Diakomihalis wrestled the season's final 3 matches with a torn ACL.

Jason Ben Nathan / Sun Senior Photographer

Diakomihalis wrestled the season's final 3 matches with a torn ACL.

March 23, 2018

Wrestling’s Diakomihalis Tore ACL 3 Matches Prior to Winning NCAA Championship

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In the NCAA quarterfinals, eventual national champion Yianni Diakomihalis unknowingly tore his ACL in the match’s first period. The freshman continued the match to defeat two-time national champion Dean Heil of Oklahoma State and eventually won two more on his way to an NCAA title.

“Against Dean Heil, we got in a scramble in the first minute of the match,” Diakomihalis said. “I felt that pop.”

With 20 seconds remaining in the 141 pound national final, Diakomihalis executed a masterful four-point cradle to defeat Wyoming’s Bryce Meredith, 7-4, and win the title.

Diakomihalis wrestled his final three matches of the NCAA Championship with the knee injury. But when the young grappler suffered the injury, there was not much of a concern.

“It was a little loose and I thought it wasn’t a big deal and just had pain,” Diakomihalis said.

Nonetheless, Diakomihalis wrestled through the pain to join Kyle Dake ’13 as the second Cornell freshman to win a national championship, also at 141 pounds.

“[It was just] a good mentality and the confidence that I’d be able to win the matches,” Diakomihalis said.

Diakomihalis said he will undergo surgery next week and expects recovery to take six to seven months.

Dylan McDevitt ’19 contributed reporting to this story.