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March 17, 2017

Zain Retherford

Lavion Mayes

St. Louis, Missouri

THE MODERATOR: Next we have 149-pound finalist, Zain Retherford from Penn State.

ZAIN RETHERFORD: I don't have too much to say. Got done wrestling and it was a fun match. That's about all I have.

Q. Obviously, you're dominating this tournament but he did take you to a closer match this year. What did you learn from the match in Iowa City?
ZAIN RETHERFORD: Learned a lot. Tested me in front of his home crowd and that was an experience I will never forget. So just learning to be patient and also aggressive when I need to be, learning how to manage things better, my weight and everything, you know, just little things you pick up that. Okay, I better do it differently this time. Better change the way I've been doing the normal process. Always changing, always learning and staying patient. That's what I learned from that match.

Q. On the flip side, what did you take from last year at the NCAAs that you guys wrestled? You dominated that match. Did you take anything positive from that match?
ZAIN RETHERFORD: To be honest, I watched both those matches right before this match in my hotel room. Seeing what I did well and didn't do well, you know, correcting the mistakes. But, yeah, I felt great in my NCAA finals match last year, and I took a couple of points from that, into that match. Mainly the way I approached the match.

I felt way too emotionally drained during the season when we first wrestled. Last year in the finals I wrestled free, like I like to wrestle and I think I had more fun that way.

Q. Obviously that last position, that bow and arrow that's a near fall position. But did you feel like the fall was eminent or did that surprise you at all?
ZAIN RETHERFORD: I felt like I had a secure lock and I had his chin. There is a position where you're either getting back points or lacking for the fall, and I adjusted and as soon as I adjusted I felt -- I heard the ref say, 30 seconds, and I was like I think I have enough time to do it.

Q. When you think about the guys in your room, Molinaro and others, what's it like coming out here? Is it almost too easy for you when you have those guys in your room?
ZAIN RETHERFORD: Not at all. You're competing out here. You've got to show up every match. I love wrestling with those guys because you get so much better and you can pick up something new from each guy in the room, but you're the one that has to step out there and wrestle. It's definitely not easier. You get some good feels and you get some things from those guys, but you ultimately have to show up on that mat.

Q. Zain, what do you feel has been the most improvement in your wrestling from last year?
ZAIN RETHERFORD: Like I said, being more patient in my tie-ups and not really waiting for points to come, but, you know, not forcing anything. I think I force some stuff sometimes and even last year I got away with it at times. But it also caught up to me, too. So being patient and staying true to what I want to do.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Zain.

We're joined by be 149 finalist, Lavion Mayes from Missouri. We will start with an opening statement.

LAVION MAYES: Wait, I can say whatever I want? I'll be careful. What are things people normally say in this? I'm happy to be here. I've been wrestling the past 11 years of my life. This is somewhere where I never thought I would have been because I didn't know college wrestling existed when I first started. So it's kinda cool to be what a lot of people consider the pinnacle of wrestling. There's the Olympics, too, but how many people watch that? They watch beach volleyball or something. I guess that's my opening statement.

Q. Take us through the final sequence and how you were able to get the late takedown?
LAVION MAYES: Takedown, no score the first six minutes of the match. I was closer than he was and at that moment I said if I want to wrestle another minute I can just not shoot. If I want to be done now I can shoot, so I chose to shoot. He blocked it off pretty well, and I was able to hit a drag that I've kinda been working on all week.

I almost got it on him earlier in the match, but it didn't work out so well. But I stuck with the process and did what I've been training to do.

Q. Your old teammate, Drake, he won the final. Did you talk to him before this match?
LAVION MAYES: No, I'm going to call him. I'm going to -- that's good advice. I'm going to call Drake. He's down in Texas living his life away from wrestling. He's going to be here? I'm still going to call him. I'm going to call him.

Q. You and Max Thomsen having back and forth this year?
LAVION MAYES: It wasn't one and -- he's in our conference, so we meet up a couple times. They go to the scuffle. That's just like the way the sport is. The tough teams want to seek out tough commission and you and I as a team that wants to be in the top 10, top-5 and Schwab has made that perfectly clear. We know Coach Smith hates losing, so there is no hate of wanting to schedule each other. You got Big Ten schools that don't want to schedule other tough teams because the Big Ten schedule is so tough. The MAAC schedule is tough. The ACC is pretty tough. Other schools are not complaining about the toughness of schedule.

Q. You're getting ready to wrestle a guy who has dominated this tournament the last two years. What do you have to not do to avoid that from happening?
LAVION MAYES: Well, it's probably bad if I say this, I can be a man and wrestle. But that's assuming that other people haven't been men to wrestle. I don't know. One of the greatest pieces of advice I got was from Mark Ellis, he was our assistant coach my freshman year the year I redshirted at Mizzou. He was talking about getting off the bottom. If you were in prison and you let another guy hold you down for two minutes you know what happens. And it was like, you're right, I'm going to get out. That year was so rough for me on bottom, but that's the mantra that you need in this. That could be life or death and if you treat it like that you will find a way, so I will treat tomorrow like it is life or death and hopefully I find a way to come out on top.

Q. During that coach's challenge and shortly thereafter what were the thoughts going through your head?
LAVION MAYES: First thing I did I looked over at Coach Smith, and I was like, hey, I'm on TV! And then I asked him, is it going to be reversed? Being serious because I would have to put my head gear back on and get back in the zone and he was like, no, there is no way that wasn't 2. So at that point I was sitting there waiting. There is nothing to lose there. It's a questionable call. You want to challenge it at this point. Team points is big, allowing your kid to be in the finals is a real big accomplishment, and I'm proud of Schwab to challenge it. Even if it wasn't as big as a lot of people think it was. He wants to give his wrestlers the opportunity to get the best opportunity while they're here.

Q. On television you talked about your fans. What's it been like to go through the two days with the Tiger faithful?
LAVION MAYES: Day one I didn't look at the crowds because I wanted to get in and out of here. I've been wrestling a long time. Sometimes you don't want to be around it. If you are having a bad day and you want to get out of it. Today I recognized the crowd and showed them that I'm thank for their support. It's so much better. There is no knocks to Oklahoma City or New York, but it being in St. Louis especially the year that we were ranked No. 1 coming in, it was a great feeling. We had the whole state on our back. This year we're not ranked No. 1. So we don't have the entirety of the state here like we did two years ago, but the fans here are, I'm pretty sure they're delighted watching Joey pick them up and pin them and Jaydin doing Jaydin things.

Q. How much people, relatives do you have here? What would it mean to cap your resume, college resume with a National Championship?
LAVION MAYES: I mean, okay, so I can't give you an exact number because I saw my uncle this morning and I didn't think he was coming. I mean, you know, you could probably estimate relatives, probably about six or seven. That's my real close family. I'm graduating in two months with an Electrical Engineering degree, so my family is choosing to go to graduation instead of this. It's a smart thing. I think graduating college with an EE degree is a lot better than winning a national title.

That being said, I only have, you know, this last match now in a Missouri singlet, and thinking about it is sobering. But I can't compete collegiately anymore after this. So in this moment right now winning the national title is going to be more important. If you hit me up in three or four years I will be like, yeah, that was a fun time in my life. But I've got two little kids now, and I'm trying to pay bills and I got taxes and it's whatever you put into it. Right now I'm putting a lot into it, so hopefully I find a way not to be disappointed after this weekend.

THE MODERATOR: That do it for Lavion.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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