2019 NCAA DIVISION I CHAMPIONSHIP RECAP

NEW YORK WRESTLERS  IN THE

NCAA  TOURNAMENT

2019 NCAA WRESTLING
CHAMPIONSHIPS


By Jim and Tony Nordland
www.thematslap.org

Two-time NCAA Champion

Yianni Diakomihalis from Cornell, now has an impressive 63-1 career mark.



     Penn State won their fourth consecutive title at the 89th annual NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships before 18,950 fans at the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA. The Nittany Lions tallied 137.5 points and crowned three champions amongst their seven All-Americans and captured their eighth NCAA crown in nine years. Winning titles were three-time champions Jason Nolf (31-0, 118-3 career) and Bo Nickal (30-0, 120-3), along with senior Anthony Cassar (30-1) at 285 pounds.The Nolf and Nickal show also had support with two runners-ups and former NCAA winners; Lorenzo Joseph (27-2) at 165 and Mark Hall (30-1). Both Nolf (2-1-1-1) and Nickal (2-1-1-1) finished as four-time All-Americans. Reigning champion Hall dropped a close 4-3 decision to nemesis, two-time champ Zahid Valencia (31-2, 106-3) in the 174-pound final.

     Ohio State (96.5) finished as runners-up and perennial NCAA power Oklahoma State (84) was third. Both squads had multiple finalists along with five wrestlers that earned AA accolades. Iowa sophomore Spencer Lee (24-3, 46-5) earned his second NCAA title and posted a solid 5-0 verdict over previously unbeaten Jack Mueller (21-1) of Virginia in the loaded 125-pound class. Lee grew up about 20 miles from the PPG Paints Arena.

     Cornell had a solid tournament and landed in 7th place (59.5) and emerged with four wrestlers with All-American status. Winning his second NCAA title was poised sophomore Yianni Diakomihalis (29-0, 63-1) who scored with a single-leg kick-out takedown against tough Joey McKenna (Ohio State) and won an exciting 6-4 OT decision at 141 pounds. Diakomihalis was asked: “How do you maintain your composure through these tight and highest-level matches, yet always find ways to score and win?” He replied: “I believe in myself and think willpower is a really strong thing, he also added: “All my coaches train my will to be stronger than anyone else and those overtime gritty takedowns are a battle of willpower.” Diakomihalis now has a 43-match win streak. The Big Red also had finalist Max Dean (25-6) who upset 2016 NCAA champ Myles Martin (25-1,123-17 career), 5-4, in the semi-finals. In the gold medal match he dropped a close 6-4 decision on a late third period single leg takedown to Northern Iowa’s Drew Foster (28-5) at 184. 

     Rutgers had a great showing as the Scarlet Knights crowned their school’s first NCAA champion with Nick Soriano (29-3) winning the 133-pound crown in overtime and a short time later, senior and unbeaten Anthony Ashnault (32-0) coasted to the 149-pound gold medal. The surging Big Ten squad finished in 9th place with 51.5 points and head coach Scott Goodale was named the Division I National Tournament Coach-of-the-Year. 

     

     Also winning an NCAA championship was eighth-seeded redshirt freshman Mekhi Lewis (28-2) who made a tight overhead cradle midway in the second period stand up for a 7-1 decision over defending champion Lorenzo Joseph. Lewis was voted the tournament’s OSW Award and became Virginia Tech’s first-ever NCAA titlist in their school’s program history.

Mat Notes:
     Former four-time NYS champions: Nick Piccininni (Ward Melville) and Vito Arujau (Syosset) battled in the All-American round. Cornell’s Arujau (31-4) defeated Oklahoma State’s Piccininni (34-2), 5-1, after scoring with a pair of hard-fought single leg takedowns and a tight ride. Arujau, a redshirt freshman, finished in 4th place and two-time AA Piccininni, a redshirt junior, finished in 5th place.


    Once again, PA led all states with 16 home-grown All-Americans, followed by NJ (6), including 4 NCAA champs (most likely a record), OH (6), IL (6), NY (5), CA (4) and MO (4). In 1983, the Empire State had three NCAA champions and eight All-Americans; champs were Clar Anderson (Oklahoma State), Ed and Lou Banach (Iowa). At the 2019 NCAA meet, New York State's five All-Americans were: the aforementioned, Arujau, Piccininni, Diakomihalis, Ben Honis (Cornell) and Youssif Hemida (Maryland). Honis (23-7) edged Cal Poly junior Thomas Lane (Garden City), 8-5, in the placing round and finished in 8th place  at 197 and Hemida (21-9) a two-time All-American earned sixth place at 285. Hemida’s coach Kerry McCoy (Longwood HS) will be stepping down after the NCAA Championships, he served as head wrestling coach at the University of Maryland for the past 11 years. McCoy was a former state champion and a two-time NCAA titlist at Penn State.


    Only four wrestlers remained unbeaten on the season: Diakomihalis, Ashnault, Nolf and Nickal. Cael Sanderson was voted the InterMat's Coach-of-the-Year for the sixth time. The combined record of the ten Division I champions was 291 victories and only 16 losses. The total six-session attendance was 109,405 wrestling fans. The 2020 NCAA Division I Championships will be held at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN, which is the site of the 2019 NCAA Final Four and expected to draw about 72,000 spectators. The NCAA wrestling tournament will be held on March 19th – March 21st. 

125- Nick Piccininni

(5th-Okla State-Ward Mel)


125- Vito Arujau

(4th-Cornell-Syosset)


​133- Derek Spann
(DNP-
Buffalo-​​ Adirondack)


141- Yianni Diakomahalis

(1st-Cornell-Hilton)


141- Bryan Lantry
(DNP-
Buffalo-Wayne)


141- Anthony Sparacio
(DNP-
Binghamton-​​N Bab)


149- Parker Kropman
(DNP-
Drexel-​​Penfield)


​157- Alex Smythe
(DNP-Buffalo-​​Eden)


165- Jesse Dellavecchia

(DNP-Rider-East Islip)


165- Troy Keller
(DNP-Buffalo-​​N Tonaw)


174- Vincent DePrez
(DNP-
Binghamton-​​Hilton)


184- Shakur Rasheed

(DNP-Penn State-Longwood)


184- Lou DePrez

(DNP-Binghamton-Hilton)


184- Kevin Parker
(DNP-
Princeton-​​Shen)


197- Ben Honis

(8th-Cornell-James-DeWitt)


197- Tom Lane

(DNP-Cal Poly-GardenCity)


197- Brett Perry
(DNP-
Buffalo-JJ-E Fishkill)


285- Youssif Hemida

(6th-Maryland-Mamaron)