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Snyder rolls, Retherford downs Bajrang at NLWC event

Zain Retherford defeated Bajrang Punia at the fourth NLWC event (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

Olympic gold medalist and two-time world champion Kyle Snyder was back on the mat.

And we had an intriguing matchup of Zain Retherford against Bajrang Punia.

Those were among the standouts we saw as the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club put on another entertaining wrestling event on Tuesday night in State College, Pa.

The event was shown live on Rokfin. It was the fourth event the NLWC has hosted over the past few months.

Here is a recap of Tuesday's bouts:

Franklin Gomez df. Malik Amine, VPO1 5-2

Gomez, a past world silver medalist, continues to bump up in weight and continues to excel. He scored an early pushout and followed with a leg attack for a takedown. He led 3-0 at the break over a solid opponent in Amine. Gomez scored on a slick re-attack to lead 5-0 early in the second period. Amine turned Gomez and gained two exposure points late in the bout. Gomez prevailed 5-2 in a good opening bout.

Michael Beard df. Nick Reenan, VPO1 10-6

Beard charged out aggressively, converting on a pair of early leg attacks to lead 6-2 in the first minute. The wrestlers each scored two points on an exchange initiated by a shot from Beard. That gave the Penn State wrestler an 8-4 lead. Beard is an impressive looking young wrestler. He added another takedown in the final minute to build his lead to 10-4. Reenan scored a late takedown, but Beard prevailed by a 10-6 score.

Kyle Snyder tech. Ty Walz, VSU 10-0

Snyder, coming back from an injury, looked very strong in his return. He powered to a quick 3-0 lead with a pushout and leg attack for a takedown. Snyder is hungry to be the best in the world again and it showed in a dominant performance against a quality opponent. Snyder built a 5-0 lead after one period and made it look easy. He increased the lead to 7-0 with a strong attack early in the second period. Snyder is a workhorse and kept the pressure on. He added two more points in a scramble to lead 9-0 and then scored a pushout to prevail 10-0. Snyder put on a show - he's an incredible wrestler. He's definitely on track to win another Olympic gold medal.

Emma Bruntil df. Jen Page, VPO1 2-1

Bruntil spun behind Page to score the match's first takedown late in the first period. She led 2-0 at the break. Page closed within 2-1 in the second period of a tactical, low-scoring match. Bruntil controlled the center of the mat and was strong defensively in earning a 2-1 win over a veteran in Page.

Carter Starocci tech. Daniel Bullard, VSU1 13-2

Starocci has been impressive in previous events and that trend continued Tuesday. He's an impressive young prospect. Starocci shot in on a double before switching off into a single to score a takedown. That gave him a 3-0 lead late in the first period. Bullard countered for a two-point turn before Starocci scored a reversal to lead 4-2 at the break. Starocci shot in on a single-leg attack before finishing to lead 7-2 with two minutes to go. He followed with another single and finish for a 9-2 advantage. He added two more leg attacks and takedowns to win 13-2. Starocci turned in another strong performance.

Hayden Hidlay df. Brady Berge, VPO 5-0

Hidlay came out on the attack, but Berge slowed him down during a low-scoring start to the bout. Hidlay powered in on a shot to score a pushout just before time ran out in the first period. He led 2-0 at the break. Hidlay doubled his lead with a leg attack and finish with just under two minutes left. He added a late pushout to earn a hard-fought 5-0 victory.

Nick Lee df. Tariq Wilson, VPO1 14-10

This was another match that fans were really looking forward to watching. Wilson came out firing off the first whistle, scoring on an early leg attack to lead 2-0. Lee came right back with a takedown to tie the bout in the first minute. Wilson countered with his second takedown to lead 4-2. Lee came back with a single-leg attack and takedown to tie it 4-4. He added a leg lace in the same sequence to lead 6-4. Lee continued to push the pace and converted off a leg attack to lead 8-4 late in the first period. Wilson shot in on a single to start the second period for a pushout, but Lee came back again for a leg attack to lead 10-5. Lee hit a takedown and transitioned to a lace to lead 14-6 with just over a minute to go. Wilson continued to battle, scoring a takedown to draw within 14-8 with 38 seconds left. He added another takedown with 10 seconds left. Lee held off Wilson 14-10. It was an action-packed bout between two excellent wrestlers.

Jane Valencia df. Xochitl Mota-Pettis, VPO1 4-4

Valencia is another wrestler who has excelled in these events. Mota-Pettis countered a shot and spun behind Valencia to score the opening takedown. Mota-Pettis hit an ankle pick early in the second period to build a 4-0 lead. Valencia responded with two takedowns in the final minute, including one with two seconds left, to win 4-4 by criteria. Valencia came back strong and found a way to prevail.

Co-main event

Roman Bravo-Young df. Aljamain Sterling, VPO1 6-4

RBY met Sterling, who competes in mixed martial arts, in an interesting matchup. Sterling launched Bravo-Young with a lateral drop to lead 4-0. RBY scored a takedown late in the three-minute first period to draw within 4-2. He scored another TD early in the second period to tie the match. Bravo-Young scored on a pushout to led 5-4 with just over a minute left in the second period. RBY won the wrestling bout 6-4.

The third period featured a submission format where Sterling took control early from the top position. He was able to submit RBY to win the final period. Kudos to both of these guys for making this match happen between two superb competitors.

Main event

Zain Retherford df. Bajrang Punia, VPO1 6-0

This promised to be a great matchup with Retherford, a world team member, battling a two-time world medalist in Punia. Retherford spun behind early for the opening takedown and led 2-0 at the break. He fired in for a takedown and followed with a leg lace to lead 6-0 early in the second period. Punia, ranked No. 2 in the world, nearly had a takedown midway through the second period before Zain fought him off. Great performance by Retherford against an excellent opponent and a great way to cap the evening.

Final word

It was another excellent night of wrestling with a ton of matches featuring top-level talent. Great work on the broadcast, particularly the analysis by David Taylor. He brings so much passion, knowledge and enthusiasm to the broadcast. The "match" between Santa Claus and The Grinch was a fun way to keep everything light during the main event. Once again, the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club put on an excellent event featuring high-caliber matches. It was great to see Kyle Snyder back in action and Zain Retherford looked really good.

Craig Sesker has written about wrestling for more than three decades. He's covered three Olympic Games, written 10 books and is a two-time national wrestling writer of the year.

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