2021 World Team Trials

Controversy & Late Match Heroics: The Yianni - McKenna Rivalry

Controversy & Late Match Heroics: The Yianni - McKenna Rivalry

Everything you need to know about the Yianni Diakomihalis - Joey McKenna rivalry.

Sep 8, 2021 by JD Rader
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Despite the fact that Yianni Diakomihalis and Joey McKenna have only wrestled four times, it’s turning into one of the better current American wrestling rivalries. A lot of that probably has to do with the anticipation around every match. It was either a #1 vs #2 or #1 vs #3 match in college and they have both always been ranked #1 - #5 domestically on the senior level. As the probably #1 and #2 seeds in Lincoln this weekend, Sunday could be a big new chapter in this rivalry’s short but fun book. 

Of the four times the two have met, Yianni owns a 3-1 total advantage in the series. However, so far in freestyle, it’s dead even at one match apiece. And of course, several of these matches haven’t occurred without controversy and late match heroics. Below is a chronological breakdown of the entire Jordan Burroughs - David Taylor rivalry.

College

Yianni and Joey only overlapped in college for two seasons: 2018 and 2019. With Cornell and Ohio State’s schedules those seasons there have only been 

2019 Dual

The two finally met on February 22nd, 2019 inside the Newman Arena at Cornell University. Going into the season, the two were ranked #1 and #2, but after McKenna dropped a match to Nick Lee, they entered this match as #1 and #3.

The final outcome of the match was a 7-5 victory for Yianni, but the boxscore told the real story with one big stat sticking out. 

Takedowns: Yianni 3, McKenna 0

Yianni used three takedowns and an escape to score his points while McKenna used three escapes and a reversal to score his. A great way to start a rivalry if you’re a Yianni fan.

2019 NCAAs

Sure, there was a lot of anticipation around their first match, but it’s a whole new ballgame on Saturday night on the big stage. Add on the fact that Joey looked great at Big Tens and avenged his loss to Lee twice, and a lot of fans were circling this match as a can’t miss NCAA final.

McKenna came out looker better right away and getting the first takedown and held that lead until the last 6 seconds of the match when Yianni got a controversial takedown to send it into overtime. In overtime, Yianni prevailed in typical Yianni fashion with a counter takedown to seal the deal.

Watch Yianni and Joey’s 2019 NCAA final below.

Yianni/McKenna NCAA Final

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Senior Level

As 2019 was McKenna’s senior year, their 2019 NCAA final will be the last time they wrestle folkstyle. From here on out, it’s senior-level freestyle only. While they have been in a handful of the same tournament brackets, they have actually only met twice. Unlike their folkstyle record, this one is 1-1.

2019 Senior Nationals

This one started out similar to their NCAA final, but it ended almost the exact opposite. McKenna came out and got the first takedown and held that lead until the final minute when Yianni scored a takedown and turn to go ahead 5-3. With literally one second left on the clock, however, Joey scored a takedown to win.

This is also the match that led to this very standard wrestling position.

Watch McKenna break down his 2019 Senior Nationals semifinal win over Yianni below.

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2021 Poland Open

This rivalry’s last match has by far been the most one-sided. Yianni came out firing and used a variety of leg attacks, defense, and par terre to beat McKenna 15-4 in Poland. Yianni even scored a big four-pointer from quadpod to end it.

Watch Yianni and McKenna’s last match below.

Yianni Diakomihalis vs Joey McKenna

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2021 World Team Trials

The two didn’t hit at Olympic Team Trials. Yianna lost to Jordan Oliver in the semifinals and fell to fourth place on the backside while Joey also lost to JO, but in the finals. With Oliver, Zain Retherford, and James Green moving up to 70 kg, Yianni and Joey appear to be on a collision course to the finals. Luckily for us, that means we’ll get to see this match not once, but two or three times!

How do you see it going down in rounds 3-5?