Nittany Lion Wrestling Club Well Represented At US Olympic Trials

With the Olympic Trials set to get underway this weekend in Fort Worth, Texas, Penn State wrestling and the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club will showcase plenty of talent as wrestlers pursue their shot at Olympic glory.

Penn State and the NLWC will be well represented with more than a dozen contestants entered into the tournament, which was originally supposed to take place on Penn State’s home turf. Four wrestlers — Thomas Gilman at 57 kg, Zain Retherford at 65 kg, Jason Nolf at 74 kg, and David Taylor at 86 kg — boast top seeds.

Former Olympic and World Champion Kyle Snyder has an automatic spot in the finals at 97 kg. He will face the winner of the challenge tournament in a best-of-three showdown for a spot on the Olympic team.

Here is a look at each weight class for the NLWC:

Thomas Gilman is the lone competitor for the NLWC at 57 kg, giving him the top seed. The former Iowa Hawkeye will have a tough path to make the Olympic team, as he’ll have to face hammers like Seth Gross, Vito Arujau, and NCAA runner-up Daton Fix.

The NLWC has two NCAA Champions in the bracket at 65 kg with No. 1 Zain Retherford and No. 6 Nick Lee. The two shouldn’t face each other unless Lee manages to pull off a few upsets to make the finals.

Although he’s not with the NLWC this time around, 2016 Olympian Frank Molinaro is also the seventh seed in the bracket. He’s currently wrestling with and coaching alongside Arizona State’s club. The winner of this weight class is not guaranteed to wrestle in the Olympic games and will still need to qualify at the World Olympic Qualifier in Sofia, Bulgaria, from May 6 to 9.

Two more Nittany Lions are in the 74 kg bracket with No. 1 Jason Nolf and No. 7 Vincenzo Joseph. Nolf will see either Logan Massa or recent NCAA Champion David Carr in the quarterfinals. Joseph will draw No. 2 Chance Marstellar in the first round, whom he lost to last weekend in the Last Chance Qualifier finals.

Former World Champion Kyle Dake has an automatic spot in the semifinals. The winner of the bracket will wrestle in a best-of-three series against former Olympic Gold medalist Jordan Burroughs.

The 86 kg weight class is loaded with Nittany Lions with No. 1 David Taylor, No. 6 Bo Nickal, No. 10 Aaron Brooks, and No. 11 Carter Starocci. While Brooks and Starocci are fresh off winning NCAA titles, they sit at the bottom of the bracket and will face some tough tests in their first Olympic Trials.

Brooks will draw a first-round matchup against No. 7 Nate Jackson, who eliminated Mark Hall last weekend for a spot in the tournament. Starocci will face teammate Bo Nickal in the first round. Taylor is the heavy favorite to represent the United States in Tokyo.

Kyle Snyder will await the winner of the 97 kg bracket in a best-of-three series. He’ll likely face off against another former World Champion J’den Cox, who has an automatic spot in the semifinals.

Penn State rounds out the freestyle tournament at 125 kg with Greg Kerkvliet holding the sixth seed. He’ll have a rematch in the quarterfinals with No. 3 Mason Paris, who beat him handily in the Big Ten quarterfinals earlier this year.

In the Greco-Roman tournament, Mason Manville and Ben Provisor will wrestle at 77 kg. They both will have first-round byes.

Additionally, Helen Maroulis and Jennifer Page will compete for the NLWC in women’s freestyle at 57 and 62 kg, respectively.

Friday’s action will be streamed on NBC Peacock and FloWrestling. Fans can also watch the Challenge Tournament finals Friday night and the best-of-three championship series Saturday night on NBCSN.

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About the Author

Max Tolson

Max is a senior majoring in print journalism. He hails from the small town of Millsboro, DE and loves to watch the Eagles and Penn State wrestling. Follow him on twitter @TolsonMax or send emails to [email protected]. Go Birds!

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