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Nittany Lion Wrestling Club Sends 4 to US Olympic Team

Four Nittany Lion Wrestling Club athletes will head to Tokyo this summer to represent Team USA.

Former Penn State wrestler David Taylor became the newest member of the Nittany Lions’ Olympian club Saturday. He’ll join NLWC members Kyle Snyder, Thomas Gilman and Helen Maroulis on the Olympic team.

Nick Lee and Jason Nolf also battled back to win third place and earn spots on the U.S. National Team.

How It Happened

Thomas Gilman kicked off the Olympic Trial finals for the NLWC with a fall in the second period over Vito Arujau at 57 kg. Gilman found himself trailing 4-0 early but quickly bounced back and went on to score the next 11 points in the match. In the second period, Gilman got Arujau on his back and managed to get the pin to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series.

A lone takedown was the difference in match two, as Gilman secured a spot on the Olympic team with a thrilling 2-2 criteria win over Arujau. Arujau fought back after trailing 2-0 and managed to tie the match 2-2, but Gilman fought off a late takedown attempt to hold on for the win. Since he scored the only takedown of the match, Gilman was victorious based on criteria even though the score was tied. He’ll be the U.S. representative at the Olympics at 57 kg.

At 97 kg, a battle of former Ohio State Buckeyes went down as the NLWC’s Kyle Snyder faced off against Kolin Moore. Snyder dominated from the start, scoring two takedowns along with an exposure and step out to lead 7-0 after the first period. He went on to win by technical fall 10-0 and take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series.

In the second match of the series, Snyder controlled the bout again as he punched his ticket to Tokyo with a 5-1 win over Moore. Snyder scored five points in the first period, which is all he would need since Moore could not complete a second-period comeback. Snyder advances to the Olympics where he’ll attempt to defend his gold medal from 2016.

Bo Nickal took on former world champion David Taylor in an all-Nittany Lion showdown in the 86 kg finals. Both wrestlers got in on one good shot, but Taylor was able to capitalize while Nickal could not, which ended up being the difference in the match. Leading 4-0, Taylor managed to fend off a late attack from Nickal and went on to take a 1-0 lead in the series.

Taylor controlled the second match of the series over his training partner Nickal with a 6-0 win. Nickal managed to get in on a few shots, but Taylor’s defense was too much to get through. Taylor will head to Tokyo looking win his first Olympic medal.

Nick Lee and Jason Nolf both wrestled back to get third place at 65 kg and 74 kg, respectively. Over the course of the tournament, Lee beat three former NCAA champions by a combined score of 38-14 to earn a spot on the United States National Team. Nolf won by technical fall over Evan Wick in his third-place bout to also secure a spot on the team.

Carter Starocci and Vincenzo Joseph both failed to win a match. Greg Kerkvliet went 1-2 but did defeat Mason Parris to avenge a Big Ten Tournament loss and advanced as far as the semifinals. Aaron Brooks went 2-2 with some impressive wins in his Olympic Trials debut. Frank Molinaro, wrestling for Arizona State’s club, also went 1-1 and signified his retirement from wrestling as he left his shoes in the middle of mat after his loss.

Defending Olympic gold medalist Helen Maroulis will represent the NLWC in Tokyo in the 57 kg women’s freestyle. Maroulis took on Jenna Burkert in the finals and after giving up an early takedown scored five straight to win the first match 5-3. In the second bout, Maroulis rallied to take a 5-4 lead but ultimately lost 6-5. In the decisive third match, Maroulis quickly turned Burkert and got the pin at 0:24 to claim her spot on the U.S. Olympic team.

What’s Next?

Team USA will wrestle in the long-awaited Olympic games in Tokyo, Japan from August 1 to 7.