The longest writing project of Kyle Dake’s Cornell career spanned 144 pages and exhausted two ballpoint ink cartridges, but it earned him zero credits toward his status as an academic All-America. This was a voluntary thesis, on the subject of making wrestling history. It took 3 1/2 years to complete and consisted mostly of variations on one line, handwritten 2,978 times in a spiral notebook with the university logo embossed in gold on its red cover. Once in the morning and once at night as a freshman Dake wrote, 2010 141 lb DI NCAA National Champion. Twice in the morning and twice at night as a sophomore he wrote, 2011 149 lb DI National Champion. Thrice in the morning and thrice at night as a junior he wrote, 2012 157 lb DI National Champion. Four times in the morning and four times at night as a senior he wrote, 2013 165 lb DI National Champion. Early on March 23, the day Dake would become the first wrestler to have won an NCAA title in four weight classes, he sat in a Des Moines hotel room and filled four full pages of the notebook with his final affirmation. He didn’t want to risk losing sight of his goal, and he had nothing better to do.
In a sport of tough-minded grinders, Dake became a legend — and SI’s inaugural male College Athlete of the Year — in part because of his unwavering focus on an annual goal. All of Cornell’s wrestlers think primarily of their sport, says senior 141-pounder Joe Stanzione, who shares a house with Dake and 32 other teammates, but "I feel like Kyle has a dream every night about wrestling." And in that dream? "He wins," Stanzione says. "Period."
GALLERY: A look at SI College Athlete of the Year Kyle Dake
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