LAS VEGAS — Yianni Diakomihalis has won at every level. After winning two Cadet world titles, five state titles and two NCAA championships in two tries, the 20-year-old Cornell sophomore can now add a U.S. Open title to his growing list of wrestling accomplishments.
On Saturday, Diakomihalis came through to win the U.S. Open title at 65 kilograms, beating 2017 World Team member Zain Retherford 6-4 in the finals. On Friday, he topped Olympic fifth-place finisher Frank Molinaro in the quarterfinals and returning U.S. Open champion Jordan Oliver in the semifinals.
By winning the U.S. Open title, Diakomihalis now advances to Final X in June where he will await the winner of next month’s U.S. World Team Trials Challenge Tournament.
In the finals, Retherford, a three-time NCAA champion for Penn State, went up 4-2 in the second period, but Diakomihalis came back with a takedown in the final minute to grab a criteria lead. He would add a late takedown to win by two.
Diakomihalis was not the only 2019 NCAA champion to win a U.S. Open title on Saturday.
Bo Nickal, this year’s Hodge Trophy winner and InterMat Wrestler of the Year, was dominant en route to claiming the title at 92 kilograms. In the finals, Nickal cruised to a 13-3 technical fall over Hayden Zillmer. Zillmer scored first off an exposure to grab a 2-0 lead, but it was all Nickal the rest of the way as he showcased his skills in both neutral and par terre on his way to the technical fall.
Isaiah Martinez and Adam Coon repeated as U.S. Open champions in freestyle, while Kyven Gadson won his second U.S. Open title in three years.
Martinez, a four-time NCAA finalist and two-time NCAA champion, defeated Tommy Gantt 6-4 in the finals at 74 kilograms. The former University of Illinois star led 3-0 at the break after a takedown and step out. Martinez built his lead to 6-0 in the second period after an exposure and step out. In the closing seconds, Gantt threw Martinez to his back for four points before time ran out.
Coon, a returning world silver medalist in Greco-Roman, repeated as U.S. Open champion at 125 kilograms with a 5-2 win over Tony Nelson in the finals. Nelson led at the break, but Coon battled back, scoring a go-ahead with just under a minute remaining before adding a late exposure to win by three.
Gadson registered a 5-0 shutout victory in the 97-kilogram finals over Ben Honis. The former Cyclone NCAA champion scored a takedown and added a point off the shot clock to take a 3-0 lead at the break. He added another takedown in the second period.
Past Junior world silver medalist Pat Downey controlled Nick Heflin from start to finish to claim his first U.S. Open title at 86 kilograms. Downey led 2-0 and extended his lead to 6-3 before breaking open the match with a four-point throw. He took the victory 10-4.
Alex Dieringer rolled to the title at 79 kilograms with a first-period 11-0 technical fall over Chance Marsteller in the finals. Dieringer scored his first two points off a head pinch and then added another takedown before transitioning to a gut wrench, which he used to rack up six more points and claim a technical fall in just over a minute. He did not a surrender a point in the tournament.
Two past world medalists, Thomas Gilman and James Green, fell short in the U.S. Open finals. Both lost to 2017 Junior world medalists.
Daton Fix won a hard-fought battle over Gilman to claim the title at 57 kilograms. It was a rematch of last year’s Final X matchup won by Gilman. Fix, a 2017 Junior world champion, led 2-0 at the break after scoring with two step outs, but Gilman battled back and eventually took a 4-4 criteria lead with under a minute remaining. Fix scored a takedown in the final 30 seconds to retake the lead and added another takedown in the closing seconds to win 8-4.
Ryan Deakin, a 2017 Junior world silver medalist, punched his ticket to Final X with a come-from-behind victory over two-time world medalist James Green at 70 kilograms. Green grabbed a 6-3 lead midway through the third period. But Deakin continued to battle and cut the deficit to 6-5 late before scoring a takedown with two seconds remaining to steal the match late.
Cody Brewer came from behind to earn a fall over top-seeded Nico Megaludis in the finals at 61 kilograms. Megaludis seemed to be in control after building a 3-0 lead early in the second period. But Brewer was able to throw Megalduis to his back and secure a fall 32 seconds into the second period.
57 kilograms: Daton Fix dec. Thomas Gilman, 8-4
61 kilograms: Cody Brewer pinned Nico Megaludis, 3:32
65 kilograms: Yianni Diakomihalis dec. Zain Retherford, 6-4
70 kilograms: Ryan Deakin dec. James Green, 8-6
74 kilograms: Isaiah Martinez dec. Tommy Gantt, 6-4
79 kilograms: Alex Dieringer tech. fall Chance Marsteller, 11-0
86 kilograms: Pat Downey dec. Nick Heflin, 10-4
92 kilograms: Bo Nickal tech. fall Hayden Zilmer, 13-3
97 kilograms: Kyven Gadson dec. Ben Honis, 5-0
125 kilograms: Adam Coon dec. Tony Nelson, 5-2