The Marine Corps. representative who shook Penn State wrestler Zain Retherford’s bloody hand Saturday night at the Bob Devaney Center in Lincoln, Neb., wasn’t fazed.
The blood dripping down the wrestler’s face was testimony of how grueling the best-of-three victory against his former coach, Frank Molinaro, was.
The hard-fought win earned Retherford his first spot on the U.S. Senior Men’s Freestyle World Team.
But to get there, he had to get past Molinaro.
Four-time All-American and 2016 Olympian Molinaro (Titan Mercury Wrestling Club) came from behind in the first match and scored late to take the opening 7-6 win over his former student at 65 kilograms.
Retherford (Nittany Lion Wrestling Club) then came out and dominated the second match, 6-0.
He carried that momentum into the third match, but Molinaro wasn’t going to give up easily.
The two went back and forth throughout the match, with heavy hands and a lot of boxing of the ears. Both wrestlers were bloody.
Retherford kept pushing the pace and sealed up the match 7-4, to take the series 2-1.
“I’ve trained with Frank, we’re from same club, and we know what each other has,” Retherford said after the match. “He got in on my leg on the first match. I made some adjustments for the second two, and it paid off.”
This marks Retherford’s first time making the World Team. He came in second place twice at junior worlds and placed third at last year’s Olympic trials.
“This is an awesome feeling,” he said. “I’m kind of embracing it.”
Former Penn State great David Taylor (NLWC) came up just short against Olympic bronze medalist and NCAA champ J’Den Cox.
Taylor looked in control in the first match against Cox at 86 kg, beating him 9-3.
Cox then squeezed out at 4-3 win in the second match.
During the rubber match, Taylor caught Cox in a single leg, driving him off the match. Cox then fell to the ground, writhing in pain. It looked as if the match was over, but after convening with his trainers and coaches, Cox pulled up his socks and took back to the mat.
Barely able to walk, Cox was able to hold off Taylor and keep scoring points. Cox was able to maintain his spot on the World Team with a 5-3 victory.
Penn State’s Mark Hall was also in action this weekend as he earned his third and final spot on the U.S. Junior Men’s Freestyle World Team. Hall earned two technical falls over Iowa’s Alex Marinelli for the win.
The eight winners on the senior level — Nick Gwiazdowski, Thomas Gilman, Logan Stieber, Retherford, James Green, Cox, Jordan Burroughs and Kyle Snyder — will represent the U.S. from Aug. 21-26 in Paris, France.
Hall and the other seven finalists on the junior level will compete in the Junior World Wrestling Championships in Tampere, Finland from Aug. 1-6.