With the conclusion of the 2019 World Team Trials Challenge Tournament, the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club is on the verge yet again of solidifying its place in the upper echelon of freestyle programs.
Former Penn State wrestlers Zain Retherford and Bo Nickal, both of whom were three-time NCAA champions for the Nittany Lions, advanced to Final X: Rutgers on June 8 in the final leg of qualifying for the 2019 World Wrestling Championships.
Nickal won the U.S. Open at 92 kg and advanced automatically to the best-of-three finals of the World Team Trials where he dispatched former NCAA champion Mike Machiavello, beating him by first period tech fall and decision, respectively.
Retherford had a tougher path to the 65 kg finals as he took down former Penn State national champion and Olympian Frank Molinaro by 6-1 decision in the semifinals before beating two-time NCAA champion Jordan Oliver with a pair of 7-6 decisions to clinch his Final X berth.
Nickal will take on two-time World champion and former Olympic bronze medalist J'Den Cox for the chance to represent the United States at 92 kg at the World Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Retherford will get two-time defending NCAA champion Yianni Diakomihalis at 65 kg and will look to avenge his U.S. Open loss to Diakomihalis just weeks ago.
Also joining Nickal and Retherford in Piscataway for Final X is former Penn State wrestler and reigning 86 kg world champion David Taylor who takes on former All-American Pat Downey III.
The event is the first of two Final X series to determined the US World Team, with the other event taking place the following week on June 15 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Both will be streamed live on FloWrestling.