3x NCAA Champion Yianni Diakomihalis (photos courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)
It was an exciting offseason to say the least. Brown University welcomed Jordan Leen as their new Head Coach. Yianni Diakomihalis earned a silver medal at the World Championships at the senior level. His teammate, Jacob Cardenas earned the same at the U23 level. Princeton hired Julia Salata as Director of Operations â€“ which was monumental for women's involvement in the sport. There were many coaching changes, with some both leaving and coming into the conference. Hofstra and Lehigh both used the transfer portal to upgrade their line-ups. The EIWA season kicks off November 5th! Enough stalling, let's get to the weight-by-weight preview.
The returning conference champion and 3rd place finisher at NCAAs, Vito Arujau of Cornell, is moving up a weight class - this time for good. This leaves the weight wide open for the returning NCAA runner-up, Pat Glory of Princeton. This is Glory's final year in the orange and black, so look for him to make the most of it â€“ potentially at the top of the podium in Tulsa.
NCAA Qualifier Prediction: Altogether, I'll predict 4 NCAA qualifiers. Some wrestlers looking to challenge Glory would be Jaret Lane from Lehigh, Ryan Miller of Penn, Joe Manchio of Columbia, and whoever wins the Cornell spot between Brett Ungar and Dom LaJoie. LaJoie was an EIWA semi-finalist at 133lbs last season. For those who may have forgotten one of the better matches in that round, LaJoie came out on the short end of the stick in an overtime thriller against Josh Koderhandt of Navy. Throw in guys like Antonio Mininno of Drexel, who qualified for the cancelled 2020 NCAA Championships, and Micah Roes of Binghamton â€“ this weight is deeper than the shallow end these guys may or may not be able to stand inâ€¦
Darkhorse: I am becoming more of a fan of American's Max Leete every time I see him wrestle. With another offseason of development with Coach Joey Dance, I'm expecting him to improve big-time. He is a tough wrestler, with an â€œin your faceâ€ type of style that some wrestlers struggle with.
I also want to mention LIU's Robby Sagaris. He lost a lot of close matches last season as a freshman. If he can flip some of those matches, he can potentially make a run in March. We'll see how he develops during the season.
*Many expected to see Greg Diakomihalis in the mix for the Cornell Big Red. Unfortunately, he had surgery to repair a torn ACL in October. Expect him back next season*
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