KINGSTON — It’s not everyday that a four-time NCAA Champion is in the area.
So when it was known that wrestling superstar Kyle Dake was going to be taking time out of his busy schedule to be instructing a clinic at Wyoming Seminary, many wrestlers, coaches and followers jumped at the idea of getting to see the icon.
“It’s a nice experience learning some new moves and he’s done it all so he knows what we gotta do so the moves he teaches us are going to be good,” said Wyoming Valley West junior Cody Cordes, who was a Class 3A Northeast Regional qualifier last season.
Dake, who is the only collegiate wrestler to win four NCAA gold medals at four different weight classes, ran the session from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday with more than 60 wrestlers of all ages from elementary through high school learning techniques and conditioning drills from one of the greatest.
“Some of the stuff I knew, but a lot of the other stuff like technique-wise it’s good to know what he’s teaching us,” Cordes saidd. “He’s showing us what we’re doing is right and the other stuff like if you have a little mistake, how to get us better. That little movement we could do better to step up our game.”
Several coaches from the youth to high school levels were also in attendance. Wyoming Valley West head coach Drew Feldman was seen jotting down notes about certain moves he can show his team at a later practice. The Spartans were well-represented, as Feldman took nine of his grapplers to learn from Dake, who ended his career at Cornell last spring with a 137-4 career record.
“The basics are always the same, but the kids seeing from a four-time national champion that this really works is very beneficial,” Feldman said. “It’s great as a coach to see that it reinforces what we do in the wrestling room works.”
Dake, who is one of just three wrestlers to win four NCAA championships — joining current Penn State coach Cael Sanderson and Pat Smith — has ties to the area, as he was coached by Wyoming Seminary head coach Scott Green from fifth grade all the way through graduating from high school in New York. Even though Dake’s high school was about an hour from Green’s program in New York, he still made the trip several times a week to get more instruction from his mentor.
Dake said that Green, who has developed the Blue Knights into one of the premier prep wrestling schools in the entire country, has been a great mentor.
“Not enough, I don’t think,” Dake said when asked how much credit goes to Green for his success. “He’s the one that really taught me to believe in myself. He was just telling me all the time that I was going to be great and really it’s hard to explain how important that was at the time because I didn’t know at the time. Now, looking back at it you can see how important people like him were.”
Confidence is the message that Dake has for aspiring wrestlers:
“If you believe in yourself, there’s no reason a Kyle Dake can’t be coming out every year.”
Official practices for PIAA schools is just three weeks away on Nov. 18. One of the first big events in the area will be on Dec. 7 with the Wyoming Seminary Duals.