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March 19, 2016

Zain Retherford

New York, New York

THE MODERATOR: Coming into the room is the 149-pound NCAA champion, Zain Retherford, from Penn State. A statement about your match tonight.

ZAIN RETHERFORD: It's just starting to set in right now. Just got done about two minutes ago. It's awesome. That's all I can say about it. It was awesome.

Q. The amount of pressure, energy, heat you put on people is literally unprecedented. It's historic. How are you able to just keep that energy level, the pressure, and just the amount of just intensity you put upon people, the energy, how are you able to do that and do you train for this every day?
ZAIN RETHERFORD: Yeah, definitely I train for this every day. I have a great coaching staff and great opponents that push me every day. We've got five guys in the finals and I wrestle every one of them. And even the guys that aren't out there wrestling right now, they're back home, second, third string guys, they work hard. They push me in summer training, go on runs and stuff and just push each other to get better. We have fun in the process, that's a big part.

Q. You've been a cadet world freestyle champion and you just qualified for the Olympic Trials. Are you anticipating you'll be in Iowa City, and what are your goals for that event if you do go?
ZAIN RETHERFORD: Yeah, I 100 percent want to go to that. I don't know how many people get a chance to wrestle in it, so I'm definitely going to do that. And every tournament I enter, I want to win. So that's my mindset.

Q. Just to build on, you said having fun. You were crushing some watermelons and stuff in the offseason. How many watermelons did you crush to get this championship?
ZAIN RETHERFORD: Well, I live on a pumpkin farm in Benton, Pennsylvania, and some of the watermelons there are harder, but I picked them up from the grocery store. The record was three but I cheated, loosened up a little bit. But the first one was definitely the hardest. It was dense, it looked small but it was dense. It was a lot of fun. It was fun.

Q. What are the reasons, the main reasons in your mind for your program's dominance over the last six years?
ZAIN RETHERFORD: What are my thoughts about it?

Q. Why?
ZAIN RETHERFORD: Why? Just because I think we have a great mindset with our team. The coaches are great at making sure that the guys are confident and having fun. That's a big part of it. You're not just robots or running into brick walls. We're having fun doing stuff. We play dodgeball with the coaches, it's a lot of fun. Play handball most days in practice. It's light but they keep it competitive.

Q. We talked earlier this year about the changes you made and constantly with your hands on people's heads and moving guys around. When you and Cael decided to make that change, did you realize that it was going to turn you into this caliber of wrestler?
ZAIN RETHERFORD: No, I just -- you can't look that far ahead. I'm just enjoying every day and every moment I'm grateful for every second I can be out on that mat. And today was a lot of fun.

Q. When you're wrestling somebody that you just recently defeated, how does that affect your mindset going into the match and his mindset? Do you want to do something even different than you did in the Big Ten?
ZAIN RETHERFORD: Yeah, I mean I gotta a feel for him in the Big Ten. Hasn't wrestled him folkstyle before. Getting a feel on guys for the first time, you kind of know their tendencies a bit. I knew some of them before going into this match today. But I think, to answer your question, his mindset. I don't know what his mindset was. I've been in that position before where I lost to somebody, had to wrestle them again. You can't go in with any emotion or else you're going to get tired. And I think that's the mindset you've got to take. And if you've already defeated a guy once before, you've got to show up because you know he's gunning for you the second time.

Q. You're a world champion. And you say you're not talking about looking ahead too far. But clearly this has got to follow the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club path eventually. Are you more focused on winning three NCAA titles or Olympic gold. Where does the focus go from here, where's the prioritization within the staff?
ZAIN RETHERFORD: It's both. When it's folkstyle season it's folkstyle season. We're thinking the guys competing, national title that's what we want. And you try to keep your goals realistic with your actions. I'm doing the right things and I'm just doing what I want to do, I'm doing the right things to achieve my goal, try to stay focused. And that focus carries over to the freestyle season. When it's freestyle, we're also thinking about the folkstyle season a little bit for the guys who don't train freestyle, but definitely a switch of gears.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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