ryan Snow topped Ithaca’s Julian Korfine by a 9-2 score.  Next up was Lansing’s two-time NYS champion William Koll, who cruised to an 8-0 technical fall over Carl Rouse of Chenango Forks.

The third bout was a rematch of the 2013 Division I NYS finals at 99 pounds – Yianni Diakomhalis of Hilton and Vito Arujau of Syosset.  The two have met this offseason, with Diakomihalis, the #1 wrestler in the nation at 106 pounds, coming out on top.  However, on Sunday, Arujau earned a seven-point victory in an action-packed bout between two of the best freshmen in the country.

There were also bonus matches including Empire State standouts on Saturday at Shenendehowa High School before the first USA vs. Russia dual meet (aka, the Resurrection).

Porter, Photo by Justin Cummings/Spotlight News Sports Photographer

Women’s world team members Alexis Porter and Jenna Burkert were both totally dominant against Canadian opponents.  Porter, a high school senior, earned a 7-0 technical fall at 65 kg on familiar turf in her own high school gym over Keagin Collie.  After the first period, Porter led 6-0 and it didn’t take her long into the second stanza to end the match.

Burkert’s appearance on the mat was brief against last weekend’s second place finisher at the NYAC Holiday International, Michelle Fazzari, at 59 kg.  [Burkert was third at that event at 63 kg].  Burkert took control from the opening whistle and recorded a first period fall.

Then, it was time for the men’s competition.  Russia got off to a good start, capturing the 55 and 60 kg matches as Omak Syuryun topped Sam Hazewinkel 8-4 and Aleksandr Bogomoev picked up an 8-0 technical fall over Nick Simmons.

However, 16-year old phenom Aaron Pico of California turned the tide when he registered an 8-0 win over Alibeggediz Emeev, a wrestler who was the 66 kg runner up at the NYAC Holiday International last weekend.  In his senior level debut, Pico began with a pushout for a 1-0 lead about a minute into the match. That’s how the initial stanza ended, however, it wasn’t close for much longer as Pico notched a takedown shortly into the second period, added a pushout and then tacked on two more takedowns to clinch the victory.

Fay, Photo by Justin Cummings/Spotlight News Sports Photographer

Moza Fay then kept the momentum going for the USA, pinning Boris Makoev at 74 kg. But the visiting squad responded. At 84 kg, Keith Gavin controlled most of the contest against Vladislav Gabaraev and held a 4-2 lead late into the match.  It was the Russian, however, who owned the final minute, tying the score with 46 seconds to go and tacking on two more takedowns in the final 30 seconds to win 8-4.  Georgii Gogaev then made quick work of Dustin Kilgore at 96 kg with a 10-2 technical fall before Tyrell Fortune ended the dual on a positive note for the USA with a 2-0 win over Aleksandr Kusraev at heavyweight.

 

Also in Ithaca . . . the Cornell Wrestle-Offs

While Sunday allowed some of Cornell’s recent greats to take the mat on campus one more time, Saturday showcased some of the Big Red’s future stars in the Red/White Eliminations (wrestle-offs). The first five bouts of the afternoon resulted in major decisions, beginning with All-American Nahshon Garrett, who started the day off with a 17-6 victory over Bricker Dixon at 125 pounds.  Like Garrett, Mark Grey won a title last weekend at the Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open.  Grey continued his strong start to the season, piling up points during a 15-4 win over Logan David at 133.

With Mike Nevinger recovering from an injury, freshman Corey Dake took the spotlight at 141, notching a 9-1 triumph over Josh Kennedy.  Fellow rookies Alex Cisneros and Brian Realbuto then came out on top decisively at 149 and 157.  Cisneros defeated Conner David 10-0 while Realbuto bested Taylor Simaz 11-1.

Palacio, Photo by BV

At 165, fans saw the first close bout of the day.  It didn’t look like it would be tight initially, as freshman Dylan Palacio took control early against Bearcat Open runner up Craig Eifert.  Palacio led 6-1 in the second period after a pair of takedowns and a reversal.  But Eifert stormed back, knotting the score in the third to force overtime.  In the extra session, Palacio struck with a takedown to capture the 9-7 victory.

After grabbing third at the Bearcat Open, Jesse Shanaman followed up with a 10-1 major over Jake George at 174 while freshman Gabe Dean, who entered the national polls this week after beating two ranked foes in Binghamton, topped Billy George 7-2 with a late takedown and near fall at 184.  197 pounders Jace Bennett and Steve Congenie then endured a back-and-forth battle. Congenie had two takedowns but Bennett reversed him both times.  The difference was a pair of back points, as Bennett collected the 6-4 win.

Finishing off the wrestle-offs at heavyweight were Stryker Lane and Jacob Aiken-Phillips.  After a scoreless first period, Lane scored five straight points on an escape, takedown and reversal to win 5-0.

Cornell returns to action next weekend at home with a dual against Binghamton and the New York State Intercollegiates.

Hofstra in the Sooner State . . .

Vaith

The Pride wrestlers have certainly taken on a number of challenges early in the season, facing multiple ranked teams last weekend. Hofstra squared off with another tough opponent on Sunday, dropping a 36-6 dual on the road against Oklahoma.

The home team went ahead early with a decision by returning NCAA champion Kendric Maple over Cody Ruggirello at 149 and a major by Justin DeAngelis against Nick Terdick at 157.  The Pride got on the board with a 1-0 win by Joe Booth at 165 over Clark Glass, but the Sooners then went on tear, capturing six consecutive matches.  In a meeting of ranked wrestlers, Luke Vaith ended the dual on a positive note for the Pride with a 6-3 win over 2012 All-American Nick Lester at 141.

And Results from a Few Additional Tournaments . . .

Several New York wrestlers made the top four at the East Stroudsburg Open on Sunday.  Binghamton’s Jack McKeever nabbed the title at 174 pounds with six victories.  His Bearcat teammate Nick Tighe, a three-time New York state champion, earned third at 133 in his second-ever college tournament.  In the bronze bout, he topped Hofstra’s Kyle Krasavage.  (A few other Empire State natives placed, including Brown’s Billy Watterson (champion at 125) and Anthony Finocchiaro (second at 133).  Two other New York high school wrestlers made the finals – Harrison Cook of Penn and Patrick Hogan, wrestling unattached.  Sean Badura of USMAPS was fourth at 125.

Brockport traveled to the Wolverine State for the Eastern Michigan Open on Saturday.  Making the podium for the squad was 197 pounder Paul Glover, who finished first.  He began with three decisions, before coming out on top in the championship round against Kenneth Hayden of Michigan.

At the Roger Williams Invitational, Cortland took third place, driven by champion Lance Moore (285), second placers Brian Bistis (141) and Joey Giaramita (197) and bronze medalists Jacob Green (125), Brendan Dent (157) and Lou Puca (174).

 

In non-college action, three wrestlers from New York took top four medals at the Suplay Kickoff Classic in Tulsa.  For a recap of that event, see here.

Here are the results from the USA vs. Russia Duals:

USA VS RUSSIA RESULTS at Ithaca (Sunday) USA 4, RUSSIA 3

55 kg/121 lbs. – Omak Syuryun (Russia) tech fall Frank Perrelli (USA) 7-0
60 kg/132 lbs. – Aleksandr Bogomoev (Russia) tech fall Jimmy Kennedy (USA) 8-0
66 kg/145.5 lbs. – Kellen Russell (USA) fall Alibeggediz Emeev (Russia)
74 kg/163 lbs. – Kyle Dake (USA) dec Boris Makoev (Russia) 2-1
84 kg/185 lbs. – Clayton Foster (USA) tech fall Vladislav Gabaraev (Russia)  9-1
96 kg/211.5 lbs. – Georgii Gogaev (Russia) tech fall Cam Simaz (USA) 9-0
120 kg/264.5 lbs. – Zach Rey (USA) dec Aleksandr Kusraev (Russia) 2-0

HIGH SCHOOL EXHIBITIONS (FREESTYLE)

Ryan Snow (General Brown) over Julian Korfine (Ithaca)

William Koll (Lansing) over Carl Rouse (Chenango Forks)

Vito Arujau (Syosset) over Yianni Diakomihalis (Hilton)

 

THE RESURRECTION – USA VS RUSSIA RESULTS (Saturday) at Clifton Park, RUSSIA 4, USA 3

55 kg/121 lbs. – Omak Syuryun (Russia) dec Sam Hazewinkel (USA) 8-4
60 kg/132 lbs. – Aleksandr Bogomoev (Russia) tech fall Nick Simmons (USA) 8-0
66 kg/145.5 lbs. – Aaron Pico (USA) tech fall Alibeggediz Emeev (Russia) 8-0
74 kg/163 lbs. – Moza Fay (USA) fall Boris Makoev (Russia) 1:34
84 kg/185 lbs. – Vladislav Gabaraev (Russia) dec Keith Gavin (USA) 8-4
96 kg/211.5 lbs. – Georgii Gogaev (Russia) tech fall Dustin Kilgore (USA) 10-2
120 kg/264.5 lbs. – Tyrell Fortune (USA) dec Aleksandr Kusraev (Russia) 2-0

WOMEN’S EXHIBITION

59 kg/130 lbs. – Jenna Burkert (USA) fall Michelle Fazzari (Canada) 1:27
65 kg/143 lbs. – Alexis Porter (USA) tech fall Keagin Collie (Canada) 7-0

 

E-mail newyorkwrestlingnews@gmail.com with further results.

 

From Russia to Ithaca: Dake, Simaz, Perrelli to Compete for Team USA in a World-Class Freestyle Dual vs. Russia at Cornell

You don’t have to go across the globe to see some of the top wrestlers in the world.  On November 17, some of the best will be making the trip to Ithaca, NY.

Some Cornell greats will be involved in the festivities as Kyle Dake, Cam Simaz and Frank Perrelli, who combined for five national championships and nine All-American showings, will get another chance to perform in front of the home crowd.

“They’re all excited,” said head coach Rob Koll.  “They thought their Cornell wrestling days were over, but we just keep bringing them back in.”

The former Big Red stars will take part in a world-class freestyle dual between Team USA and the Russian National Team at 1 p.m. in Bartels Hall on the Cornell campus.

The American squad features a number of standouts, including Perelli (55 kg), Jimmy Kennedy (60 kg), Kellen Russell (66 kg), Dake (74 kg), Clayton Foster (84 kg), Simaz (96 kg) and either Olympian Tervel Dlagnev or Zach Rey at heavyweight.

“For us, it’s a great way to highlight what we have going on in upstate New York,” Koll said. “When we started here at Cornell, to think we’d have three guys who could wrestle at that level would have been a big jump.  It just shows you that you can get an Ivy League education and be training for the highest levels of wrestling in the world.”

Tickets for the event are $10 for general admission and $15 for chair back seats. As part of that price, USA National team coach and Olympic medalist Zeke Jones will be hosting a freestyle clinic from 10-12.

“We would like to sell out Bartels Hall, which holds about 4,500,” Koll said.  “Tickets have only been available for a couple of days and there are already 900 seats accounted for.”

In addition to world-class freestyle wrestling, there will be some high quality folkstyle action one day earlier in Ithaca as well.  On November 16, the Red-White Eliminations (wrestleoffs) will take place, helping to determine the starting lineup for the Big Red in 2013-14.

To purchase tickets, see Cornell Big Red tickets or call (607) 254-2327.

 

 

Four-Time NCAA Champion Kyle Dake Joins Cornell Coaching Staff

Kyle Dake compiled an incredible list of achievements while competing for Cornell, including an unprecedented four NCAA championships at four different weights.  His contributions to the Big Red will continue this fall, as the Lansing native has joined the coaching staff as the volunteer assistant, according to head coach Rob Koll.

Dake said that he looks forward to spending time in the Cornell wrestling room again this year.

“I think it’s a good opportunity for me interact with the guys, help the team and also focus on my training,” Dake said. “The wrestlers and coaches at Cornell have been a part of my family for as long as I can remember.  This is a small way for me to give back.  Even if I wasn’t a coach, I was planning on being in Ithaca.  It will be really cool.  My brother [Corey] will be there wrestling and there are some young studs who will make big splashes this year. I’m excited to coach and also have some great workout partners.”

Dake compiled a 137-4 record for the Big Red with 83 bonus points wins, including 44 pins. In addition to his four NCAA championships, he was also a three-time EIWA titlewinner.

Upon finishing his career, Dake made a smooth transition to freestyle, getting his hand raised in his international debut at the Rumble on the Rails event in New York City when he defeated Iran’s Hassan Tahmasebi. He followed up that performance by taking second at the World Team Trials in a loaded 74 kg class.

—————-

About a month ago, New York Wrestling News spoke to Dake about the World Team Trials and a few other things.  To see what Dake had to say, read on.

New York Wrestling News (NYWN):  At the World Team Trials, you had to beat Trent Paulson, David Taylor and Andrew Howe just to get to the finals series later that day with Jordan Burroughs. What was that day like for you?

Kyle Dake (KD): It was definitely a good experience for me because if you go to World Championships or the Olympics, you might have draw like that where you’ll have to beat some of the toughest guys and then later that day, compete in the finals.  It was a test for me to see what it’s like and what to expect in a one-day tournament.  My body and mind are used to having five matches over three days at NCAAs. Making that adjustment to one-day tournaments is important for me to get used to the freestyle mode. I think that’s overlooked sometimes – once you come into the freestyle scene, everything’s a little different.  You need to prepare yourself a little different. I was used to going slow and having time to recover and be at my best for every single match.  This is different – you have to be ready to wrestle the best in the world over a few hours.

NYWN: After those three matches, you faced Jordan Burroughs in the finals that night. You lost the first bout 7-0 but the second went to overtime.  What was the difference between those two matches?

KD: After the first one, I had to make the adjustments for my own sanity. I knew I should never be tech falled. That bothered me a lot. I was thinking, ‘what am I doing?’ I went out with the wrong tactics and game plan. I had a very square stance and that didn’t work, so there had to be a new plan.  I was able to make some quick adjustments to close the gap and challenge him a lot more.  I still didn’t get the result I wanted, but it was better.

NYWN: Switching gears, you have your own line of shoes coming out and a number of other things going on outside of wrestling.  Can you tell a little bit more about those things?

KD: I’ve had some unique opportunities. My agent, Nick Garone, has been the guy to take care of my deals and negotiations. I’m working with X-Cel, Cage Fighter, Championship Productions, Achieve Insights, Fox [CSI] Sports and Milwaukee Tools.  It’s good to have all those guys on my side and to have corporate sponsorships.  It allows me to spend my time training and coaching.

NYWN: In addition, since winning your fourth NCAA championship, you’ve had a lot of interesting experiences and honors come your way. Did any one of those stand out most to you?

KD: There were a lot of pretty unique experiences. Getting the Sports Illustrated award [SI’s Male College Athlete of the Year] was a big honor. They sent lots of people up to Ithaca for a big photo shoot and an article in the magazine.  The Dan Patrick Show was awesome too. I got to be on TV with a sports talk legend.  The ESPYs were amazing. I had the chance meet so many amazing people. It’s really cool to be around people who strive for excellence.  I had a chance to meet people like Adrian Peterson and talking to him and other great athletes, seeing that they weren’t superhuman like people think – that was awesome.  I can’t really pick which one of those things stood out the most – I’m thankful that I’ve had so many great experiences over the past few months.

 

Grapple at the Garden Update: Kyle Dake and Bubba Jenkins to Wrestle in Freestyle Main Event and More

 

– Courtesy of Madison Square Garden Sports

New York, NY, September 27, 2013 — Four-time NCAA National Champion, Kyle Dake, will face off against 2011 NCAA National Champion, Bubba Jenkins, in a much-anticipated freestyle wrestling main event on December 1 at the second annual Grapple at the Garden, presented by Suplay.com, MSG Sports announced on Friday.

Photo by BV

In a unique senior level showcase match promoted in association with X-Cel Worldwide, Dake, the former Cornell standout who became the first wrestler in NCAA history to win the national championship in four different weight classes, will square off against Jenkins, the former NCAA wrestling national champion and a current mixed martial arts fighter.

Tickets start at $20.00 and can be purchased at the Madison Square Garden box office, all Ticketmaster outlets and online at www.thegarden.com/grapple.

“It is very exciting to once again compete on one of the greatest stages in the world, in one of the greatest cities in the world,” said Dake.  “Personally, I am also really excited to compete against Bubba Jenkins. As a two-time NCAA national finalist, all wrestling fans know he is a great competitor. This year’s Grapple at the Garden event will be groundbreaking for the sport of wrestling, and promises to inspire thousands of young athletes as they chase their dreams.”

Jenkins added, “I am super excited about taking my wrestling talents to the biggest and baddest city in the world to showcase my skills under the bright lights of the illustrious Madison Square Garden.  It is a tremendous honor to have been chosen to wrestle in the Grapple at the Garden event, and one which I take with immense pride and will never forget. As my fans and friends already know, I am a big match, big move athlete. Come December 1, while wrestling one of the greatest wrestlers our sport has ever seen, Kyle Dake, New York City sports fans will learn that about me as well. I am humbled to compete in this historic freestyle wrestling match in The World’s Most Famous Arena.”

“X-Cel Worldwide is honored to be associated with the promotion of such a great event in the most famous arena in the world,” said Nick Garone President, X-Cel Worldwide.  “Kyle Dake vs. Bubba Jenkins is match-up certain to be filled with fireworks.  The Grapple at the Garden will make history with the first ever Freestyle Wrestling main event in Madison Square Garden.”

Joining Army, Bloomsburg, Boston University, Cornell, Drexel, George Mason, Hofstra, Illinois, Maryland, Penn, Princeton and Rutgers will be four local wrestling programs including Stevens Institute of Technology and NYU in an NCAA Division III matchup, as well as a match between the men’s club teams from Stony Brook University and Westchester Community College.  This will bring the total to an unprecedented 16 teams for the one-day dual-meet event.

In addition to the action-packed collegiate matchups, the second annual Grapple at the Garden, presented by Suplay.com, will also feature the finals of the Beat The Streets PSAL Thanksgiving Dual Meet Invitational. All 16 participating high schools including Horace Mann, Monsignor Farrell, Brooklyn Tech, Poly Prep, Benjamin Cardoza, Martin Luther King, Eagle Academy, Fordham Prep, James Madison, New Utrecht, Petrides, Martin Luther, Mt. St. Michael, Wingate, Grand Street, and Curtis will compete in dual meets.

Moreover, the finals of the inaugural Grapple at the Garden middle school championship, produced in association with the Metropolitan Wrestling Association, will take place prior to the high school matches.  For all middle school wrestlers interested in registering to compete, please visit www.wrestlereg.com on or after October 1. Valid tournament registration includes two tickets to all Grapple at the Garden festivities. All competitors must have a current USA Wrestling card.

The full day of wrestling on December 1 will include two dual meet sessions with the first starting at 10:00 a.m. with Maryland vs. Cornell, Rutgers vs. George Mason, Illinois vs. Bloomsburg, Hofstra vs. Army, Boston U. vs. Penn, Drexel vs. Princeton, and Stony Brook vs. West Chester CC.  Session two will begin at 12:00 p.m. and will feature Cornell vs. Illinois, Rutgers vs. Maryland, Princeton vs. Army, Bloomsburg vs. Penn, George Mason vs. Drexel, Hofstra vs. Boston U, and NYU vs. Stevens.

Suplay.com, the world renowned wrestling gear supplier, has once again signed on as presenting partner of the Grapple at the Garden wrestling event.

Collegiate wrestling debuted at Madison Square Garden on December 16, 2012 with the inaugural Grapple at the Garden which featured 14 teams; six No. 1 ranked NCAA wrestlers; five returning National Champions and six of the top 10 teams in the country.  You can now relive the historic event through INSIDE TRIP: GRAPPLE AT THE GARDEN.  This special 30 minute DVD is now on sale via www.XCELONLINESTORE.com for $24.95, which includes an official event program from the live event. INSIDE TRIP is your exclusive all-access, behind-the-scenes pass to this historic first-ever event. See the big names that attended the event, hear from some of the greatest past and present wrestlers of all-time, and watch the greatest sport take place at The World’s Most Famous Arena with INSIDE TRIP: GRAPPLE AT THE GARDEN.

(Press release from MSG Sports)

Catching Up on Cornell: Damion Hahn Talks About the Incoming Freshmen, Returning All-Americans and More

New York Wrestling News caught up with Cornell assistant coach Damion Hahn for a few minutes to chat about the Big Red.  Read on to see what he had to say about the team’s returning All-Americans, the incoming freshmen, Kyle Dake and more.

New York Wrestling News (NYWN): How has the summer been?

Photo by BV

Damion Hahn (DH): There’s been a lot going on at Cornell. We have some change going on, which is a little sad when you’re talking about someone like Jeremy [Spates] leaving, but also really exciting.  We’re really happy about the guys we had training this summer with our Regional Training Center program.  Having one of them – Mark Grey – make the FILA Junior World Team – that was great news to have him representing our country.  [Grey took fifth place for the second time at the World Championships]. Mark’s been working really hard and we’re looking forward to having him on the mat for the Big Red.

NYWN: Speaking of the Grey family, tell us about the coaching changes at Cornell with Jeremy Spates leaving to become the head coach at Southern Illinois Edwardsville and Mike Grey being promoted to full-time assistant?

DH: We’re excited to have Mike moving up.  He’s done a great job for the past few years as the volunteer assistant and we’re happy to have him on the staff.

As far as Jeremy goes, it was tough to see him leave because he was a friend and also a roommate for a year – he lived with me and my wife for a while. It will be hard to replace the wealth of knowledge and experience he brought to the table, and some of the technique he brought, especially the top work, which was phenomenal. But I’m super excited for him to get this opportunity as the head coach at SIUE.

NYWN: You talked briefly about Mark Grey.  He won the Edinboro Open, National Collegiate Open and Mat Town Open last year, while Brian Realbuto, Alex Cisneros, Gabe Dean and Dylan Palacio also had success at various tournaments. Which of the freshmen do you expect to have a big impact this year?

DH: It’s hard right now for me to pinpoint who will have a breakout or standout year because I think we have a lot of guys that could do very well.  First of all, they’re great kids who have their priorities in order.  They came to Cornell not only to get a phenomenal education but also to win a national title – individually and also as a team.  When you have great guys working hard together for a common goal, great things happen. It will be interesting to see who will break into the lineup.

I’ll try to address the guys you mentioned – Alex Cisneros is probably ideally a 141 pounder right now but could go 149. Brian Realbuto looks great at 157.  Dylan Palacio is very tough and is part of a four-man race for 165 with Marshall Peppelman, Craig Eifert and Jesse Shanaman. I’m sure we could see one or more of those guys move up when things start shaking out.  Gabe Dean did well last year and keeps improving.  He just goes and goes and goes.  He’ll be a lot of fun to watch.

NYWN: You mentioned some 165 competitors possibly moving up to challenge at 174.  Who would they be competing with there?

DH: Duke Pickett is back and looking tough. He’s battling with Owen Scott. Owen missed last year after surgery but is very strong technically and has looked good.

NYWN: Like Owen Scott, another freshman we haven’t talked about yet, Steve Congenie, missed last year with injuries.  What weight will he look to wrestle this year?

DH: Congenie is a 197 pounder. He was a little bit of an under-the-radar recruit because he was hurt his senior year of high school.  People might have forgotten about him, but he’s impressive.

NYWN: You talked about Owen Scott. At what weight do you expect his twin brother Craig?

DH: Craig’s probably a little over 225 pounds right now and will be a heavyweight.  He’s been making some big gains.

NYWN: With a lot of younger guys potentially in the mix, what are your expectations for the team?

DH: I think when you lose five national championships like we did with Kyle [Dake] and Steve [Bosak], you can’t just replace that.  But I think with the guys we have returning and the guys we’re bringing in, we’ll have an exciting team.  Last year we had a bunch of studs and this year, I think we’ll maybe have a more of a balanced team.  We’ll have some fresh faces in the lineup, mixed with some familiar ones.  There will be some battles and I feel that the guy who winds up representing every weight will be tough.

NYWN: Last year at this time you were excited about the freshman season of Nahshon Garrett.  That obviously went well with an EIWA title and a third place finish at NCAAs.  What are you looking for from his sophomore year?

DH: A national title is first and foremost for him. Last year, he had a great season.  A lot of people said he had a great national tournament and didn’t realize that he was good for the entire season – he beat a bunch of top guys. Some people saw him as a dark horse in some sense. We knew he was special as soon as he came in. I told him last year, ‘We have Kyle Dake right now and he kind of overshadows a lot of other things, but you will be the face of Cornell wrestling later. You’re the sparkplug. You’re the first person people see step on the mat representing Cornell and you have to get this team going.’  He did a phenomenal job last year and I think he can win a national title this year. He’s that talented and he works incredibly hard.

NYWN: Your other returning All-American, Mike Nevinger, is a senior who has made the podium twice at 141.  What do you expect from his senior year?

DH: Mike’s our workhorse. We have him projected at 141 again. You can never count him out. He loves the tough road – look at what he’s done at nationals.  He’s a leader and he leads by example – people look to him for direction. The great thing about him is that it doesn’t matter what tournament, what match, what period it is. He’ll fight 100% and you know you’ll get everything he has every time he’s on the mat.

NYWN: A lot of the focus last year was on Kyle Dake.  Will he be in Ithaca next year?

DH: Yes. He’ll be living in Ithaca and it will be great to have him here. He’s been amazing since day 1.  I’ve told people all along, don’t ever count the kid out. He’s a fighter and he’s an athlete. Some of the things he does – people sit back and say how did he do that?  He’s impressive in so many ways. I’ve never met anyone with the same mental toughness. It’s insane. It doesn’t matter what he’s doing; he feels he should and will win. Just having that mental edge is phenomenal. Everything he has done in his career so far is nothing short of amazing.

NYWN: What was his reaction to the World Team Trials finals against Jordan Burroughs? [Burroughs won in two matches].

In the first match he didn’t fare so well, obviously. He was beaten up pretty good.  But that’s the great thing about Kyle. He can make an adjustment, just like that. He went out in the next match and took him to overtime. It was a totally different match. He has mat awareness, body control – you name it. He’s the complete package. He knows that he has a World and Olympic champion in his weight class that he has to beat to reach his goals. He expects to be able to do it.  It will be fun to see how it’ll play out. I don’t ever count Kyle out.

NYWN: Anything else?

DH: We’re looking forward to all the young talent we have coming in from last year’s class and seeing how all the other guys progress.  We may be a little more under the radar going into the season, but I think it’s going to be an exciting year for the Big Red.

VIDEO: Vote Kyle Dake for the ESPY Award for Best Male College Athlete

 
 
It isn’t often that a wrestler is nominated for an ESPY Award.  Cornell’s Kyle Dake is one of four candidates for Best Male College Athlete.

Voting is at this link.

The following is a great highlight video by Riccio Productions to get out the vote for Dake: