CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — An Okinawa-based Marine has been named the Corps’ top male athlete for 2004, a year in which he won gold medals at the Armed Forces Championship in freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling.

All-Marine Wrestling Team veteran Cpl. Jake Clark, 25, a transportation management specialist here, is ranked second in the United States at 84 kilograms — about 184 pounds.

“I was really surprised when I found out,” said the South St. Paul, Minn., native. “I’d heard of the award but to hear that I was actually named [the Corps’ top athlete], that is a big accomplishment for me. I’m really excited.”

Clark’s brother Joey was on the Marine Corps team before him. Jake Clark said the original plan was for his brother to leave the Marine Corps after four years so the two could wrestle together in college. But Joey re-enlisted — so Jake Clark decided to join his brother instead. “I said, ‘We may not wrestle together in college, then, so let’s do it in the Marine Corps,’” Jake Clark said.

He left a full wrestling scholarship at the University of Minnesota, joining the Marine Corps in 2000.

“A lot of people don’t understand how I can give up a full scholarship to a top program, but the Marine Corps has been good to me,” he said. “The support the Marine Corps and my command has given me for my sport has been amazing. I believe I will wrestle in the next Olympics, and I want to represent the Corps when I do.”

Clark and Female Athlete of the Year Capt. Mary Kate Bailey — a distance runner and assistant inspector assigned to the Inspector General’s Office at Marine Corps Base Quantico — are to receive their awards at the Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame Induction Luncheon Ceremony at MCB Quantico on July 29.

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