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WHO’S NEXT? USAW STAR OF THE FUTURE


Motivated Retherford delivers with huge year


Pennsylvania star earned title at FILA Cadet World Championships By Craig Sesker


Zain Retherford found the perfect way to turn a negative into a positive.


Ruled ineligible for his junior season after transferring to Benton (Pa.) High School, Retherford set his sights on excelling in freestyle wrestling during the spring and summer. Retherford did exactly that, going on an amazing run that


started with him winning titles at the FILA Cadet Nationals in Akron, Ohio and the Junior Nationals in Fargo, N.D. He didn’t stop there, going on to capture a gold medal at the


FILA Cadet World Championships in August in Baku, Azerbaijan.


“Not wrestling during the high school season definitely pushed me even harder,” he said. “I had something to shoot for and something I wanted to accomplish. I made major gains in the weight room, the wrestling room and the classroom.” Retherford rallied to defeat Russia’s Supian Burmagomedov 0-1, 4-3, 2-1 in the FILA Cadet World finals at 63 kg/138.75 lbs. “It meant a lot to win that – it is a stepping stone for interna- tional events in the future,” Retherford said. “Winning the Cadet World title was my goal coming into the tournament, and to reach your goal feels awesome. It gives me a lot of momentum, and it was a huge boost for me.” Retherford took just two days off after winning Junior Nationals in July. He then started training for the Cadet Worlds. “My coach, Russ Hughes, told me he was going to put me through the hardest workouts of my life,” Retherford said. That training boosted Retherford as he relied on a relentless, attacking style in Azerbaijan.


“I wasn’t too discouraged when I lost the first period in the finals,” he said. “Obviously, you want to win the period, but I just kept pushing the pace. I could feel him getting tired and I broke the guy eventually. He didn’t feel that strong in the third period.” Retherford also spent time before the FILA Cadet Worlds at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. “It was a great experience, going out there,” he said. “The coaches, Bill Zadick and Zack Esposito, helped me fine-tune some things, and I had a lot of good workout partners.” Zadick, a 2006 World champion, said he enjoyed working with Retherford this past summer. “Zain has an amazing passion for wrestling,” Zadick said. “He worked unbelievably hard when he was out here. He was con- stantly asking questions, and he was very eager and hungry to improve every day. He’s a ferocious competitor who wrestles with a high pace and high tempo. He wrestled like a buzzsaw and just kept coming at the Cadet Worlds.”


Retherford has developed while wrestling in numerous USA 30 USA Wrestler


Pennsylvania’s Zain Retherford won a Junior Nationals freestyle championship this past July. John Sachs photo.


Wrestling events.


“Competing in those national events is an awesome experi- ence,” he said. “It helps a lot. It definitely helped get me ready for when I competed overseas.”


Retherford has already committed to wrestle collegiately for


Penn State, which has won the last two NCAA team titles. “I’m excited to wrestle at Penn State,” he said. “It’s close to home, it’s a top level program and education-wise it’s a great school. The coaches are awesome and there are great training partners. Everything about it is great.” For now, Retherford is focused on the upcoming high school season. He won a Pennsylvania state title as a freshman and placed third as a sophomore for Line Mountain before having to sit out last season after moving to Benton. Retherford started his senior season by winning the Super 32 Challenge in late October in Greensboro, N.C. He won at 138. “It was hard not being able to wrestle last season,” he said. “I’m excited to get back out there. I want to win state again.”


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