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Zain Retherford Wins Final Spot On U.S. Wrestling Team For World Championships

By Karen Price | Sept. 02, 2019, 6:31 p.m. (ET)

Zain Retherford (R) celebrates victory over Yianni Diakomihalis at Final X on Sept. 2, 2019 in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.


After a nearly three-month wait, Zain Retherford is officially a member of the team that will represent the U.S. at the World Wrestling Championships in Kazakhstan later this month.

Retherford defeated Yianni Diakomihalis 3-1 in a wrestle-off on Monday in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The match came after Retherford won the first match in a best-of-three series by a score of 10-4 at Final X at Rutgers back in June.

Twenty-eight of the 30 world team spots in men’s and women’s freestyle and men’s Greco-Roman were decided at Final X. A wrestle-off for the men’s 79 kg. freestyle spot was held in August.

That left just the opening at men’s 65 kg. freestyle spot to be decided.

Initially the spot went to Retherford following Final X, but Diakomihalis filed an appeal.

Independent arbitrator Matthew Mitten voided the results of match two, a 6-6 victory that resulted in Retherford winning the spot on the world team, because of an improper challenge by Retherford’s corner.

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Retherford’s win in the first match still counted, however, leading to Monday’s wrestle-off. That meant Retherford needed only one win to claim the world team spot. Diakomihalis, who had a 2-1 lead over Retherford in their series history, jumped out to a 1-0 lead but the first period ended with Retherford up 2-1. He got a penalty point before time expired to win 3-1 and make his second world team.

The former Penn State standout won three NCAA national titles and was a two-time Dan Hodge Trophy winner, given to the top college wrestler of the year, while with the Nittany Lions. In March his shutout victory helped the U.S. team beat Japan to win bronze at the Freestyle World Cup in Russia.

The world championships will be held Sept. 14-22 in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.

The now-complete world championships team is as follows:

Women’s Freestyle Team: Whitney Conder (50 kg.), Sarah Hildebrandt (53 kg.), Jacarra Winchester (55 kg.), Jenna Burkert (57 kg.), Alli Ragan (59 kg.), Kayla Miracle (62 kg.), Forrest Molinari (65 kg.), Tamyra Mensah-Stock (68 kg.), Victoria Francis (72 kg.), and Adeline Gray (76 kg.)

Men’s Freestyle Team: Daton Fix (57 kg.), Tyler Graff (61 kg.), Zain Retherford (65 kg.), James Green (70 kg.), Jordan Burroughs (74 kg.), Kyle Dake (79 kg.), Pat Downey (86 kg.), J’den Cox (92 kg.), Kyle Snyder (97 kg.), Nick Gwiazdowski (125 kg.)

Men’s Greco-Roman Team: Max Nowry (55 kg.), Ildar Hafizov (60 kg.), Ryan Mango (63 kg.), Ellis Coleman (67 kg.), Raymond Bunker (72 kg.), Patrick Smith (77 kg.), John Stefanowicz (82 kg.), Joe Rau (87 kg.), G’Angelo Hancock (97 kg.), Adam Coon (130 kg.)

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.