Julia Nagel/Sun Photography Editor

Cornell Class of 2028 commits join wrestling at the Mat Town Open.

November 27, 2023

Six Cornell Wrestlers Take First at Mat Town Open

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After winning its first dual meet as a team against Sacred Heart, wrestling (1-0, 1-0 EIWA) competed at the Mat Town Open on Sunday at Lock Haven University. Because it was an individual tournament, multiple Cornell wrestlers who do not typically start in team competitions were able to enter.

The Red entered in eight of the 10 weight classes, facing off against athletes from other colleges. There were also several Cornell commits representing the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club, a regional training center. These athletes are recent high school grads taking a year off to train before joining the Red next season. 

At 125 pounds, junior Greg Diakomihalis was dominant in his matches. A five-time New York State Champion in high school, Diakomihalis missed the entirety of last season due to injury, losing his spot in the dual meet line up to No. 11 sophomore Brett Ungar in the process.

Given the opportunity to prove himself at Mat Town, Diakomihalis breezed through Cornell commit Matt Dougherty and Lehigh’s Ethan Smith in the first two rounds, before pinning Binghamton’s Carson Wagner to win his weight. 

At 149 pounds, four Cornell athletes entered, with junior Josh Saunders defeating junior Ethan Fernandez in the final. Both wrestlers took down their opponents in the early rounds before facing off against Cornell grapplers in the semis, with Saunders winning by decision over sophomore Nate Wade. Fernandez defeated junior Cole Handlovic, also by decision.

The final was a hard fought match, which Saunders ultimately won, 4-1. For Saunders, who has had few opportunities to compete in his time at Cornell, this was an immense win. Both of his opponents have had significantly more experience in the Red’s lineup.

In the 184 pound division, No. 4 senior Chris Foca took to the mat, and continued what has been a dominant campaign so far. After starting his day off with a 15-0 technical fall victory over Cael Black of Lock Haven, Foca pinned Cornell commit Carson Crace in only 29 seconds. He wrapped up his tournament with another 15-0 victory against Mountainhawk Jack Wilt. Throughout the tournament, Foca once again showed no signs of difficulty with his move up in weight class, looking just as comfortable at 184 as he did at 174 last season. 

At 197, Cornell athletes shared the title, with No. 6 senior Jacob Cardenas and freshman Eric Carlson each winning two matches before agreeing to a no-contest in the final. In the first round, Cardenas faced a tough test in the form of future Cornell wrestler Michael Dellagatta, who he defeated 2-0. He went on to beat Penn State’s Eric Cochran 13-6 in the second.

Carlson, meanwhile, earned a major decision over Cayden Bevis of Binghamton, before earning a 29-second pin of his own in the second. 

Due to only seven wrestlers entering and a medical forfeit for the heavyweight division, No. 21 senior Lewis Fernandes only needed one victory to be crowned champion. Following a first round bye, Fernandes defeated unattached wrestler Ethan Miller 15-0, and when his opponent for the finals couldn’t compete due to injury, he took home the gold.

Strong performances by Cornell commits shone a positive light on the team’s future. Two Finger Lakes Wrestling competitors, Simon Ruiz and Tyler Ferrara, won their brackets, both picking up wins against current Cornell athletes. Roberto Padilla came in second at 165 and Dellagatta put in some great performances after falling to Cardenas, finishing fourth.

Ferrara was particularly impressive, taking down freshman Ethan Qureshi in a competitive 4-1 match in the 133 pound finals. Each of these athletes made a strong impression as they prepare to fight for spots in next year’s lineup.

Cornell’s top wrestlers will compete for individual and team titles at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational on Saturday, Dec. 2. The tournament will take place across the entire day and can be streamed live on FloWrestling.