May 22, 2013, 11:31 AM EST
Any American still looking for a decent reason to support the “Keep Olympic Wrestling” movement need look no further than Cornell wrestler Kyle Dake: The four time NCAA national champ who was also the only USA wrestler to score a win against Iran at last week’s “Rumble on the Rails.”
And now, on top of his successes in the ring and his recent charismatic appearance on the Dan Patrick Show, Dake has also been named the inaugural Sports Illustrated College Athlete of the Year for winning his four already impressive national titles at four different weight classes.
“What Kyle did is more remarkable than anybody who came before him,” Cornell coach Rob Koll told SI’s Luke Winn. “I’m not saying he was better than Cael [Sanderson] or better than Pat Smith. I’m just saying I believe what he did was more remarkable, even though he lost some matches in his career.”
Dake went 137-4 during in college, moving up a weight class each season from 141 pounds to 149, 157, and finally 165 as a senior. And he admitted that the moves were as much about helping his team and that proving wrestlers don’t always need to cut weight as they were about his historic feat.
Dake didn’t make it to London last summer, probably because he shares a weight class with Olympic 74kg freestyle gold medalist Jordan Burroughs. But as one of the world’s top wrestlers, expect to see Dake in Rio, and expect to see him continue the fight to “Keep Olympic Wrestling.”
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