Appearing on the world stage for the first time in a senior international event, Kyle Dake made the most of his opportunity.
Dake, a two-time state wrestling champion at Lansing High, defeated Jabrayil Hasanov, of Azerbaijan, in Monday’s 79-kilogram final of the UWW World Wrestling Championships in Budapest, Hungary, to capture his first world title.
Dake, 27, outscored four tournament opponents by a collective 37-0. He was seeded fourth entering the competition.
Hasanov is an Olympic bronze medalist and two-time World bronze medalist.
“It feels pretty great. I wrestled a little tighter than I wanted to, but I got the job done, stayed focused, held center of the mat and held good position,” Dake said in an interview with United World Wrestling.
“He’s a great competitor, he’s a veteran, he’s been in the game for a long, long time. I knew he was going to come a little bit different this time. Beginning of the match, I thought I had an early takedown; that would have been really big for me. But you’ve got to adapt to the situation, and that’s what I did.”
And when he grabbed that second point? “No sigh of relief, I wanted a takedown.”
While attending Cornell University, Dake became the first NCAA wrestler to win national titles in four weight classes, the first to win four national titles without taking a redshirt season, and the third athlete to claim four national titles overall. He was the 2013 Hodge Award winner as the national Wrestler of the Year.
The Outstanding Wrestler of the NCAA tournament in 2013, Dake became the third Cornell wrestler to capture the award and the first since Dave Auble in 1960. He won his final 79 collegiate matches to close with a 137-4 record.
Dake was a runner-up at the Olympic and world championship trials four times after graduating from Cornell in 2013, losing to Jordan Burroughs three times in the world trials finals and then to J’den Cox in the 2016 Olympic Trials. He briefly considered retirement before switching to the 79-kilogram class.
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