Cornell vs University of Northern Iowa
Beginning with the Cornell vs UNI dual, Ben and Matt tuned in just to watch the return of No. 1 Ranked and returning national champion, Cornell’s sophomore Yianni Diakomihalis. Surprisingly, the entire dual ended up being highly competitive and action-packed. This dual is one that doesn’t initially seem like it would be competitive but many of these wrestlers have faced off against each other 2 or 3 times in the past year. Before breaking down individual matches Ben gets slightly sidetracked. Talking about West Gym, UNI’s home arena, Ben discusses the environment small and classic style arenas can create.
Diakomihalis vs Alber
Beginning with Yianni Diakomihalis vs No. 10 ranked Josh Alber, where the final was a 12-2 major decision in Diakomihalis’s favor. This is Diakomihalis’ first match of the year after suffering a torn ACL at the end of last season. He looked fantastic, not missing a beat with a strong relentless offense. He is dynamic from all three positions and was clearly dominant. Askren and Dernlan went so far to say that if he can stay healthy he could easily be a contender for the 2020 Olympic team at 165 lbs. With past freestyle success, winning a cadet World Title, it’s definitely not out of the question.
Arujau vs Schwarm
Moving on to Vitali Arujau vs Jay Schwarm and the very surprising cut to 125 lbs for Arujau for the first time. Normally there are whispers of a big move like this long before it happens but it seems no one saw this coming. During the off-season, there was actually talk of both Yianni and Vitali Both bumping up a weight but it seems they did quite the opposite. For his first time making the lower weight, he looked completely unfazed. Normally after a big weight cut, you see guys fall off in the second and third periods. Arujau showed no signs of taking his foot off the gas any time during the match. He was continually pushing the pace, eventually ending up with a high scoring, 17-7 victory to give Cornell the lead.
Lujan vs Womack & Dean vs Foster
After giving Cornell some pretty high praises, the 174 lbs matchup between No. 8 ranked Taylor Lujan (UNI) who won by a 14-5 major decision over No. 14 ranked Brandon Womack (Cornell). Ben and Matt both agree that Womack didn’t look great. Lujan put it on him from pretty much every position. After going All-American 2 years ago it seems as if most people have figured out Womack’s game. Lujan didn’t seem to have much trouble defending against his attacks. Moving onto the upset by No. 10 ranked Max Dean (Cornell) who won by a 6-5 decision over No. 7 ranked Drew Foster (UNI). Dean isn’t a flashy or spectacular wrestler but he is a grinder. He doesn’t go for big moves but he is hard to attack and his shots are hard to defend against once he gets in. To Foster’s credit though he had two early and very quick takedowns and nearly caught Dean for another in the last few moments of the match.
Nebraska vs NC State & UNC
Before moving into Nebraska, Ben brings up his alma mater whose starting lineup is almost entirely homegrown. With 8 or 9 wrestlers from Missouri in the starting lineup, depending on who they decide to start at 184lbs and 197lbs. There really isn’t another school who can claim anything close to a homegrown team like Missouri. Finally, moving into NC State vs Nebraska and UNC vs Nebraska. Besides Tyler Berger, it seems Nebraska is really struggling this year. Taylor Venz adds two more losses to his record. Venz hasn’t looked right all year. While he has found ways to win with last-minute points, he looked more solid as a freshman. Chad Red Jr. is another who seems to be struggling, losing to A.C. Headlee of UNC. Matt has been the one for the past few weeks showing some restraint and caution but at this point, it seems fair to say that there may be some problems at Nebraska. With a lineup that has performed well and been on podiums in the past, they haven’t seemed to hit their stride this year.
Discussions close with Hayden Hidlay of NC State, who after a big freshman year seems to be in what some call the sophomore slump. With 20 of the best minds in wrestling reviewing film and trying to figure out how to beat him it’s understandable, but is that truly a slump? Matt disagrees, he sees a slump as a wrestler taking a step off the gas and underperforming and that isn’t what has happened to Hidlay. He needs to adapt his style to get to the positions where he is superior because anyone who is near him in the rankings is fully expecting what he is bringing to the match.
Where to find the RUDIS Wrestling Podcast:
The RUDIS Wrestling Podcast is hosted by Ben Askren and Matt Dernlan. Ben Askren, World Champion, and Olympic wrestler joins RUDIS from the T-Row & Funky Show in an official partnership as a content provider for all things RUDIS. Matt Dernlan joins from a D1 college coaching background with family roots grounded in Ohio wrestling with a collective 10 state titles on the shelf.