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March 18, 2017

Zain Retherford

St. Louis, Missouri

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by 149-pound national champion Zain Retherford.

ZAIN RETHERFORD: Same story as last night. Just got done with the match so kind of winded but not much to say. But thanks for being here.

Q. So much output. It's unbelievable the amount of pressure and heat you put on people. How do you sustain that through five matches at the NCAA Tournament and just make guys absolutely not want to be on the mat with you? And how much of that is the culture of Penn State wrestling? And you're the face of it right now. How much of that is culture, coaching and what you guys are doing with all the pressure and output?
ZAIN RETHERFORD: It's what we do every day in our room, have fun with it, compete hard, and learn. So it's hard to show up in practice and be a different person than match day, just being that same person consistently every day. I think that's what happens.

Q. You were taken down first.

Q. You were unfazed by that. Talk about how you were able to bounce back and not only win but just dominate the rest of the match, despite the open takedown.
ZAIN RETHERFORD: Not really getting down on myself. I've been taken down before. I was feeling kind of nervous a little bit, but more excited nervous. So that's the signal it's go time. It's national finals, let's go. So, yeah, just focusing on keep scoring after that point, doesn't matter.

Q. You mostly dominated every opponent this year except for a couple of times, but you're always talking about not only having fun but getting better. How do you evaluate if you're getting better in competition when you do that to a guy?
ZAIN RETHERFORD: Just making sure my mind's set every time. Everyone gives up points here and there, gets put in a situation that we're put in. So just embrace it and deal with the hand you're given and just keep rolling.

Q. You really mauled everybody last year, maybe one close match -- you had the Collica match and the Sorensen match. Did those help you start to build this national tournament, this Zain Pain Train, just drowning people into fodder, a tournament like you did?
ZAIN RETHERFORD: Yeah, those two matches taught me a lot. They were close matches. And I got scored on in the Iowa match a couple times. But I learned a lot from them. Learned to be patient. Learned to keep learning, keep trying new things.

A couple of the moves I had out there I had to, they kind of go with what I already do, but just making small adjustments and being willing to learn and grow.

Q. When you talk about all these nicknames that's been given to you, and there used to be a time when guys would have roles or whatever, moves named after them. Would you like something like that named after you? And what makes that so unique?
ZAIN RETHERFORD: Something like what?

Q. The Bo and Arrow --
ZAIN RETHERFORD: Oh, that move has been around for a while. I can't take credit for that.

Q. Anything unique about it?
ZAIN RETHERFORD: Not too much. I take a couple of things from our coaches, you know, how -- it's like a freestyle move. You keep rolling with it. So it's not usually a pain combination. But making that adjustment to the turn to getting the pain was something I picked up from our coaching staff and I've kind of made some adjustments to make it mine.

Q. You were third in the Olympic trials last spring. Are you going to go back and do some freestyle here? Obviously the number one guy is in your workout room, too. Talk about your goals now that you're done with the college season?
ZAIN RETHERFORD: I love freestyle wrestling. I think wrestling is wrestling. So it doesn't really matter. Take some time off. Whatever the coaches think is ideal then get ready for the freestyle season. Those are my goals. See how far I can go with that kind of stuff. I really like freestyle.

Q. I do have to ask you about the Hodge Trophy that will be announced soon. Your thoughts about that.
ZAIN RETHERFORD: I think, I kind of wanted to be honest, I wanted to win last year. So I think not getting it, Alex Dieringer, a very worthy guy to receive the award, very tough competitor. But obviously you want to win that. And that was out of my control.

So after realizing that last year, after I didn't get it, I really didn't put too much weight on it this year. It would be an honor to get it. But, like I said, that's out of my control.

So I just do whatever I can out there, score points, not let that make me nervous or anything like that. But it would be awesome to get it for sure.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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