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BREAKING: Penn State wrestling star Zain Retherford uses epic rally to earn Olympic bid

Penn State wrestling star Zain Retherford is Paris-bound, earning his first bid to the Olympic Games with an epic last-day rally at World Olympic Games Qualifier on Sunday.



Penn State wrestling, Zain Retherford, 2024 Summer Olympics, World Olympic Games Qualifier
Apr 20, 2024; State College, Pennsylvania, USA; Zain Retherford walks on the mat in a 65 kilograms second round and best of three finals match during the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team Trials at Bryce Jordan Center at Penn State. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Zain Retherford is heading to Paris. The three-time National Champion for Penn State wrestling clinched his spot in the 2024 Summer Olympics Sunday with a strong finish at the World Olympic Games Qualifier in Istanbul, Turkey. After dropping a match on Saturday, Retherford pulled off a valiant four-for-four rally in Sunday’s repechage to earn his first Olympic bid. With the United States now sending all six freestyle weights to the Summer Games, Retherford joins three others from the Nittany Lions wrestling family heading to Paris.

Zain Retherford rallies through repechage to earn first Olympic bid

After winning the Olympic Team Trials Championship at 65 kg last month in State College, Zain Retherford traveled to Turkey this week for the World Olympic Games Qualifier with one final shot at making the 2024 Summer Olympics. The week started strong for the ex-Penn State wrestling star, winning his first two matches. But then Retherford fell to Tulga Tumur-Ochir of Mongolia 7-2 in the round of 16.

However, Tumur-Ochir earned himself a trip to the tournament’s finals, allowing the former Nittany Lion to reenter the mix via the consolation bracket, known as the repechage. Retherford, who weeks ago was working in finance in New York, now stood halfway around the world Sunday needing to rattle off four wins in a row to reach his Olympic dreams.

And that’s exactly what Zain Retherford did. Retherford advanced to the true-bronze Olympic playoff match Sunday morning with a victory by fall over Alibeg Alibegov (Bahrain), a 5-2 win over Abdulmazhid Kudiev (Tajikistan), and a 2-2 criteria win over Sujeet Sujeet (India). There, he defeated Niurgun Skriabin (Belarus) to win the World Olympic Games Qualifier bronze and, more importantly, a spot in the 2024 Summer Olympic Games.

Penn State wrestling family well represented on Team USA

There will be many familiar faces for the Nittany Lion faithful this summer in Paris. Zain Retherford becomes the fourth member of the Penn State wrestling family to clinch his bid to the Summer Olympics, with the others doing so in State College in April.

Retherford will be joined by fellow Penn State wrestling alum Aaron Brooks as a first-time Olympian. Brooks took down reigning Gold Medalist David Taylor at 86 kg.

Two NLWC members will also make their return to the Olympic Games. Kyle Dake clinched his spot at 74 kg by taking down Jason Nolf. Dake will look to improve on his Bronze Medal from the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. At 97 kg, 2016 Gold Medalist Kyle Snyder became the 11th wrestler in American history to qualify for the Olympics in three separate years.

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Matt is a co-owner and Editor in Chief of Basic Blues Nation. Launched in 2022, Basic Blues Nation is one of the fastest-growing websites covering all Penn State athletics, with over 3.5 million readers in 2023. Matt is also a credentialed member of the Penn State football beat, and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America.


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