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Yianni vs. Zain: The Next Piece of the Saga

Yianni vs. Zain: The Next Piece of the Saga

As some of you may or may not know, on July 22nd an agreement was reached between US Open Champ Yianni Diakomihalis’ coaching staff, led by Cornell coach Rob Koll, and 2017 world team member and 3 time NCAA champ Zain Retherford’s coaching corner led up by Cael Sanderson, to bring in an arbitrator over the final call that decided match two at Final X.  The “who” as to who the arbitrator is has not been released by either side, all we know for right now is that both sides have agreed on one, and have agreed to any decision that may follow. The date of the arbitration is set for July 29, 2019 and will include sides of the match from both wrestlers and their coaching staffs, as well as with the officials, and reviews of the two bouts that took place at Final X.  For those of you who have been living under a rock, here are the links to matches one and two at Final X Rutgers for your viewing pleasure.  

Match 1


Match 2

Now, there is no question that Retherford won the first bout in pretty dominating fashion.  Where we get into the questionable part of the match is in the second bout at roughly a minute or so left.  The initial call said that there was exposure from both wrestlers on the final roll through scoring them each two points, and putting Yianni up 8-6 late in the match.  There are two things in this final minute that really bug me. On the roll through, based on the camera angle given to the viewers, it does not seem as though Yianni ever broke 90 degrees, so I think if anything it should have been 2 blue and zero red making the score 8-4 in favor of Yianni forcing a third match.  However, I am not an expert by any means, but the call was initially split, 2 points blue from the mat, and 2 points red from the head table.  

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The second thing that bugs me are the rules, or lack thereof, on the video challenge used.  To my knowledge, there are no rules saying how far a coach can go back and challenge, however the commentators seem to have doubts on how far back can be used.  All time issues aside, if Coach Sanderson had an issue with the scoring and positioning, why was his brick only thrown at the end of the match? He had a who thirty or more seconds to throw out the brick and only decided it was a good idea after Yianni would have won and forced a third match.  This makes me think that Cael does not have an issue with anything other than the final outcome. I feel as a coach at that level, you should have voiced your opinion on an issue that big before the end of regulation. This will feed the hype, whether it be true or not, that Yianni got robbed of a potential tie breaking third match.  

Now, you could argue that Yianni should have been more aggressive, or shouldn’t have put himself in that position, but there is one big thing to consider.  This is the absolute highest level of wrestling, and Zain is one of the most explosive and offensive guys in this 65KG class, I think Yianni, regardless of the final outcome, approached the match well as far as using his unmatched scrambling ability to cancel out some of Zain’s explosiveness.  Both of these young men are where they are for a reason, and I think both of them wrestled very well in this series with some mistakes on both ends.  

In my opinion, I feel the match should either be redone, or the second match should be rescored with Yianni the winner and force them to wrestle a third match.  However, to lessen my bias just a bit, I could see this both ways. If the decision stands, and Zain is held the victor, it is because he was the one constant aggressor, and Yianni’s own pacivity.  If Yianni gets the decision for a match three, it will solely be based on his expertise of body awareness, mat awareness, and dynamite scrambling ability. Although none of us can say for sure what the official call from USA Wrestling will be, it is safe to say that on August 29th, the entire wrestling world will be watching as the fate of these young men hangs in the balance. 

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