Sports

Kyle Dake helps rally Team USA to win over Japan

Team USA closes first day of World Cup with 2-0 record

IOWA CITY — Kyle Dake is respectfully referred to by some as “Kid Dynamite.”

The exciting style and explosiveness on the wrestling met are good reasons for the nickname. He put it all on display for fans Saturday.

Dake scored nine points on two throws, igniting the crowd and fanning the flames of a hot seven-match win streak to help Team USA to a victory over Japan to cap the opening day of United World Wrestling’s 2018 World Cup of men’s freestyle at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Loud roars from CHA crowds are normally reserved for Hawkeyes but Dake sent fans into a frenzy with two front head-pinch lifts that led to a 10-0 technical fall over two-time Olympian and World silver medalist Sohsuke Takatani at 174 pounds. After a challenge was overruled and the result evened the dual score at three apiece, Dake raised his arms to stoke the crowd.

“That was awesome,” Dake said of the crowd. “I kind of put them asleep a little bit. Woke them up there at the end. Tried to get the crowd involved, jacked up. This is a big deal for us.”

Dake held a 1-0 lead when was able to get into a front headlock position. He elevated Takatani off the mat and realized Takatani was in peril. He hit the big throw in the center of the mat, held on and hit it again on the edge when Takatani tried to drive through him.

“I was holding tight,” said Dake, a four-time NCAA champion from Cornell University. “I wrestled pretty well and capitalized on an opportunity.

“I saw his feet come up right away and then all of a sudden I was like, ‘OK, I got him. Let’s go.’ He kept pushing so let’s go again.”

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Dake had a five-point move in a technical fall against India, outscoring two opponents by a total of 21-0 and using high-powered moves.

“He’s hungry,” USA Wrestling National Freestyle Coach Bill Zadick said. “He wants to be exciting. We have a whole team of those guys, who want to be exciting. He was certainly able to bring it today.”

The victory came in the midst of a run that started with James Green at 154. Team USA dropped the first three matches, rebounding to win the rest for a 7-3 team victory. Green stemmed the tide, scoring the first six points in an 8-5 decision over Kirin Kinoshita.

He was determined to reverse the team’s slow start.

“I want everybody to win, so it just fueled the flame,” Green said. “I went to go out there and get a tech but it didn’t happen.”

Green passed the baton to five-time World champion and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Jordan Burroughs, who handled world bronze medalist Yuhi Fujinami, 7-1, at 163.

“James and Jordan got things turned around for us,” Zadick said. “The rest of our guys were able to feed off that energy and wrestle pretty well.”

David Taylor followed Dake with a 12-2 technical fall, scoring 10 points after the first three-minute period at 189 and setting up World and Olympic champion Kyle Snyder to ice the dual.

Snyder tallied five takedowns in a 10-0 technical fall over Taira Sonoda at 213 before Nick Gwiazdowski capped the dual with his own technical fall at 275.

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“I felt good,” Snyder said. “I moved good. My hands have been moving well.”

Snyder has been a closer for Team USA. His win over Russia’s Abdulrashid Sadulaev in the World Championships final secured the United States’ first World team title since 1995. He put the United States in a good position to win Pool A with a dual against Georgia at 10 a.m. Sunday.

“I love being in that situation,” Snyder said. “That’s a situation that I thrive in, because other people might feel more anxiety and pressure but I’m really good at relieving that and just thinking about my effort.

“I know that God is in control and I trust that He has given me these gifts of strength, technique and awareness on the mat, so that I can go out there and glorify Him. That’s what I try to do each time.”

Japan lightweights came out strong, winning a rematch of the 2017 125.5 World finals and sending a hush over the home crowd. After receiving a forfeit against India Saturday morning, former University of Iowa three-time All-American Thomas Gilman fell to World champion Yuki Takahashi, 4-1.

Takahashi beat Gilman, 6-0, at the 2017 Worlds. Gilman initiated the offense again, but Takahashi countered for two takedowns this time.

“I feel like tactically it was a better match than the World Championships,” Gilman said. “We’re not talking moral victories, but talking improvement (and) being positive.

“I was actually in that match more so than the World Championships.”

Gilman isn’t going to dwell on the setback, waiting a few days to break down the match. He got down to weight and turned his focus to Sunday’s matches against Georgia and a possible gold-medal dual for Team USA.

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“It’s a job,” Gilman said. “The sun’s going to come up tomorrow. It’s just whoever steps out there I’m ready to go. It’s in the past. I put it behind me.”

Team USA opened pool competition with a 10-0 sweep of India. Georgia lost to Japan but defeated India. Georgia and Japan are both 1-1 in Pool A.

In Pool B, Azerbaijan is 2-0 with wins over Cuba and Kazakhstan. Cuba defeated Mongolia and both are 1-1 after the first day.

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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