The 2022 college wrestling national championships are over … but the great...
Gable: More physical wrestlers performed better at the 2013 NCAA Nationals
Wrestling with a Legend Dan Gable
(from Volume 19, Issue 8 / April 9, 2013)
Editor’s Note: Dan Gable built up much of his legend by competing as a wrestler and coach in over 20 NCAA national tournaments. The native of Iowa recently spoke to WIN Editor Mike Finn about the 2013 Nationals in Des Moines.
WIN: What were your impressions of this year’s Nationals?
GABLE: I heard some complaints going in, which dealt with the size of Wells Fargo Arena, but I haven’t heard a complaint from those who attended … or didn’t attend the tournament.
WIN: How much of the tournament’s success dealt with the fact that ten former national champions competed, especially for All-American status and in Saturday night’s finals?
GABLE: You definitely had quality people. Regarding the quality of the wrestling, it depends on whose eyes you are looking through. I know I looked at it differently than most people. For example, I know how good (Jordan) Oliver is, but yet I saw Oliver wrestle too many strategic and tactical matches. When I watched him and (Jason) Chamberlain, they both wrestled one of those matches where neither one wanted to make a mistake.
I thought Oliver would be the kind, where he looks to score from the beginning of the match and winning or battling the entire match, knowing that he can win in the end.
I thought that (174-pound Chris Perry) wrestled really hard. Penn State’s Matt Brown is one of those guys who were a little bit more hard-nosed, but yet it was Perry who forced his style a little bit more. Perry is someone who likes overtime matches. He still has some mental development to go, but he’s the national champ. What won it for him was that he was able to throw his legs in and get that 30-second ride-out by flattening Brown out.
WIN: How did you rate the Dake-Taylor match?
GABLE: I always felt that if one watched them both, one would go with Taylor if you looked at the scores of his matches, where you’d see (Taylor) dominating and scoring more points than Dake.
I thought the winner would be the one who could force his style on the other guy.
I know Dake has won all these matches, but I thought if the match was held at a higher pace, where neither guy has control, I would have given it more to Taylor because of his low-ankle and knees (attack), which is what he did to Dake right away.
What surprised me was watching Taylor on the bottom. What also really surprised me was that Dake was able to thread a half (nelson) and be able to ride Taylor with a lot of weight on his head and where Taylor could not clear that half (nelson).
In reality, no one should be able to thread a half because you learn standing wrestling and you learn the bottom position, the two most important things you need to do to win in the sport of wrestling. It showed me Dake really knows his wrestling.
WIN: Was this a Dake strength or Taylor weakness that led to all the riding time for Dake?
GABLE: I think it was both. It was Dake forcing his weight to which opened up a half-nelson. When you put your weight forward, that allows the top guy to really clamp down.
I also think Dake is just a well-balanced wrestler. I’ve seen some of the moves he does off the bottom. He has that feel for winning positions. When Taylor scored on that low ankle and knee in the first period, that was textbook Sanderson. When you get hit there, there are no counters, no whizzers. You can only hope that you can twist and move two feet and run away from the move and the grip. The only problem for Taylor is that he did not put as much authority in his ride as he did in that takedown. That’s what switched the match around for Dake.
I think Dake is good on his feet, good on top and good off the bottom. If I look at Taylor, he is good on his feet, where he is a little more aggressive. He is also good on top, but if he has any vulnerability, it’s on the bottom.
Dake has the two essentials down and the bonus, which is riding and control and makes him a complete wrestler.
WIN: Because Taylor had pretty much lost the previous two matches against Dake earlier this year by not being able to escape from Dake, should Taylor have chosen neutral to start the third period?
GABLE: That’s why I believe Cael Sanderson was upset with himself after that match. If Dake had done that the two previous matches this year, and you are not a master from (the down position), then yes, you should start in neutral. After all, Taylor did take Dake down in the first period.
WIN: So where do you rank Dake in his accomplishments?
GABLE: For what he did at four different weights, he’s the one and only in that particular category. Sanderson is the one and only for winning four titles and going undefeated. Sanderson went on to win an Olympic gold medal so it’s going to depend on what Dake does in the future.
I still think what Sanderson did, and rarely had too many close matches and four NCAA OWs, that would be hard to beat.
WIN: How big of a deal was winning championships at four different weights?
GABLE: Wrestlers don’t usually grow that much in college. It usually happens in high school. I grew all through college, wrestling at 130, 137 and 142. It’s just really unique. The way that weigh-ins are now, being so close to match time, I don’t think he was undersized.
If anything, I thought he was more physical than Taylor. When you are on top and controlling the bottom guy, there are techniques but there is also a lot of physicality.
It’s a close power, like a bear hug or a grip with big forearms and shoulders. If you look at the two wrestlers, you’d think that Dake was more of a physical-type wrestler.
WIN: How much of that physicality came from Dake training with the Senior-level team this summer leading up the Olympics with more mature wrestlers?
GABLE: Most of these good guys don’t have to go to the OTC. They are able to do it right in their room, where Senior-level wrestlers also train. Think about Ohio State’s Logan Stieber, who has guys like (former World Team members) Shawn Bunch and Reece Humphrey training at the Olympic training site in Columbus, Ohio.
I do think the ones who make the move and stick with Olympic-level wrestlers are very effective. If a wrestler has someone like (2012 Olympic gold medalist Jordan) Burroughs in your weight class, the pressure of competing on the NCAA national championship stage is going to lessen.
If you become a practice partner with any Olympian, you are much more prepared for the college level, even at the highest level of the NCAA tournament.
WIN: How would you describe Ed Ruth, who has now won two national championships at two different weights?
GABLE: I need to go to YouTube.com and watch his matches again. He does a
single-leg takedown that I’ve never seen before. Usually, I can see something live and pick it up. But as basic as a single-leg takedown is, he hits a setup on a single-leg where he ends up in a finish situation that I’ve never seen anyone else do. The second part of his move puts him right into the finish situation. He is able to get around the corner faster than anyone else. He intrigues me.
I don’t believe it’s just because he is quicker. There is a skill he has that other guys in this sport can pick up.