The long wait and countless days of training have finally come to an end.
Former Penn State wrestling standout and 2012 NCAA Champion Frank Molinaro finally gets his shot at gold.
His road begins at 8 a.m. Sunday and is expected to be televised on the USA Network. It is also a tough road to travel, but Molinaro has battled his whole season to get to this point.
He is on the top part of the 65-kilogram weight class bracket and starts with Poland’s Magomedmurad Gadzhiev. Gadzhiev, who is on a 26-match winning streak, was one of the athletes who tested positive for meldonium, a performance-enhancing drug, back in May. It was also at this time that Molinaro’s dreams of reaching the Olympics came back to life.
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He finished one spot out of automatically earning the final Olympic qualifying berth and his chances of reaching Rio eliminated. However, as others involved in the controversy lost their spots, Molinaro was the lucky recipient of one.
Should Molinaro pull off the upset over Gadzhiev, he could face reigning Olympic champion Toghrul Asgarov, of Azerbaijan. The pair squared off in the finals of the Grand Prix of Germany in July.
Molinaro led the match by four but Asgarov rallied to earn a 5-4 win.
If Molinaro reaches the semifinals, it could be a battle of the Franks. Molinaro could face Italy’s Frank Chamizo Marquez, who is the defending world champion.
Also hitting the mat on Sunday is Ohio State’s Kyle Snyder. The reigning NCAA and world champion opens with Cuba’s Javier Cortina Lacerra. Snyder has topped Lacerra several times.