WRESTLING: Burk pins rival in dramatic fashion

Duke Burk braces himself as Missouri’s Dorian Henderson attempts to flip him Sunday. Burk went into overtime to land the Cyclones’ only pin of the day, pushing the Cyclones to defeat Missouri 28–10. Photo: Logan Gaedke/Iowa State Daily

Logan Gaedke

Duke Burk braces himself as Missouri’s Dorian Henderson attempts to flip him Sunday. Burk went into overtime to land the Cyclones’ only pin of the day, pushing the Cyclones to defeat Missouri 28–10. Photo: Logan Gaedke/Iowa State Daily

Jake Calhoun

Duke Burk was never known for wowing the crowd, but like they say, there’s a first time for everything.

Last Sunday’s dual meet against Big 12 rival Missouri was the senior 174-pounder’s moment in the sun, pinning a ranked opponent in Dorian Henderson — a foe who had previously gotten the best of Burk at the Midlands Championships earlier this year, winning by a sudden victory decision of 3-1 to put six points on the board for the prevailing Cyclones in the 28-10 victory over the Tigers at Hilton Coliseum.

“It was nice to get a win over a kid who had beaten me before,” Burk said.

Burk hit a skid of misfortune in the middle of the season, losing nine straight matches to drop from the top 20 rankings at 174 pounds.

“We told him he better start winning,” chuckled ISU coach Kevin Jackson when asked what he told Burk during his losing streak. “You better start winning here pretty soon or we’re going to be in trouble.”

After breaking his losing streak by placing second at the Grand View Open and defeating Arizona State’s Eric Starks by a decision of 7-2 in the Cyclones’ 30-10 dual victory over the Sun Devils, Burk was back to his winning ways going into his bout with 20th-ranked Henderson.

Burk’s bout with Henderson followed a popular trend of Sunday’s dual meet as both wrestlers went scoreless in the first period of action. Things began to pick up as Burk chose to start the second period in the down position. With his legs literally straightened, Burk exercised any hopes of shaking himself from his opponent’s grip before catching a break after a warning for stalling was issued toward Henderson. After a caution on the reset by Henderson, Burk began to gain momentum after being on all fours as Henderson’s entire body latched onto him like a leech, provoking the energized crowd at Hilton to urge the referees for a second stalling call on Henderson. Despite no call being made, Burk soon managed to escape Henderson’s clutches to go up 1-0.

Staring down the barrel of the third period with a 1-0 lead, Burk would have originally skated by to hopefully earn a close decision if he was lucky.

Henderson escaped from the down position to tie the match at 1-1 with 1:56 left in the match. Burk was able to get hold of one of Henderson’s legs in an attempt to bring him down, but Henderson quickly managed to draw both grapplers out of the ring as a loud string of boos quickly ensued from the crowd. Despite the valiant effort, Burk was unable to get the late takedown on Henderson, forcing the match to enter overtime.

“We still have to get better at our single-leg finishing positions,” Jackson said. “Duke could have made that match a little bit easier on himself if he finishes his single-leg [attack].”

The sudden victory period looked scary for Burk as he soon found Henderson with control of one of his legs. As he was yanked to a near defeat, Burk quickly retaliated by gaining control of one of Henderson’s legs, nullifying the potential takedown that would have led to the victory for Henderson.

“He had an opportunity to actually give the takedown [to Henderson in the sudden victory period],” Jackson said of Burk. “[Henderson] looked like he had him beat dead-to-right, and he was able to out-scramble him and get out of bounds and get a new start.”

A tiebreaker period ensued after both wrestlers failed to score in the sudden victory period. In the 30-second period, Henderson was again called for stalling in a similar situation from the second period with his entire body latched onto Burk, giving Burk a 2-1 lead and a possible victory. Normally, this would have been Burk’s invitation to hold Henderson off with a mere 23 seconds left to go with the lead, but Burk managed to get Henderson turned and pinned with four seconds remaining in the first tiebreaker period.

“Coach Jackson has been talking to me a lot about complete wrestling, keep wrestling like that in situations, and I think that continued to help me,” Burk said. “[Henderson] was just trying to hold on. Sometimes maybe in that situation I would have just held on too, but I kept wrestling and eventually got him to his back, and then he kind of gave up for a little bit once he went to his back; I didn’t feel much fight, so I figured I’d eventually get that pin.”

The surprise reversal and pin by Burk catapulted the crowd to its feet, pinning six points on the board and swinging momentum in favor of the second-ranked Cyclones.

“It was the highlight of the night,” Jackson said of Burk’s performance. “Just the way he fought the whole time allowed him to stay in the mix and get the win, but then not only getting the win but continuing to wrestle and get the fall. He could have stopped once the referee awarded points, but he continued to put the pressure on [Henderson] and got the fall.”

Next week will bring a tougher challenge for the aspiring history teacher, as he will face Nebraska’s Stephen Dwyer, the fourth-ranked wrestler in the nation at 174 pounds.

“Obviously, coming off a win you’re always going to feel more confident, but just because I got the pin this week doesn’t make next week any easier,” Burk said. “Dwyer is still one of the best in the country and he’s obviously earned that. So, no matter what I did this week I’m still going to have to work hard to get things done next week.”