Steveson repeats as NCAA champion, retires; Penn St team winner | Radio WGN 720


DETROIT (AP) Olympic gold medalist Gable Steveson of Minnesota successfully defended his heavyweight title in his final college game, Cornell’s Yianni Diakomihalis became a three-time champion and Penn State ended a dominant run in the NCAA Tournament Saturday night.

Penn State won its ninth tag team title in 11 years before the finals, then saw five of its wrestlers win individual championships. Michigan finished second for its best team finish in program history, and 2021 champion Iowa finished third.

Top-seeded Steveson, who won gold in Tokyo last summer, won 6-2 over second-seeded Arizona State’s Cohlton Schultz. Steveson took control from the start, scoring a takedown in the opening seconds.

After the match, he bowed three times to the crowd. Fans at Little Caesars Arena continued to cheer, urging him to do his victory backflip. He executed it perfectly and flexed again.

Then he walked to the center of the mat, sat down, and took off his shoes and left them there, the age-old practice of wrestlers signaling their retirement. Steveson has won his last 54 games.

“I’m done,” he said in a post-match ESPN interview. “I did what I came to do. I was going to win Olympic gold and win the national tournament again.

Steveson’s retirement from amateur wrestling was expected. He said he wanted to become a professional wrestler and would compete at WrestleMania in April, although he didn’t say if he would be involved in any way.

“I hope to gain many WWE fans when I take the next step,” he said.

Diakomihalis was never seriously threatened in his five games, winning the 149-pound title with an 11-5 decision over Nebraska’s 10th seed Ridge Lovett. He scored five eliminations against Lovett after defeating him in a sudden victory in their previous meeting this season.

“I feel good, my feet are moving and he hasn’t put himself in a position where he can do anything,” Diakomihalis said. “Good execution by the coaches, good execution by me, so thank you for that.”

Diakomihalis won titles at 141lbs in 2018 and ’19 but quit college wrestling in the past two years. He took an Olympic red jersey in 2020 and was unable to compete last year after the Ivy League shut down sports due to the pandemic.

Diakomihalis struggled internationally in the interim, then extended his college winning streak to 75 games after going 28-0. He is 94-1 as a college kid, including 15-0 in the NCAA Tournament.

The Rochester, New York junior said he plans to return next year to try and join Kyle Dake as Cornell’s only four-time champion.

Heavyweight Greg Kerkvliet wrapped up the Nittany Lions’ 10th NCAA tag team title with a 6-1 decision over Michigan’s Mason Parris in the consolation semifinals.

The Nittany Lions finished with 131.5 points. Michigan had 95 and Iowa 74.

Other finals:

125: Nick Suriano gave Michigan its first national champion since 2012 with a 5-3 decision over No. 3 Pat Glory of Princeton. Number one seed Suriano, who won at 133 in 2019 when he was at Rutgers, scored a first-half takedown and a second-half knockdown before repelling Glory late to close out an unbeaten season.

133: Penn State’s Roman Bravo-Young won his second straight title with a 3-2 decision in the rematch against Oklahoma State’s Daton Fix. Bravo-Young’s early withdrawal gave him the lead in the first-two seed encounter, and his breakout in the third broke a tie. Bravo-Young has won 36 consecutive matches. Fix had won 25 in a row since losing to Bravo-Young last year.

141: Penn State’s top seed Nick Lee repeated his championship title with a 10-2 decision over 15th seed Kizhan Clarke of North Carolina. Clarke, trying to become the lowest seed to win a title, scored a quick takedown. Lee, who became Penn State’s first five-time All-American, was in full control after that.

157: No. 2 seed Ryan Deakin won 9-2 over Princeton’s Quincy Monday to become Northwestern’s first champion since 2014. Fifth-seeded Monday, son of 1988 Olympic gold medalist Kenny Monday , scored the first. Deakin tied it with two breakouts, then had six runs on one out and a four-run near drop.

165: Missouri’s second seed Keegan O’Toole won 6-5 over defending champion Shane Griffith of Stanford. The game was tied 4-4 in the third when O’Toole scored an out at the edge of the circle. O’Toole extended his winning streak to 28 games.

174: Carter Starocci repeated as champion with a 6-5 overtime win over Virginia Tech’s Mekhi Lewis. Starocci’s decisive point in meeting the top two seeds came with his 15-second advantage in driving time. Starocci also needed extra time to win the 2021 final.

184: No. 2 seed Aaron Brooks of Penn State successfully defended his title with a 5-3 decision against Michigan’s top seed Myles Amine. Brooks got a quick takedown and held Amine the rest of the way. Brooks avenged his Big Ten tournament loss to Amine.

197: Penn State’s Max Dean, who traded from Cornell, won his first national title with a 3-2 decision over Iowa’s sixth-seeded Jacob Warner. The game was tied until Dean scored a final out. Dean’s brother, Gabe, was a two-time national champion at Cornell.


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