It's been an exhausting summer for Zain Retherford as he looked to make his second world team, but he's finally done it.
Following a drama filled summer, Zain Retherford has finally punched his ticket to the 2019 World Championships with a 2-1 win over Yianni Diakomihalis at a wrestle-off at Wilkes University on Monday. He will wrestle at Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan looking to win his first World medal, and earn a spot on the 2020 Olympic team..
Zain is headed to Kazakhstan! pic.twitter.com/qhUGrvXhH3— FloWrestling (@FloWrestling) September 2, 2019
The Zain Retherford vs. Yianni Diakomihalis rivalry started at the 2019 US Open finals when Diakomihalis defeated him 6-4 and earned a bye to Final X. After winning a grueling World Team Trials, including two wins over Jordan Oliver, Retherford entered Final X: Rutgers an underdog to the Cornell sophomore. At Final X, Retherford defeated Diakomihalis in match one, but the second match had a controversial ruling after time expired. This led to a 92-day drama filled with litigation, and an arbitration ruling requiring the pair to wrestle their second match again and possibly a third if Diakomihalis won match two.
These two then met again at the Yasar Dogu in the opening round, which saw Diakomihalis win and Retherford pick up an injury. When a wrestle-off was announced, there were some doubts that Retherford would be healthy enough to compete. However, he was able to recover, and come away with a 2-1 on Monday afternoon.
The Penn State contingent in attendance were very fired up after the victory.
Zain Retherford will not be seeded at the 2019 World Championships, but his pace and gas tank make him a very unique challenger to the competition at 65 kg. He has improved immensely since his 1-1 finish at the 2017 World Championships, and should be able to contend for a medal. In order to get Team USA a spot in the Olympics, he would have to finish in the top-six in Nur Sultan.
He will compete in the 65 kg bracket on Wednesday, September 18, with the medal matches on Thursday, September 19.