NOTEBOOK: Dake, Taylor square off in Des Moines-hosted NCAAs


Photo: William Deaton/Iowa State Daily

A panoramic view of the sold-out crowd at Wells Fargo Arena while the 2013 NCAA Wrestling Championships go under way on March 21, 2013, in Des Moines, Iowa. 

Jake Calhoun

DES MOINES — In one of the world’s wrestling hotbeds, the NCAA succeeded in putting on a show.

The 2013 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championship drew droves of wrestling fans to Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa, setting the stage for the marquee event of the 165-pound title match: Then-three-time Kyle Dake (Cornell) against returning Dan Hodge Trophy winner David Taylor (Penn State).

“You don’t want to change your mindset for any match,” Dake said after beating Taylor in a 5-4 thriller. “You want to stay solid and level-headed.”

History was made with Dake becoming the third wrestler in NCAA history to win four titles and the first ever to win four in four different weight classes (141, 149, 157, 165).

In anticipation for a Dake-Taylor finals at 165 pounds, the NCAA made the executive decision to rearrange the order of the finals at start at 174 and end with 165 — even if someone else found their way to Saturday night.

But alas, Dake and Taylor sprinted to the finals — Taylor doing so with four pins — to square off on the big stage with everyone watching on ESPN.

The match lived up to the hype and more with the two jawing at each other for the full seven minutes. Dake won the deciding point with the one-minute riding time advantage at a knotted 4-4 score.

The match even led off ESPN’s Sportscenter.

“That’s pretty awesome,” Dake said of the exposure. “Any time that wrestling can get on national television, that’s a pretty big step for us.”

Even though Taylor lost, his four pins in the tournament were integral to Penn State’s third-straight NCAA team title. Penn State coach Cael Sanderson, who coached Iowa State for three seasons, felt proud of Taylor, who is now 1-2 in NCAA title matches.

“David Taylor, he led Penn State to three national championshps through his great leadership, his hustle, his love of competing,” Sanderson said Saturday night. “He’s made the sport a better sport and I couldn’t be more proud of the kid.”

The Nittany Lions had five wrestlers in the tournament’s ten finals, with two — Ed Ruth at 184 pounds and Quentin Wright at 197 — winning titles.

However, two was all they would need to come away with the victory for good after Wright’s 8-6 upset decision against top-seeded Dustin Kilgore of Kent State.

“That’s what it takes: It takes character and that’s what this sport is all about,” Sanderson said. “It’s just been tough.”

St. John wins, Ramos dropped in finals

Even though Iowa State did not have anyone reach a title match for the second year in a row, in-state rival Iowa had two wrestlers on the sport’s big stage — 133-pounder Tony Ramos and 157-pounder Derek St. John.

In the 133-pound match, Ramos faced off with rival Logan Stieber of Ohio State, the defending 133-pound champion.

Ramos caught Stieber on his back for a split second, causing the crowd laden with Hawkeye fans to go in an uproar. However, Ramos was not awarded any back points, settling for the mere two he got from the takedown.

“I knew it was close to nearfall, but I don’t think it was,” Stieber said. “They looked at it for like 10 minutes, but that pretty much confirms it wasn’t.”

Ramos would go on to lose 7-4 — his sixth loss in two seasons, five of which came to Stieber — to take second at 133 pounds.

St. John continued his success against Northwestern’s Jason Welch, the top seed, beating him 3-2 to win the 157-pound title. Last season, St. John lost to Dake to place second at 157.

“It’s unbelievable, it’s awesome,” St. John said. “It’s what I’m working the last four years for, and I finally, finally got it. It’s unbelievable. It’s just unbelievable.”