Courtesy of the Diakomihalis Family
Yianni Diakomihalis has worn red headgear with a Cornell "C" on the mat at times over the past few years. The Hilton star, already a two-time undefeated state champion going into his sophomore campaign, has also spent plenty of time in Ithaca, mixing it up at the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club.
And now it's clear that Diakomihalis, an excellent student, will continue to have a strong presence at the Friedman Wrestling Center in the future as the #2 ranked wrestler in the nation at 120 pounds, gave his verbal commitment to the Big Red on Sunday night. Diakomihalis, a top-5 wrestler nationally in the Class of 2017, has an incredibly lengthy list of achievements.
Here's a small sampling: Diakomihalis captured his third straight Super 32 title last weekend (the first was at the Middle School level), while also winning the FloNationals in 2014 and taking second (while wrestling up a weight) at Fargo in his first-ever national Freestyle event.
"Cornell is where his heart is and it's close to home, which is important to him," said his mother, Gina Diakomihalis. "Yianni is happy to feel so confident in his future plans to wrestle and get an amazing education. We couldn't be more happy or proud of him."
New York Wrestling News interviewed Yianni Diakomihalis on Sunday while at the Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open:
New York Wrestling News (NYWN): You’ve been here watching the Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open for most of the day. Do you want to grab some headgear and get out there?
Yianni Diakomihalis (YD): I’d love to. This is one of the best college tournament experiences I’ve had. It’s such a cool environment. Getting to be matside - it’s awesome. I love it. Watching wrestling on TV, you lose some of the subtle things. When you watch it right in front of you, you see the hand fighting and the little adjustments that are made and it’s really cool to watch in person and pick up on all of that. I also get to watch [Binghamton freshmen] Vincent and Anthony DePrez here. They’re almost family to me and to see them wrestle at that next level, is awesome. It’s great to be here supporting them and seeing them do so well.
NYWN: Recently, you won the Super 32 for the third straight year. The first time, in 2012, you beat Oklahoma’s Daton Fix for a Middle School championship. You beat him again for the 120 crown last week. Did that previous meeting help you this time?
YD: I was familiar with him. I guess I knew what to expect, but he’s very, very good. Some might have argued he was the best in the country at the time. It was good I had wrestled him and understood what I was getting into. With some familiarity, I was able to skip the stage of feeling things out and get right into what I needed to do to win the match.
NYWN: Did you watch Daton Fix’s marathon match with Nick Suriano a few weeks ago?
YD: Yes, 100%. I watched it live. I was going crazy, jumping around, screaming and yelling. That was a great match - so exciting.
NYWN: Some have argued that you should be at #1 in the nation at 120 now. What do you think when you see those debates?
YD: People can argue that. But you can easily argue that Nick Suriano or some other guys are too. I won’t make any claims. It doesn’t matter. I’ll just wrestle. Other people can talk about that.
NYWN: Let’s talk for a second about the Journeymen Classic. You beat some nationally-ranked guys like Jack Mueller and Cameron Sykora, but lost your first match in quite some time, to Alex Mackall, after giving up an early five-point move. What did you take away from that experience?
YD: It was a bit of an eye opener. It showed me some things I need to work on. I mean, I knew I had a lot of things to work on. But it was obvious that I needed to work on my defense and keep better position in that match - he was a little bit bigger than me and showed me what I need to tighten up on. I was frustrated about taking a loss, but you need to have a one track mind. When you’re there to wrestle, you can’t let things get in your head. Every match is a new match and I didn’t let the old ones get stuck in my head.
NYWN: You went to Fargo for the first time this year and took second at 120 in Cadet Freestyle. What some people may not know is that you were intending to go 113 and missed weight by 0.4 pounds. How were you able to navigate one of the toughest tournaments giving up significant weight?
YD: First of all, that’s something you can’t do. That’s a very cowardly thing to do, in my opinion, missing weight. At the time, I felt really stupid. But it’s the same thing as taking a loss. It happened and I just needed to deal with it. I definitely had to make some adjustments. I do some weird, goofy stuff and I knew it couldn’t work for two reasons. One, those guys were bigger. Two, it’s freestyle so I have to keep much better position. So, I had to play around with my style a little bit. I had to work in some more low singles; keep guys away from me. But that was then. Now, I’ve gotten bigger and I can go back to what I was doing before.
NYWN: So in the end, were you satisfied with the way Fargo went?
YD: I wouldn’t say it was a bad week, I guess. I don’t know, it could’ve been better. There are some things I should have done differently. So it wasn’t bad; it wasn’t good either.
NYWN: For a while, it seemed that you and [Syosset state champ] Vito Arujau (who took third in that Cadet Freestyle bracket) might be on a collision course at Fargo. [Diakomihalis beat Arujau in the ultimate tiebreaker for the New York State title in 2013 at 99 pounds when both were eighth graders]. How did the two of you become frequent workout partners even though you live far apart?
YD: We live about a six hour drive from each other. I think after the Journeymen Classic last year, Vito’s dad talked to my dad about training together. We went down there and really liked it. It was a lot of fun and the wrestling was great. I got to work out with Vito and [nationally-ranked] Peter Pappas and so many good Long Island wrestlers. We became friends and now we train together whenever we can. I’ve probably been down there five or six times and he’s come up to my house a few times. So, we’ve gone back and forth and I’d love to keep doing it. We also have met up at Cornell a bunch of times for Finger Lakes practice. Sometimes, it’s easier to meet up in the middle and for me it’s always good to be around Cornell.
NYWN: I know you’ve done training at the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club and you've worn the Cornell headgear. Is Cornell still a top option for you for college?
YD: I’d love to go there, it’s where I really want to be. It’s a great school and the team is awesome. I have to get it done – keep improving in wrestling and keep my grades where they are. But, yes, Cornell is where I want to be. [Diakomihalis informed us that he made his verbal commitment to the coaching staff later in the day].
NYWN: What goals have you set for the season?
YD: I’m looking to win another state title. We’re going to Eastern States this year, which is another good tournament for me to build on. I plan to go to FloNationals and Fargo and I’m thinking of going to FILA Cadet Nationals to see if I can make a Freeetyle world team. To keep getting better, you have to go to the big tournaments. I’ve got big things planned.
That’s true for this year … and down the road for the future Big Red wrestler. Congratulations to Yianni and his family on his commitment.
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