The Zain Train’s Undefeated Dual Career In Review
When senior 149-pounder Zain Retherford pinned Buffalo’s Nick Palumbo Sunday, he put an exclamation point on his dual career in the most fitting way possible. The fall was the 52nd of Retherford’s career and moved him within one pin of tying the program record. It also resulted in his 60th dual win and 30th at Rec Hall, punctuating his career with an undefeated record in duals.
Retherford hasn’t lost since March of 2014 when he was a true freshman, Nick Lee was 15 years old, and Penn State was busy chasing its fourth consecutive NCAA title. That year, Retherford had won his first 29 matches before placing second in the Big Ten Championships and fifth in the NCAA Championships, thanks to two losses to No. 1 Mitchell Port of Edinboro and eventual 141-pound champion No. 2 Logan Stieber of Ohio State — all by a combined 10 points.
With Retherford’s time in Rec Hall now in the rearview mirror, we looked back at some of the best memories and statistics of his iconic run:
Best Bout: 4-2 Sudden Victory Win vs. Logan Stieber
We’re still talking about it four years later.
In his 11th college bout, his first matchup with a ranked opponent, and his Rec Hall debut, Retherford established himself with a 4-2 sudden victory win against two-time national champion No. 1 Logan Stieber of Ohio State.
Retherford entered the December 2013 dual as the No. 8 wrestler at 141 lbs. He used a second-period ride-out to earn a riding time point that forced extra time. He later won the match 4-2 off a takedown in sudden victory.
That win was so monumental that it remains the best memory of former Nittany Lion fan favorite Jimmy Gulibon’s college career.
26 Dual Falls 302 Team Points
Of Retherford’s 60 dual wins, almost half of them came via fall. Retherford’s 46 bonus point-wins scored Penn State 302 team points over his four seasons.
5-0 in the BJC
Retherford has seized the moment in every venue he’s competed in, but he pieced together quite an impressive resume while competing on the opposite side of campus from Rec Hall. In Penn State’s five duals at the Bryce Jordan Center during Retherford’s career, he was 5-0 with three falls.
11 Takedowns Allowed in Duals
Retherford was only taken down 11 times in 60 dual bouts. That’s less than once every five matches.
In comparison, he totaled 161 takedowns in dual competition or more than 2.5 per bout.
4-11 in Dual Bouts at 141 lbs. During Retherford’s Redshirt Year
How much did Penn State miss Retherford while he redshirted during the 2014-15 season? Kade Moss and Michael Waters were a combined 4-11 in duals in place of Retherford at 141 lbs. as the Nittany Lions finished 11-4 in an off year.
Comparatively, Penn State was 59-1 in duals Retherford competed in.
The outcomes of all four dual losses in the 2014-15 season were within one bout. Moss was 0-4, including two losses by fall in those four losses, so having Retherford in the lineup could’ve given Penn State a much-needed shot in the arm.
At the 2015 NCAA Championships, Penn State placed sixth and didn’t enter a wrestler at 141 lbs. after Moss failed to place at the Big Ten Championships. The Nittany Lions’ 67.5 points were 35.5 behind Ohio State’s title-winning total.
Make whatever conjectures you want about Retherford, who’s contributed team point tallies in the twenties in his last two NCAA Championships, competed, and challenged Stieber at 141 lbs.
The Wave Goodbye
Was there a more fitting way for Retherford to cap off his time at Rec Hall than with a fall?
Was there a more fitting way for Retherford, rarely one to celebrate expressively, to leave the mat than with a respectful wave to the crowd that sold out every single dual he’s competed in?
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