Diakomihalis, Dean Head To Finals, Big Red Moves To Sixth
March 22, 2019


PITTSBURGH, Pa. -- For the second straight year, Yianni Diakomihalis will be center stage at the national championship at 141 pounds, but this time he'll have some company. Diakomihalis and classmate Max Dean will wrestle for national titles on Saturday night and lead a parade of four All-Americans into PPG Paints Arena at the 2019 NCAA Wrestling Championship. Cornell sits sixth in the team race entering the final day with 52 points, just two behind fifth-place Missouri.

On a night where Diakomihalis clinched a chance to become just the fifth multiple-time NCAA champion in Cornell history, it was his fellow sophomore that stole the show. Dean used a takedown with 10 seconds to wrestle and a mat return to knock off top-seeded Myles Martin of Ohio State at 184 pounds, putting him into his first national final. A Dean in a Big Red singlet will now be in the finals at 184 pounds for the fourth time in five seasons, with his brother and current assistant coach Gabe a three-time finalist and two-time champion. Dean avenged two regular season losses to Martin, who outscored him 30-13 in two previous matches this year. Dean will get a familiar foe in the finals - Northern Iowa's Drew Foster. The two have met four times with Dean holding a 3-1 advantage, including a 6-5 victory by the Big Red grappler in a mid-December dual in Iowa.

Diakomihalis also had a memorable match, earning a 6-5 victory over Jaydin Eierman of Missouri in the semifinals for the second consecutive year to reach the championship. The only wrestler to beat Diakomihalis dating back to his freshman year in high school, Eierman had the match tied at 4-4 before the Big Red sophomore caught an ankle and earned the go-ahead takedown with under 30 seconds remaining when Eierman remained in danger after a count for an technical takedown. Eierman escaped as time expired, but it was too little, too late.

Freshman Vitali Arujau and senior Ben Honis both became first-time All-Americans with wins in the blood round. Arujau captured a dominant 11-3 major decision over N.C. State's Sean Fausz, then took down No. 4 Ronnie Bresser of Oregon State 8-5 on the strength of a four-point move in the third period and more than two minutes of accumulated riding time. He'll do no worse than sixth place and could finish as high as third depending on the result of his consolation semifinal against second-seeded Nick Piccininni of Oklahoma State.

Honis took a different path after losing his first match, going 4-0 in the back draw to battle back to a spot on the podium. The senior built a 6-1 lead over Cal Poly's Thomas Lane and held on for an 8-5 victory. Though he dropped his second match of the session, a 7-5 decision against Iowa State's Willie Miklus, he will wrestle for seventh place against No. 5 Jacob Warner of Iowa on Saturday morning.

After going 5-1 during the session, Cornell jumped from 10th to sixth in the team standings and qualified a finalist for the 12th consecutive year. At least three Cornellians have reached the podium for 17 consecutive years.