Kyle Dake became the second American wrestler to win four consecutive world titles, pushing the U.S. to its most gold medals ever at a single world championships with one day left in Belgrade.
Dake notched the U.S.’ sixth gold medal this week, breaking the nation’s previous record of five golds in a single year, with a shot at two more on Sunday.
The U.S. is guaranteed to finish worlds with the most medals of any nation, its first time ever doing that outright. Russia, banned this year due to the war in Ukraine, won the most medals at the last three world championships.
Last year, the U.S. topped the Olympic wrestling total medal standings for the first time ever when it hasn’t been host nation.
Dake, a Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist, joined John Smith as the lone Americans to accomplish a four-peat at worlds. Dake won his first two at the non-Olympic 79kg weight class and the last two at 74kg, while Smith won all of his at 62kg (plus two Olympic golds).
Dake defeated Slovakian Tajmuraz Salkazanov 3-1 in a rematch of last year’s world final. Wrestlers from now banned Russia and Belarus earned gold and silver in the Tokyo Olympic 74kg division.
Next, Dake plans to move from Cornell, where he became the only wrestler to win NCAA titles at four different weights (2010-13), to Penn State to train with a club that includes Olympic champions Kyle Snyder and David Taylor.
The U.S. added silver medals Saturday from Olympic bronze medalists J’den Cox (92kg) and Thomas Gilman (57kg).
Cox was beaten by Iran’s Kamran Ghasempour at a second straight world championships, falling 2-0 in the final. Gilman fell 7-2 to Albanian Zelimkhan Abakarov in his final.
“I already got my tears out of me, and I’m probably going to have some more,” said Cox, who plans to move back up to 97kg in 2023 to challenge Snyder.
Also Saturday for the Americans, Snyder and three-time NCAA champion Yianni Diakomihalis (65kg) advanced to Sunday finals. Seth Gross (61kg) will wrestle for bronze.
If Gross wins his match, the U.S. will win its most-ever total medals at a single worlds, surpassing its 15 from last year.
U.S. men’s freestylers made the gold-medal final in eight of 10 weight classes, a program record (though in many years there have not been that many classes at worlds, and the absence of Belarus and Russia is noteworthy).
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