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Yianni brings high standards and Cornell pride to Final X New York

by Ellen Paddock, USA Wrestling

Diakomihalis at the Final X New York press conference. Photo by Justin Hoch
The time is almost here.
It is the eve of Final X New York, presented by Tezos, and wrestling fans have gathered in the Big Apple for one of the most anticipated events of the year. The stage is set in Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden where the nation’s best will wrestle to earn their trip to the World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia (Sept. 10-18).
In a press conference this afternoon, Yianni Diakomihalis shared how his standards have shifted. In the past, Yianni looked forward to making the team, but now, he is dialed in on the big picture.
“I’m not looking past that (making the World Team) ...I didn't have the World Championships that I wanted. So, I think now my standards have changed a little bit and there’s a certain amount of skill and wrestling output that I expect from myself,” Diakomihalis said.
To meet these new expectations for himself, Yianni has made adjustments that he will be able to put into action tomorrow in his home state.
“I had to make a lot of improvements with my wrestling and just my lifestyle the last couple months. I can't be happier with how I feel,” he said. “I feel extremely prepared for this. Having it be so close to my home and being able to have all my teammates, my friends and family here is awesome.”

Diakomihalis explained how the Cornell wrestling room has been a recipe for success– the perfect environment to refine his skills.

“I've got guys younger than me that I'm helping out and they're pushing me because it's like, ‘I'm not letting this young guy get anywhere near me…on the other end, I got Kyle Dake who turns me upside down and puts me in a garbage can. I've got both ends of it,” he said.

Despite three NCAA titles, freestyle is what really gets Yianni excited and his passion for it is unmatched.

“This is the stuff I'm really excited about. I do get excited about the college season, but this is the stuff I love and right now there's one guy keeping me from wrestling in the World Championship. So, I’m putting everything I can into that match and getting ready to do what I have to do.”

Looking ahead at his opponent tomorrow, Evan Henderson, Diakomihalis is expecting a good battle. The key to success? Staying in control.

“He's gonna be hanging on stuff and squeezing stuff real hard. He's gonna be tired but he’s gonna wrestle hard anyway. He's gonna want to fight. He's gonna want it to be kind of an ugly match. And you know, it's up to me to actually go out there and wrestle hard with my stuff,” Diakomihalis said.

Yianni will share the mat tomorrow with fellow Cornellians Kyle Dake and Nick Gwiazdowksi, assistant volunteer at Cornell. Additionally, his teammates Jacob Cardenas (U23) and Vince Cornella (U20) World Team Trials tournament. This winning culture has assured Diakomihalis he is in the right place.

“We got a whole crew out here. Our whole coaching staff is either competing or coaching. We got guys on the age-level world team. The world will be full of Cornell guys this year. You can see our guys are getting better which makes me feel like I am in the right place.”

Two wins for Yianni in the best-of-three series would make him a two-time consecutive World Team member. Yianni, however, is eyeing that World Championship gold medal.

The action tomorrow will be streamed live on