No. 5 wrestling (12-2, 8-0 EIWA) took on Binghamton (4-12, 3-5 EIWA) on Friday in a special matchup for senior Yianni Diakomihalis. A three-time NCAA champion and 2022 world silver medalist, Diakomihalis wrestled one of the final matches of his collegiate career in what was once his high school gym.
Although the night was centered around Diakomihalis, the Red was still focused on winning its meet. After starting off slow with a decision loss at 125, Cornell went on a tear.
No. 3 junior Vito Arujau led the charge with a 19-4 technical fall win at 133 pounds. Sophomore Ethan Fernandez, who has spent much of the year as Arujau’s backup, scrapped out a tight decision, 3-2, at the unfamiliar weight of 141, giving the Red an 8-3 lead. Missing four of its usual starters, big performances from less experienced wrestlers were very important on the night.
“We had a lot of guys that are non-traditional starters that wrestled well,” said head coach Michael Grey ’11. “They all fought hard and really represented our program the way that we want them to.”
After gaining an opening lead, it was Diakomihalis’s turn to step up. As a wrestler at Hilton High School, Diakomihalis won four straight state championships, and a sold-out crowd of 1,500 strong was ready to watch him wrestle at home once again.
After dominating early in the match with six quick points, Diakomihalis gave the people what they wanted. He gained control of his opponent, Michael Zarif, before quickly executing a pin that ended the match 2:22 into the first round, netting the Red an important six points.
“It was good for Yianni to wrestle one last time up there in Rochester,” Grey said. “Definitely the biggest crowd they’ve ever had in that gym.”
With Diakomihalis bringing the overall score to 14-3, the Red was cruising to victory. Although the team only won three of the last six matches, all three were dominant extra point decisions.
Sophomore Cole Handlovic won a 13-0 major decision at 157 that was almost a technical fall, before No. 4 junior Chris Foca clinched the Red’s overall win with a major decision victory of his own at 174.
No. 4 junior Jacob Cardenas gave Cornell its last win of the night at 197 with a fall, pinning his opponent even faster than Diakomihalis, and the Red took the meet, 28-15, ending its EIWA season undefeated.
Cornell will have another major test when it takes on No. 5 Ohio State (12-3, 6-2 Big Ten) in its final regular season meet on Friday, Feb. 18 at 1 p.m. in Tampa, Florida.
Nate Krackeler is a Sun Contributing Writer. He can be reached at [email protected].