College studs Deakin, Fix and Diakomihalis punch tickets to Final X with stunning US Open men's freestyle titles

By Mike Willis, USA Wrestling | April 27, 2019, 6 p.m. (ET)

Photo by John Sachs

LAS VEGAS - The youth movement is in full swing in men’s freestyle. Four wrestlers who were competing in the NCAA Division Championships a month ago claimed US Open Titles this afternoon at the South Point Arena.

Three of those wrestlers, Ryan Deakin, Daton Fix and Yianni Diakomihalis, punched their tickets to Final X.

The fourth, Bo Nickal, earned a bye to the finals of the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament in Raleigh, N.C., next month. J’den Cox already earned the 92 kg Final X bid by taking gold at the 2018 World Championships. The other three weight classes, 70 kg, 57 kg and 65 kg, had no returning medalists.

2017 Junior World silver medalist Ryan Deakin was the first wunderkind to earn a spot in Final X.

He shocked the arena defeating two-time World medalist James Green on a last second takedown to claim an 8-6 victory at 70 kg.

Deakin took sixth at the NCAA Tournament in March and came into the tournament as the No. 10 seed.

Before taking out No 1. James Green, he defeated No. 2 on the Senior National Team ladder Jason Chamberlain by technical fall, 12-3, in the quarterfinals.

“I was staying calm, just trying to keep in my positions, Deakin said. “Not freaking out. Just trying to get to my attacks, keep pushing the pace and good things happen.”

Following Deakin’s lead, Bo Nickal put on a dominant display against multiple-time National Team member Hayden Zillmer in the 92 kg finals.

Nickal dominated the match on his feet with a series of slick takedowns. The 2019 Hodge Trophy winner and three-time NCAA champ ended the match early with a 13-3 technical fall.

Daton Fix was the next young stud to make his mark, defeating 2017 World silver medalist and 2018 World Team member Thomas Gilman at 57 kg.

Fix was the runner-up to Tony Ramos at last year’s U.S. Open. He later avenged that loss and made it to Final X where he dropped two matches, 6-2, and 2-1, to Gilman. Fix used those matches for motivation this time around.

“The last time I wrestled him in a match, it was definitely something I thought about for a long, long time,” Fix said. “I replayed that finals match over and over and thought about what I can do different. I had to get to his legs, and I did that this weekend. I am very capable of getting to his legs and scoring. I knew that.”

The final match of the night featured Yianni Diakomihalis defeating 2017 World Team member Zain Retherford. Yianni was awarded the Outstanding Wrestler award due to the brutal gauntlet he ran through to take the title which included 2016 Olympian Frank Molinaro and top-seeded Jordan Oliver.

In a back-and-forth match Yianni scored a takedown off a scramble to take the lead on criteria, and scored another takedown at the end of the match to take the victory, 6-4.

“A crazy weekend. Lots of highs and lows,” Diakomihalis said. “There’s lots to improve on, but I have more time now. I am in Final X. I get to skip over the Raleigh event and just focus on getting ready for Final X. Things that seem far away in the scheme of life are right in front of you. When I was 17, this tournament may have seemed so far away, but it’s like you blink and you are in the finals with Zain.”

Leading off the action at 97 kg was freestyle veteran Kyven Gadson, winning a dominant 5-0 decision and claiming his second-straight U.S. Open title over surprise finalist Benjamin Honis, a 2019 NCAA All-American.

Honis defeated 2017 U23 bronze medalist and current National Team member Ty Walz, 11-3, in the semifinals, but Gadson’s freestyle skills and savvy proved to be too much for the recently graduated Honis.

At 86 kg, Pat Downey and Nick Heflin followed the opening match.

After a scoreless first period, Downey took a 1-0 lead off a step-out point into the break. The second period provided a lot more action, highlighted by a beautiful Downey four-point throw on the edge of the mat.

Downey took the match 10-4 and was promptly thrown to his back in celebration by NJRTC Head Coach Reece Humphrey. To even reach the finals, Downey had to claw his way out of a 7-0 deficit against Myles Martin in the semifinals.

Alex Dieringer looked impressive with an 11-0 technical fall in 1:10 over Chance Marsteller in the 79 kg finals. Dieringer scored two takedowns and three two-point exposures for the win. He gained an additional point from a failed Marsteller challenge. Dieringer was untouchable this tournament and outscored his opponents 53-0.

Isaiah Martinez claimed his second-straight U.S. Open title at 74 kg with a 6-4 over Tommy Gantt. Gantt fought until the end throwing Martinez to his back for four points at the buzzer, but it was not enough.

The 61 kg match featured highlight reel action between Cody Brewer and Nico Megaludis.

Megaludis was in the driver’s seat leading Cody Brewer 3-0 with two minutes remaining in the match. However, the ever-dangerous Brewer launched a beautiful outside trip off a Megaludis shot and earned the pin.

At 125 kg Adam Coon defeated long-time rival Tony Nelson, 5-2. Nelson took an early lead, but Coon’s pressure was too much to hold off. Coon won the U.S. Open in men’s freestyle in 2018 as well.

The Div. I team champions were the Titan Mercury WC, while the Div. II team champions were the Sunkist Kids, with the New York AC in second.

Winning the Bill Farrell Award, which recognizes success in men’s freestyle, women’s freestyle and Greco-Roman at the U.S. Open was the Titan Mercury WC, with the New York AC in second.

The RTC Cup, which recognized the most successful Regional Training Center in the U.S. Open this year, went to the Hawkeye WC, followed by the Minnesota Storm in second. 

2019 US Open Men's Freestyle Finals Results:
57kg - Daton Fix (TMWC) dec Thomas Gilman (TMWC) 8-4
61 kg- Cody Brewer (TMWC) fall Nico Megaludis (TMWC) 3:32
65 kg- Yianni Diakomihalis (TMWC) dec Zain Retherford (NLWC) 6-4
70 kg- Ryan Deakin (TMWC) dec James Green (Sunkist Kids) 8-6
74 kg- Isaiah Martinez (TMWC) dec Tommy Gantt (TMWC) 6-4
79 kg- Alex Dieringer (TMWC) TF Chance Marsteller (TMWC) 11-0
86 kg- Pat Downey (TMWC) dec Nick Heflin (TMWC) 10-4
92 kg- Bo Nickal (NLWC) TF Hayden Zilmer (Minnesota Storm) 13-3
97 kg- Kyven Gadson (Sunkist Kids) dec Benjamin Honis (TMWC) 5-0
125 kg - Adam Coon (New York AC) dec. Tony Nelson (Gopher WC), 5-2 
Outstanding Wrestler – Yianni Diakomihalis (Titan Mercury WC). 65 kg
Div. I Team Champions – 1. Titan Mercury WC, 183
Div. II Team Champions – 1. Sunkist Kids, 34; 2. New York AC, 29
Bill Farrell Award (all three styles) – 1. Titan Mercury WC 136, 2. New York AC 122
RTC Cup -1. Hawkeye WC, 82.5; 2. Minnesota Storm, 74.5

Consolation Results

Outstanding Wrestler – Yianni Diakomihalis (Titan Mercury WC). 65 kg

Div. I Team Champions – 1. Titan Mercury WC, 183

Div. II Team Champions – 1. Sunkist Kids, 34; 2. New York AC, 29

Bill Farrell Award (all three styles) – 1. Titan Mercury WC 136, 2. New York AC 122

RTC Cup -1. Hawkeye WC, 82.5; 2. Minnesota Storm, 74.5

Consolation Results

57 kg
Third- Zane Richards (TMWC) dec Vito Arujau (TMWC) 8-2
Fifth- Darian Cruz (NYAC/LVAC) win by forfeit Nathan Tomasello (TMWC)
Seventh- Frank Perrelli (TMWC) dec Zach Sanders (Minnesota Storm) 2-1

61 kg
Third -Joey Palmer (unattached) dec Tyler Graff (TMWC) 2-2
Fifth- Cory Clark (TMWC) dec Anthony Ramos (Sunkist Kids) 7-4
Seventh- Earl Hall (TMWC) dec Beau Bartlett (Sunkist Kids) 8-6

65 kg
Third- Jayson Ness (Minnesota Storm) fall Frank Molinaro (TMWC) 1:45
Fifth- Jaydin Eierman (TMWC) win by forfeit Jordan Oliver (Sunkist Kids)
Seventh- Kanen Storr (TMWC) win by forfeit BJ Futrell (TMWC)

70 kg
Third- Jason Nolf (NLWC) dec Alec Pantaleo (Michigan) 10-6
Fifth- Brandon Sorenson (TMWC) win by forfeit over Nazar Kulchytskyy (TMWC
Seventh- Jason Chamberlain (TMWC) TF Anthony Collica (TMWC) 11-0

74 kg
Third- Anthony Valencia (Sunkist Kids) dec. Logan Massa (Michigan) 4-4
Fifth- Brian Murphy (NYAC/NJRTC) TF Dan Vallimont (NYAC) 10-0
Seventh-Jared Frayer (TWMC) TF Quinton Godley (TMWC) 15-4

79 kg
Third- Nick Becker (AWA) TF Matthew Finesliver (BBWC) 11-0
Fifth- Geno Morelli (NLWC) TF Stacey Davis (TMWC) 17-5
Seventh- Ben Harvey (West Point) dec CJ Brucki (NJRTC) 10-4

86 kg
Third- Sammy Brooks (NYAC/HWC) dec Brett Pfarr (Minnesota Storm) 7-3
Fifth- Nate Jackson (NYAC/NJRTC) win by forfeit Myles Martin (TMWC)
Seventh- Kenneth Courts (TMWC) win by forfeit Maxwell Dean (TMWC)

92 kg
Third- Michael Macchiavello (TMWC) win by medical forfeit TJ Dudley (TMWC)
Fifth- Kollin Moore (tOSU) TF Riley Lefever (NLWC) 15-4
Seventh- Timmy McCall (TMWC) dec Scottie Boykin (TMWC) 8-6

97 kg
Third- Danny Chaid (CRTC) dec Ty Walz (TMWC) 5-5
Fifth- Kevin Beazley (NYAC/CKWC) win by forfeit Michael Boykin (TMWC)
Seventh- Wynn Michalak (TMWC) dec Jeremiah Imonode (West Point RTC) 3-2

125 kg
Third- Dom Bradley (Sunkist Kids) dec Derek White (TMWC) 3-3
Fifth- Youssif Hemida (TWC) Fall Tate Orndorff (UVRTC) 1:14
Seventh- Garrett Ryan (Sunkist Kids) win by forfeit James Romero (Adams State)