Heading into Saturday's match against Wisconsin's Austin Gomez, Cornell's three-time NCAA champion Yianni Diakomihalis had just one career L: an early-season 9-6 decision against NCAA finalist Jaydin Eierman back in 2017 that didn't go his way. But, in a decisive 9-3 decision in Ithaca, New York this weekend, Gomez delivered the senior Big Red star just his second career loss, ending Diakomihalis' hopes for an undefeated season.
Here's how it happened:
This was a match these guys have been looking forward to for a long time. For Gomez, the match represented his chance against the champ and an opportunity for redemption after a season-opening loss to Iowa State. For Diakomihalis, it was a chance to start the season with a highly-ranked win. The focus from both athletes was evident as they battled through two scoreless minutes in the first period in front of a sold out crowd in Ithaca. Diakomihalis nearly put himself on the board first with a single-leg in the final minute of the period, but Gomez fended him off. The Big Red senior drove the pace early in this match, though credit belongs to Gomez for remaining unfazed by these attacks. A third shot from Diakomihalis in the first period drew a stall call, but Gomez responded, initiating a scramble that almost took down the champ in the final seconds. The two athletes entered the second period scoreless.
149: He woke up feeling dangerous! @agomez_149 wins! 9-3 decision over the 3X NCAA Champ!— Wisconsin Wrestling (@BadgerWrestling) November 19, 2022
Gomez chose down to start the period, and he had to be gaining confidence here in this match as he avoided giving up any points and was on the board first after an early escape. With riding time for Diakomihalis just under 30 seconds, the two wrestlers went to work on their feet. Gomez initiated a throw and got Diakomihalis on the mat, securing back points. That was nearly a close call for Diakomihalis. Gomez absolutely had him in a bad position. This is the Gomez that Badger wrestling fans expected to see against Iowa State. The refs review the four-point move, and the call was confirmed. Gomez took a 5-0 lead going into the third period.
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Diakomihalis chose down to start the third period. He needed something big. This cannot be the way Diakomihalis expected this match to go. The Cornell senior escaped early to start the third, making the score 5-1 with 1:40 to go. Gomez continued, notching another takedown. Diakomihalis finished second at the 2022 senior world championships in freestyle, but he was trailing Wisconsin's All-American Austin Gomez with 90 seconds to go. Diakomihalis earned the escape to trail 7-2 with 60 seconds to go. Diakomihalis goes for a duck-under, but Gomez counters for two more. Escape Diakomihalis. Blood time. Gomez led 9-3 with 20 seconds to go. That's the match. The champ goes down.
Diakomihalis' quest for a fourth title certainly is far from over, though Gomez just made this weight class a whole lot more interesting. It's that time of year. Nothing is predictable.