photo courtesy of Richard Immel
On Labor Day from Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, only 85 days after the start of the 65 kg Final X series between Zain Retherford and Yianni Diakomihalis began, the world team spot was decided. Retherford will make his second trip to the World Championships after a 2-1 win over Diakomihalis. A packed house was on hand to cheer their two favorites, neither of which had to travel far for the wrestle-off. The spectators only had one match to watch as Retherford took the first match (second in the series).
Zain was able to get to Yianni’s legs frequently throughout the match and was stalemated by the defensive wizardry of the Cornell national champion. Retherford’s only scoring came via exposure off of a shot by Diakomihalis. The lone point for Yianni came after a failed challenge by the Nittany Lion WC corner. Early in the match, Zain got in on a low double and Yianni attempted to tilt him for exposure points. Neither was awarded anything, but Retherford’s coaches threw the challenge brick.
Challenges were not new to this series, as it was delayed after Yianni’s head coach at Cornell, Rob Koll, protested the second match in the June 8th Final X wrestle-off between the two. An independent arbitrator threw out the result of that second match and determined that the series would be rewrestled with Retherford starting with a one-match-to-none lead due to incorrect procedures in the challenge process.
There will be a quick turnaround for Zain as the World Championships will start Saturday, September 15th, with the 65 kg men’s freestyle weight class getting underway on the 19th.