The saying goes, “If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.”
Former Penn State standout Frank Molinaro had his hands full on the final day of the Olympics on Sunday.
Molinaro’s 65-kilogram weight class finish came up just short of a bronze medal as he faced off with two reigning champions.
He squared off with defending world champion, Italy’s Frank Chamizo, in the bronze medal match. Chamizo came out on top but barely in a 5-3 victory, resulting in a fifth-place finish by Molinaro.
Chamizo scored the first point of the match as Molinaro gave up a passivity point. However, Molinaro rebounded nicely and scored a takedown with 15 seconds left in the first period. He led 2-1 at the break.
In the second period, time was against Molinaro. After giving up another passivity point, Molinaro got taken down by Chamizo to fall behind 5-3 with a minute to go.
Molinaro worked in on a shot with 15 seconds to go and appeared to secure a takedown of his own. As the whistle blew, he was given just a push-out point. After a challenge, Molinaro was revoked the point and Chamizo was given a point for a failed challenge.
Molinaro opened the repechage bracket with Ukraine’s Andriy Kvyatkovskyy.
He tallied the first points with a takedown 58 seconds into the match and tacked on a push-out point to take a 3-0 lead into the break.
Kvyatkovskyy took a 5-4 lead, but not for long. With 1:10 remaining in the match, Molinaro earned his second takedown. He later added another with just under 45 seconds remaining for an 8-5 win.
Molinaro opened his tournament with Poland’s Magomedmurad Gadzhiev. Gadzhiev entered the bout on a 26-match winning streak. Molinaro snapped that streak with a 2-2 win by tiebreak.
Gadzhiev earned the first points of the match with a passivity point from Molinaro. After surrendering that point, Molinaro hit a high crotch for a takedown and a 2-1 lead at the break. Molinaro surrendered another passivity point in the second period and fought off countless Gadzhiev shots.
In the quarterfinals, Molinaro squared off with reigning Olympic champion, Toghrul Asgarov, of Azerbaijan. Asgarov proved why he was the reigning champ with a 10-0 superiority victory.
Asgarov helped keep Molinaro alive in the semifinals. With an Asgarov win, Molinaro got placed into the repechage and had a chance at bronze. With an Asgarov loss, Molinaro’s Olympics were finished.
Asgarov faced off with Chamizo. Asgarov led 3-2 at the break in a back-and-forth match. Asgarov and Chamizo traded takedowns until Asgarov came out on top 7-4.
Ohio State’s Kyle Snyder also took to the mat for the United States on Sunday in the 97-kilogram weight class. Snyder opened with a 10-3 win over Cuba’s Javier Cortina Lacerra. He followed that up with a 7-0 win over Romania’s Albert Saritov.
Snyder advanced to the gold medal match by scoring nine straight points and coming from behind to beat Georgia’s Elizbar Odikadze 9-4. Snyder took on Azerbaijan’s Khetag Goziumov in the final and won the lone gold medal for the United States’ men’s wrestling team.
He led Goziumov 2-0 at the break on a push-out and passivity point. Snyder gave up a passivity point in the second period and fought off countless Goziumov shots for the 2-1 victory.
The Nittany Lion Wrestling Club was also represented by Puerto Rico’s Franklin Gomez. Gomez competed in the 65-kg weight class, too. He opened with a 7-4 win over Bulgaria’s Borislav Stefanov Novachkov.
In his quarterfinal match, Gomez suffered an 8-5 loss to Uzbekistan’s Ikhtiyor Navruzov. In the match, there was controversy when what appeared to be a four-point move for Gomez didn’t count. Instead, the referee signaled a two-point takedown for Navruzov. Gomez’s corner challenged and failed, resulting in another point for Navruzov.