2022 70 kg World Finalist Zain Retherford (photo courtesy of Kadir Caliskan/UWW)
In the wake of Zain Retherford's semifinal win, I couldn't help but think about the various trajectories that these guys go through before they finally reach the top. We've been blessed with so much young talent in recent years that it's no longer surprising to see a current college wrestler make a Men's World Team. Daton Fix does it. Yianni got himself a nod last year. Kyle Snyder made a habit out of it. Gable Steveson did his thing on the biggest stage of them all. Back in 2016, J'den Cox was making Olympic teams and following everyone back on Twitter.
And way back five years ago in 2017, Zain won himself a spot in the dreaded 65kg class. When I got back into the sport that same year, I immediately gravitated towards Zain and he quickly became my favorite wrestler to watch. Being a bit more naive at the time, I was certain he'd win a medal because he was as good a wrestler as I'd ever seen. Maybe I got ahead of myself by five years. Maybe we take for granted the number of years it takes to adjust to world-level freestyle after completing your folk career. After half a decade of battling in our toughest weight domestically, the Zain Train has settled into a comfortable weight at 70kg and looks better than ever. Now in his prime wrestling age of 27, the hammer from the pumpkin farms of Pennsylvania is primed to win this gold medal and hopefully start a run of domination like his teammate David Taylor did when he turned 27.
Sometimes the journey to get there takes longer than expected, but the only thing that matters is you get there. Zain has arrived and the world has been put on proverbial notice. You love to see it.
What's something I didn't know I needed to know about the upcoming college season? EB
Did you know that Robbie Howard is back and ready to lift the 125 curse for Penn State? The legend from New Jersey has battled a bevy of shoulder surgeries through the years, but hopefully is ready to go this year without any setbacks. We got a small sample of the 3-time Cadet team member in the shortened 2021 season with mixed results but some nice victories to show that he's still dangerous. Plus, four years left!
Would you rather get a cash prize for winning a World medal or a free boat with warranties for a lifetime of happiness? JL Vice
Cash prize no doubt. I can always buy a boat with the money. I'm also quite the landlubber so the open water is all yours.
All things considered, would you rather have free smokes for a year or an all-expense paid trip to the NCAA tournament? Jkos11
What's with all the hypothetical questions here? I'll take the free trip and quit smoking before it kills me.
How good is Kyrgyzstan with their new Greco, Men's and Women's freestyle head coach CEO of Italians? Seth Petarra CEO of Italians
Put it this way, I can spell it without looking thanks to your influence.
Short mailbag today as I know you all want to sneak in a nap before the medal rounds in a few hours. Wrestling is officially back and off to a great start. Amit Elor! World Champ at 18! Most 18-year-olds are halfway through high school at this point and she's already destroying the world.