Having won four national championships in four years (2010-2013), Kyle Dake is usually the talk of the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. This year, Dake is doing the talking as an ESPN analyst throughout ESPN’s unprecedented coverage of the 2014 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships.
Dake, who is also a volunteer assistant coach at Cornell University, is one of three wrestlers — along with Cael Sanderson and Pat Smith — to win four national championships. However, Dake is the only wrestler to ever accomplish the feat in four different weight classes.
Before the championships began yesterday, Front Row caught up with Dake:
Why did you decide to work for ESPN as an analyst this weekend?
There is nothing I am more comfortable talking about than wrestling. I have lived and breathed it my whole life. Since I can’t participate, along with coaching, this gives me another avenue to stay involved. [ESPN reporter] Quint Kessenich has interviewed me before when I was wrestling so it will be fun to work with him.
A few thoughts on the competition this weekend?
I am going to be looking at the freshmen; their class is unbelievable. I want to see how they do on the big stage. Then, you have Penn State going for their fourth National Championship with Iowa and Minnesota chomping at the bit behind the Nittany Lions. It should be an exciting three days. I am going to spend the weekend watching kids fulfill their dreams.
How has the transition been from college wrestler to college coach?
I really enjoy coaching, helping people get better, but I am a competitor at heart. I love competing. I get goose bumps just talking about it. For me not being able to [compete at the NCAAs], that’s a little different. I am looking forward to being able to watch and analyze. My freshmen year was the first year I went to the NCAAs. Ever since, I have only been able to concentrate on myself. So this year will be a different and cool experience.
Editor’s Note: Dake is still an active wrestler and will wrestle in September at the World Championships.
ESPN’s coverage of the Division I Wrestling Championships continues today at 11 a.m. with quarterfinal action. Tonight, ESPN televises the semifinals at 8 p.m. Tomorrow, ESPNU televises the medal round at 11 a.m. and ESPN televises the finals at 8 p.m. ESPN3 covers individual mat feeds throughout the tournament.