6 Nittany Lion Wrestling Club members earn spots on United States World Team

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There were 10 United State World Team spots for the Men’s Freestyle team on the line on Saturday inside the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

When the dust settled, the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club makes up half of the squad, which will compete in the Senior World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, Sept. 16-24. There was one women’s wrestler representing the NLWC, who also made the World Team.

Former Penn State wrestlers Nick Lee (65 kg), Zain Retherford (70 kg), and David Taylor (86 kg) along with fellow NLWC teammates Kyle Dake (74 kg) and Kyle Snyder (97 kg) will head to Serbia. Jennifer Page (59 kg) was the woman wrestler for the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club.

Taylor and Dake were part of an all-NLWC final at their respective weights.

Taylor’s match was the highlight final as he faced off with current Nittany Lions wrestler Aaron Brooks. Brooks traveled with Taylor to the Tokyo Olympics, which Taylor won, to be a training partner.

In the first match of the best-of-three series, it was all Taylor. He collected a passivity point for the lone point of the first period. In the second period, the Olympic champion picked up another passivity point from Brooks. He tacked on a takedown and exposure late for a 6-0 win.

In the second match, it was closer.

Brooks collected the first points by taking Taylor down with 1 minute to go in the first period. However, Taylor responded with a takedown about 30 seconds later.

The second period opened with a 2-2 score, but Taylor took the lead with two exposure points with 2 minutes remaining. Brooks’ corner challenged the exposure point, but it failed, so that gave Taylor another point, and a 5-2 lead.

Brooks wouldn’t be deterred as he collected a nice blast double leg takedown on Taylor. However, it was too late as Taylor hung on to win 5-4, and swept the series.

Dake took on former Penn State great Jason Nolf. Dake is a newer member of the NLWC, but his veteran prowess showed against Nolf.

In the first match, Nolf was unable to get anything going as Dake held a 2-0 lead after one period of wrestling. In the second period, Dake tacked on a takedown and exposure of Nolf’s back to earn a 6-0 victory.

The second match saw Nolf unable to score again. Dake collected a passivity point and had a takedown in the first period. They were the only points scored in the match as Dake earned a 3-0 win and has a shot of winning his fifth world title.

Lee and Retherford had a clean sweep in their finals matches.

Lee faced off with newly crowned four-time NCAA Champion in Yianni Diakomihalis. The pair were tied 2-2 after one period in their first match.

Nine points were score in the second period. Diakomihalis had the first points with a pushout of Lee. Lee responded with a takedown and a pushout, but Diakomihalis picked up a reversal to trail, 5-4.

Diakomihalis picked up a takedown late to take a lead, but Lee earned late exposure points to win, 7-6.

The second match was just as close. The pair traded takedowns in the first period with Diakomihalis holding the criteria lead.

Diakomihalis had three takedowns in the second period. Lee had two takedowns and late exposure points, which would give him an 8-8 criteria win. Diakomihalis’ corner challenged the exposure, which failed, so Lee won 9-8.

Former Penn State wrestler Zain Retherford swept a best of three series against Tyler Berger (not pictured) on Saturday to earn the 70 kilogram World Team spot for the United States.
Former Penn State wrestler Zain Retherford swept a best of three series against Tyler Berger (not pictured) on Saturday to earn the 70 kilogram World Team spot for the United States.

Retherford took on former Nebraska wrestler Tyler Berger and was dominant in the first match. The former Nittany Lions’ consistent pressure frustrated Berger to the point that he intentionally headbutted Retherford late in the first match.

It busted open Retherford’s forehead, which caused a lengthy delay to stop the bleeding. The pair had some words when the match came to a close, which was an 11-2 victory for Retherford.

The second match was closer as Berger held a 3-1 lead after one period. Retherford tallied a takedown with 1 minute remaining in the second period and added a passivity point for a 4-3 win.

Snyder didn’t have to do too much to earn his World Team spot. He was supposed to take on J’Den Cox in the 97 kg finals.

However, Cox didn’t make the call for either of the two matches of the series. Snyder had his hand raised, and that was it.

Thomas Gilman also competed for the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club at 57 kilograms against Zane Richards. It didn’t go as well for the former Iowa wrestler.

The first match saw Richards use takedowns to secure a 4-3 series-opening win. Richards again used a late flurry in the second period of the second match to top Gilman, 8-6, and secure the World Team spot.

Former Penn State wrestler Vincenzo Joseph was supposed to wrestle for a true-third place spot against Keegan O’Toole at 74 kg, but Joseph didn’t make the match.

Women’s freestyle

Page looked for a spot on the World Team against Michaela Beck. She left no doubt in earning her spot.

In the first match of the best-of-three series, Page needed just 2 minutes, 22 seconds to dispatch Beck, 11-0, in a technical superiority win. In the second match, Page won by the same score; however it took her 4:08 to top Beck.

The Final X

Saturday at Newark, N.J.

Men’s Freestyle

57 kg: 1st round, Zane Richards dec. Thomas Gilman, 4-3; 2nd round, Richards dec. Gilman, 8-6, Richards wins series 2-0

61 kg: 1st round, Vito Arujau dec. Nahshon Garrett, 6-5; 2nd round, Arujau dec. Garrett, 13-10, Arujau wins series 2-0

65 kg: 1st round, Nick Lee dec. Yianni Diakomihalis, 7-6; 2nd round, Lee dec. Diakomihalis, 8-8, criteria, Lee wins series 2-0

70 kg: 1st round, Zain Retherford dec. Tyler Berger, 11-2; 2nd round, Retherford dec. Berger, 4-3, Retherford wins series 2-0

74 kg: 1st round, Kyle Dake dec. Jason Nolf, 6-0; 2nd round, Dake dec. Nolf, 3-0, Dake wins series 2-0

79 kg: 1st round, Jordan Burroughs dec. Chance Marsteller, 3-3, criteria; 2nd round, Marsteller, dec. Burroughs, 5-4; 3rd round, Marsteller dec. Burroughs, 8-3, Marsteller wins series 2-1

86 kg: 1st round, David Taylor dec. Aaron Brooks, 6-0; 2nd round, Taylor dec. Brooks, 5-4, Taylor wins series 2-0

92 kg: 1st round, Zahid Valencia dec. Michael Macchiavello, 8-0; 2nd round, Valencia dec. Macchiavello, 9-2, Valencia wins series 2-0

97 kg: 1st round, Kyle Snyder def. J’den Cox, forfeit; 2nd round, Snyder def. Cox, forfeit, Snyder wins series 2-0

125 kg: 1st round, Gable Steveson dec. Mason Parris, 6-2; 2nd round, Steveson dec. Parris, 5-0, Steveson wins series 2-0

Women’s freestyle

59 kg: 1st round, Jennifer Page tech. fall Michaela Beck, 11-0 (2:22); 2nd round, Page tech. fall Beck, 11-0 (4:08), Page wins series 2-0