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The ‘Zain Train’ Rolls On: Penn State Wrestling Great Zain Retherford Qualifies for Olympics

Photo by Mark Selders, Penn State Athletics: Zain Retherford

One of the greatest in Penn State Wrestling history came into Sunday needing to win four matches to qualify for the 2024 Olympics.

Mission accomplished.

Zain Retherford rolled through Alibeg Alibegov (Bahrain),Abdulmazhid Kudiev (Tajikistan). He then beat Sujeet Sujeet (India) and Niurgun Skriabin (Ain).

He beat Sujeet 2-2 on criteria and Skriabin 7-0.

Retherford’s day started with a bang, pinning Alibegov. He then took care of Kudiev 5-2, surviving a late takedown. Next up was Sujeet Kalkal. Kalkal went ahead with an early takedown, but Retherford matched that takedown in the second period. Kalkal didn’t get any offense in the rest of the way, and Retherford moved on due to criteria.

With Retherford qualifying, the United States will have representatives in all six of its weight classes. Four of them are from the Nittany Lion Wrestling club. Here’s what the 2024 U.S. Olympic Team looks like

57 KG: Spencer Lee

65 KG: Zain Retherford (NLWC)

74 KG: Kyle Dake (NLWC)

86 KG: Aaron Brooks (NLWC)

97 KG: Kyle Snyder (NLWC)

120 KG: Mason Parris 

Before the World Qualifiers, Retherford took care of business at the U.S. Olympic Trials in his old college backyard.

Retherford beat fellow Penn State wrestling standout Nick Lee in a best two-out-of three final to earn a chance to compete in Istanbul.

Before his freestyle career, Retherford made a name for himself as one of the best wrestlers in Penn State history. He and future Olympic Gold Medalist/Oklahoma State head coach David Taylor are the only wrestlers in program history to win two Hodge Trophies, which is wrestling’s equivalent to the Heisman. Only six men in history— another one being Penn State coach Cael Sanderson, who won three at Iowa State— have won more than one Hodge.


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