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Georgia Archives Match of the Week #10

By Georgia Grappler, 08/10/22, 6:15PM AKDT


Dustin Kawa NC State vs Nick Passolano Iowa State North Carolina State vs Iowa State Home Dual 174lbs 2002

Georgia Archives Match of the Week #10


A little background to start off the story behind this match and dual. This was arguably the greatest wrestler of all-times’ final home match in Cael Sanderson with a sold-out crowd at Hilton Coliseum. Iowa State was currently the #4 tanked team in the country vs a very tough NC State. Dan Gable is announcing which was very rare after his coaching days as a Hawkeye. I think most would say that these two guys Sanderson and Gable are secured in their spots at the Mount Rushmore of wrestling. That’s not what we’re here to talk about though, we’re here to talk about Dustin Kawa. Dustin would come out on top in this match 5-2, scoring off two takedowns, and an escape. Passolano just wasn't able to handle the funk that Kawa brought to the match. We would go on to see a lot of these same skills and techniques in the years to come in many of his trained athletes.


Dustin started his career as a phenom winning 7 Kids State Championships. He was looking to take that pace to the next level. You see so many great young wrestlers burn out when they get to High School or College, but Dustin was not one of those cases. He would continue his tear on the State of Georgia by becoming a 3x 4A GHSA State Champion for Shiloh High School. Dustin would only lose 3 matches ever in his High School career, going 154-3. However, in his Senior Year of High School he had quite possibly the greatest season of any Georgia Wrestler ever. He would go undefeated in both the post and regular season, going on to become the first wrestler ever from the State of Georgia to win NHSCA Senior Nationals in the year 1999 (match is already logged and coming at a later date). He would also be named the Georgia Wrestler of the Year and the #1 wrestler in the country at 171lbs. With that status he went on to commit with a full ride scholarship to NC State. Dustin left a great message in, “Winning NHSCA’s and becoming the first GA wrestler to do so was a pretty special experience.  It was one of the biggest moments in Georgia wrestling history at the time.  All credit goes to Arturo Holmes without him I would not have won it.  It earned me a full-scholarship and opened up the next opportunity in my life.”


This was honestly just the beginning of his illustrious career in the sport of wrestling. Dustin was a 4-year starter for NC State, qualifying for the NCAA Tournament every year, winning the ACC’s twice, and was the starter for the All-2000’s NC State Team. What’s most special to Dustin though is not his personal attributes, but what he was able to do for so many others as a coach. In 2004 Dustin started The Wrestling Academy for wrestling in Gwinnett County with an influx of young athletes coming to gain knowledge. He would go on to coach nearly 200 GHSA State Champions over that time period. Not to mention, around 26 National Champions ranging from Fargo, Super 32, and NHSCA’s. He coached Georgia’s first ever Super 32 National Champion which is basically an NCAA Title for High School. Following, was maybe one of the most eventful moments for GA Wrestling when we got to wrestle the USA Dream Team in the annual Dream Team Classic. Dustin was the one heading the team into that dual with a large number of the kids coming from his club. A great note from his coaching career is that he ended up with around 40 NCAA Qualifiers, 5 different NCAA All-Americans, and 125-150 committed wrestlers ending up in collegiate programs. The last of those are Dustin’s favorite accomplishments as he quotes, “I think the best accomplishment of my coaching career was changing the mindset and culture of Georgia wrestling. In 2004, there were maybe 1-2 kids a year who could compete nationally. and would go off to college to wrestle. Today dozens of kids per year are now getting an opportunity and most importantly have the mindset that is it a possibility.” Dustin is currently retired from coaching, but he still makes his mark on the community as the founder and CEO of Takedown Sportswear Inc.


Dustin Kawa

High School: Shiloh High School

College: North Carolina State 


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