Breaking news! 4x NCAA Champion Kyle Dake has withdrawn from Final X: Rutgers with an unbeknownst injury that required surgery. Per KD4's instagram account, Dake requested for a delayed wrestle-off with Alex Dieringer for the 79kg spot on the World Team. A living legend from New York, everyone is pushing for a speedy recovery for the Lansing native.
This really puts a damper into the Final X:Rutgers lineup. Thirteen bouts are scheduled to take place this weekend. Below is the lineup:
Bout 1: Men’s GR 87 kg – Joe Rau (Titan Mercury WC/Chicago RTC) vs. Ben Provisor (New York AC/Nittany Lion WC)
Bout 2: Women’s FS 72 kg – Alyvia Fiske (Titan Mercury WC) vs. Victoria Francis (Titan Mercury WC)
Bout 3: Men’s GR 82 kg – Kendrick Sanders (New York AC) vs. John Stefanowicz (U.S. Marine Corps)
Bout 4: Men’s GR 55 kg – Max Nowry (U.S. Army WCAP) vs. Brady Koontz (Ohio RTC)
Bout 5: Men’s GR 67 kg – Ellis Coleman (U.S. Army WCAP) vs. Jamel Johnson (U.S. Marine Corps)
Bout 6: Women’s FS 57 kg – Becka Leathers (Titan Mercury WC/Tar Heel RTC) vs. Jenna Burkert (U.S. Army WCAP)
Bout 1: Women’s FS 65 kg – Forrest Molinari (Titan Mercury WC/Hawkeye WC) vs. Maya Nelson (Sunkist Kids/OTC)
Bout 2: Men’s GR 77 kg – Kamal Bey (Sunkist Kids/OTC) vs. Pat Smith (Minnesota Storm)
Bout 3: Women’s FS 68 kg – Tamyra Mensah-Stock (Titan Mercury WC/OTC) vs. Alexandria Glaude (Titan Mercury WC/McKendree Bearcat WC)
Bout 4: Women’s FS 50 kg – Whitney Conder (U.S. Army WCAP) vs. Victoria Anthony (Sunkist Kids)
Bout 5: Men’s FS 125 kg – Nick Gwiazdowski (Titan Mercury WC/Wolfpack RTC) vs. Gable Steveson (Minnesota RTC)
Bout 6: Men’s FS 65 kg – Yianni Diakomihalis (Titan Mercury WC/Finger Lakes RTC) vs. Zain Retherford (Nittany Lion WC)
Bout 7: Men’s FS 92 kg – J’den Cox (Titan Mercury WC/OTC) vs. Bo Nickal (Nittany Lion WC)
As session two comes to a close on Saturday evening, all of New York and its wrestling fans will be paying close attention to bouts 5 and 6. Duanesburg native and 2x NYS Champion, 2x NCAA Champion Nick Gwiazdowski heads into his 125kg bout against freshman sensation Gable Stevenson of Minnesota RTC. Many lean towards Gwiz to use his size and freestyle experience to gain the upper edge on Gable. The age and experience may be a huge factor as Gwiz is already 2 years removed from college while Stevenson is wrapping up his freshman campaign.
A valid argument can be made that the Yianni/Zain bout should be the main event Saturday evening. The highly anticipated rematch between these two giants is definitely worth the price of admission. Yianni, a 4x NYS Champion from powerhouse Hilton, is a 2x NCAA Champion and has won nearly every competition he has entered with most recently upending World #1 Bajrang Punia at Beat The Streets. The Cornell Sophomore is continuing to strive to be the best, even perfect in his own words. That interview can be seen at Flowrestling.com. Zain Retherford comes into the 65kg bout with something to prove as he was defeated by Yianni at the 2019 US Open. Retherford is a 3x NCAA Champion and most likely the biggest juggernaut for Yianni to overcome. His heavy hands and great positioning could pose an issue. It is hard to tell how this one will play out, low scoring chess match or high scoring slug fest?