Yianni Diakomihalis approaches the mat in the finals of the NCAA national championship March 23.

Yianni Diakomihalis ’21 repeats as NCAA champ

PITTSBURGH — Sophomore Yianni Diakomihalis claimed his second national title, classmate Max Dean came tantalizingly close to his first, and Cornell posted a top 10 team finish for the 12th consecutive year as the 2019 NCAA Wrestling Championships concluded March 23 at PPG Paints Arena. The Big Red placed seventh overall, accumulating 59.5 points and crowning four All-Americans during the three-day meet.

The referee raises Yianni Diakomihalis’ hand after he defeated Joey McKenna of Ohio State to win the national championship.

Diakomihalis became the fifth multi-time national champion in program history with another clutch performance on college’s biggest stage. A takedown in the final seconds sent the match to sudden victory where he used a trip for a takedown to knock off No. 2 Joey McKenna of Ohio State. The Big Red sophomore completed his season with a perfect 29-0 record in the 141-pound weight class.

McKenna got on the board first with a takedown in the first 30 seconds to set the tone. Diakomihalis escaped after 20 seconds to make it 2-1, and that was all the scoring in the first three minutes.

McKenna took bottom to start the second and captured his point inside of 15 seconds. Diakomihalis looked to possibly have a takedown and back points to take his first lead, but it wasn’t called on the mat and video review confirmed the call.

That was how the two entered the third, with the Buckeye grappler up 3-1. Diakomihalis went under and got his point 17 seconds into the period to scratch to within 3-2. McKenna got in on a shot after a stalemate with 36 seconds left, but the defending national champion was able to turn defense to offense on the scramble for two points, and the Big Red grappler went up 4-3. McKenna escaped almost simultaneously to send the match to overtime, 4-4. The Buckeye corner challenged the last-second takedown, but the call was confirmed. In sudden victory, Diakomihalis used a trip for the takedown with 15 ticks left on the clock for his second straight national title.

For Cornell, it was the 10th time in the last 12 years at least one wrestler claimed an individual title and the 15th time in the last 17 years the program has finished in the top 10 as a team. Cornell joins Iowa as the only programs to secure top 10 team efforts every year since 2008.

For complete coverage of the tournament, visit cornellbigred.com.

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Gillian Smith