By Mike Finn
When it comes to the 163-pound weight class at this year’s U.S. Olympic Trials in Iowa City, most wrestling fans will probably be focused on Jordan Burroughs, who recently won a World championship at that freestyle weight this past summer.
But there could also be another match at that weight in Carver-Hawkeye Arena next April that current college wrestling fans, especially the families of David Taylor and Kyle Dake, will be closely watching. For that bout may indeed feature a meeting of the two top-ranked wrestlers for their respective schools: the 165-pound Taylor at Penn State and 157-pound Dake at Cornell, rival schools that finished first and second at last year’s NCAAs.
So what would the reaction be of these wrestlers who may each carry a 2012 NCAA title from their respective college weight classes to this possible freestyle event?
“They go out there and shake hands,” said Doug Dake, the dad of Cornell’s two-time NCAA champion. “Whoever won, won. There would not be hateful feelings. I feel they are old enough and mature enough for such a match.”
It also helps that both wrestlers have been good friends for nearly a decade.
“It would kill me to have them wrestle now but they will some day,” added Dave Taylor, the father of the Penn State sophomore who finished second nationally last March. “But I’m sure it would be a lot easier than when they were kids.”
Many such moments did indeed happen when both young men from different parts of the country — Taylor originally from Wyoming and Dake from up-state New York — met in many kids’ tournaments; the first coming in 2000 when they appeared in the Ohio Tournament of Champions after Dave Taylor moved his family to St. Paris, Ohio.
The Buckeye state was indeed the perfect place for Taylor and Dake to battle as kids who later become buddies. Though the Dakes were living in Ithaca, N.Y., where Doug Dake grew up, he was eventually an NCAA All-American in Ohio while attending Kent State.
“They became such good buddies that David spent a week or two one summer with Kyle and went boating and stuff with his parents,” recalled Dave, who is a commercial airline co-pilot out of Cincinnati.
“When Kyle’s family would come to Ohio for the holidays, we’d meet Doug and Kyle somewhere up the road and bring Kyle home and let him stay with us four or five days, where they would train together at the house.
“He was just like part of our family. He’s like the favorite kid that I’ve ever had in our house. He really is like having another son. They are like two peas in a pod and still love to get after it when they wrestle.”
“They are two little goofballs who have a completely different level of energy than your average kid back in those days.”
(The rest of this story can be found in the November 3, 2011, issue of Wrestling Insider Newsmagazine. Click on “Subscribe to WIN” button or contact our office at 1-888-305-0606 to receive this issue and a one- or two-year subscription to WIN.)