Cornell wrestler Kyle Dake, graduating this weekend after making history this spring as a four-time national champion, made history today as Sports Illustrated named him as the magazine's first male College Athlete of the Year.
Cornell wrestler Kyle Dake at a campus appearance last year. 14850 Photo.Sports Illustrated says "Dake became a legend -- and SI's inaugural male College Athlete of the Year -- in part because of his unwavering focus on an annual goal." The magazine quotes teammate Joe Stanzione as saying "I feel like Kyle has a dream every night about wrestling." And in that dream? "He wins," Stanzione said. "Period."
Two months ago at the national championship wrestling tournament in Des Moines, Dake became just the third wrestler in NCAA history to earn four national titles, and the first ever to do it in four different weight classes. He beat Penn State wrestler David Taylor in the 165-pound class. "I knew that I could come back from a deficit, and I did, and I proved to everyone that I deserve it and I worked really hard for it this year," he said that night.
The Lansing native and Lansing High School alum has used the bullhorn offered by his increasing popularity on Twitter to push his fans to oppose the International Olympic Committee's recent decision to eliminate wrestling from the Olympics. When it announced 25 "core sports" for the 2020 Olympics, the IOC left off wrestling, which was one of the sports that premiered in the first modern Olympic Games in Athens, in 1896. The list still includes such recreational sports as badminton, handball, and table tennis.
Dake earned more than 51% of votes on a Sports Illustrated web poll in a field of five male athletes. Others in the running were Michigan basketball star Trey Burke and Duke basketball player Tyler Thomton, with Khaled Holmes of USC football and St. Cloud State hockey player Drew LeBlanc each earning less than 10% of the vote.