The Zain train is finally headed to Kazakhstan for the Wrestling World Championships.
Zain Retherford took down Cornell’s Yianni Diakomihalis on Monday in a rematch of the duo’s 65kg match-up at Final X in June. Monday’s victory came after an arbitrator ruled the duo should re-wrestle after Retherford’s second victory over Diakomihalis in June was disputed. The rematch took place at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre.
There was plenty of controversy surrounding the duo’s best-of-three series in June, which was protested by Cornell coach Rob Koll. Retherford won the first match by a fairly decisive score of 10-4, but the second one ended in a 6-6 draw that the Penn State alum won on criteria.
That second match actually ended with Diakomihalis holding an 8-6 lead, but Cael Sanderson successfully challenged a call that took that lead away and gave Retherford a deserved win on criteria. An arbitrator nullified this match entirely and scheduled today’s wrestle-off, which ended in a 2-1 victory for Retherford.
Retherford, who represented the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club at Final X, entered the wrestle-off with a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series to determine the United States’ 65kg wrestler at the World Championships.
This year’s World Championships will begin on Sept. 14 and run until Sept. 22 in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. If Retherford manages to earn a medal at the tournament, he’ll secure a berth in the finals of next year’s Olympic trials, which are expected to take place at the Bryce Jordan Center.