Julia Nagel/Sun Photography Editor

Senior Yianni Diakomihalis is looking to become the fifth wrestler in NCAA History to win four national championships.

March 14, 2023

PREVIEW: Wrestling Prepares for Nationals in Oklahoma

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Seven wrestlers qualified for nationals at the EIWA championships and will look to take home individual titles this weekend in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Red also has its sights set on a top 10 team finish — a feat it has accomplished the past 14 seasons. Each wrestler faces a unique challenge in their respective weight bracket and will have differing expectations overall. 

At 125 pounds, freshman Brett Ungar will make his first career tournament appearance. After finishing with a 14-10 record and losing in the EIWA finals, Ungar received the No. 15 seed and will face a tough draw. 

His first round opponent, Penn’s Ryan Miller, defeated Ungar in their dual meet matchup earlier this season. If he is able to best Miller, Ungar will more than likely have to face the No. 2 seed, Princeton’s Patrick Glory. Glory is 20-0 on the season and beat Ungar in the EIWA championship match. 

Ungar is likely to enter wrestlebacks early and will be looking to fight for a spot on the eight man podium. Considering Ungar started the season having to fight for the starting spot at the lightest weight class, a top finish at nationals would be an excellent start to his career.

Junior Vito Arujau, Cornell’s 133 pound representative, is no stranger to the big stage. He was the No. 2 in last year’s 125 pound tournament, and after jumping up a division this year, is seeded third, having finished his stellar season with an EIWA championship trophy. 

Arujau is likely to cruise through the earlier rounds and is a serious contender for the championship. His main competition at the weight comes in the form of No. 2 seed Daton Fix of Oklahoma State and No. 1 seed Roman Bravo-Young of Penn State. 

Both wrestlers are coming off undefeated seasons and have faced off in the last two 133 pound finals, with Bravo-Young taking the trophy in both cases. Neither had to deal with anyone as competitive as Arujau last season, who will look to shake up the bracket.

At 141, freshman Vince Cornella enters his first nationals as the No. 7 seed following an excellent season. He went 19-4, with all four losses coming to ranked opponents, and won an EIWA title. 

If he is able to defeat Rider’s McKenzie Bell in round one, Cornella will likely run into Lachlan McNeil of North Carolina, who handed him one of his losses this year. With Northern Colorado’s Andrew Alirez — who finished 23-0 — also on Cornella’s side of the bracket, the freshman has a tough path to a spot on the podium. However, with bonus point wins over multiple ranked wrestlers on the year, Cornella is more than capable of making a run. 

While the Red’s other athletes are fighting for national trophies, senior Yianni Diakomihalis is competing to be part of a legendary group of wrestlers. The three-time national champion is the No. 1 seed at 149 and is looking to become the fifth wrestler in NCAA history to win four national championships, a list which includes Olympic bronze medalist Kyle Dake ’11. 

He will face off against a tough field, including No. 2 seed Sammy Sasso of Ohio State and No. 4 seeded Austin Gomez of Wisconsin, who handed Diakomihalis the second loss of his illustrious career earlier this season. Despite the competition, the athlete most likely to prevent Diakomihalis from becoming the fifth four-time champion is Iowa’s Spencer Lee, who will be going for his fourth trophy at 125, in a final which will take place before 149. 

At 165 pounds, Cornell is riding the hot hand. No. 4 seed sophomore Julian Ramirez finished the season off strong, winning two huge matchups over Quincy Monday of Princeton, last year’s national finalist at 157. 

A successful run for Ramirez will likely involve facing Monday once again, before setting up a matchup with David Carr of Iowa State. Carr has looked unbeatable all year, twice taking down last year’s national champion, Missouri’s No. 2 seed Keegan O’Toole, in dominant fashion. Ramirez will likely be competing for a top three finish at this year’s tournament, and with Carr graduating at the end of the season, will be looking to gain experience for a championship run next year.

At 174, junior Chris Foca also claimed the No. 4 seed off the back of a breakout season. At 24-1, Foca wrestled and won many times all year, with his only loss coming to this year’s No. 3 seed, Mekhi Lewis of Virginia Tech. 

Also featuring Carter Starocci of Penn State and Nebraska’s Mikey Labriola, 174 may be the deepest weight class in the whole field. Although Starocci has looked great all year, any of those four have a legitimate shot to win the whole thing, and the signature “Foca Style” will bring something to the table that none of the others may be comfortable with as he contends for the trophy.

Cornell’s final qualifier is Jacob Cardenas, who is seeded No. 10 at 197 after his EIWA championship victory over Lehigh’s Michael Beard. His first round matchup is Luke Stout of Princeton, who he took down 8-0 during the dual meet series.

If he wins his second round matchup, Cardenas can probably look forward to facing Bernie Truax of Cal Poly, the No. 2 seed. With three elite, veteran wrestlers in the division, Cardenas will likely be looking to contend for a spot on the podium. 

The NCAA wrestling championships are all day from Thursday, March 16 to Saturday, March 18 and can be watched on ESPN and ESPNU.