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March 16, 2018

Ronald Perry

Hayden Hidlay

Jason Nolf

Zain Retherford

Cleveland, Ohio



Q. Ronald, how many people from Lock Haven believed you would be a finalist?
RONALD PERRY: Maybe three, three or four. Me, my coaches, so that's three. Maybe my parents, my girlfriend, a couple friends. Actually I think more than I thought maybe.

Q. Try to put into words -- I know it's got to be difficult, but try to put into words what you're going through right now mentally. You're an NCAA finalist coming in as a 15 seed. I think they just announced over the loudspeaker that's unprecedented. Try to put into words what you're going through.
RONALD PERRY: I mean, I'm just trying to let it settle in right now. It's an amazing feeling, something I never thought I would feel to be honest. So kind of this year, it was definitely something that was a goal of mine. But it's pretty crazy right now. I don't think it's going to get super real until tomorrow maybe. But I'm just trying to do my best to stay relaxed and stay focused and go one match at a time.

Q. It seems like obviously it wasn't like you had an easy road to the finals. Talk through each individual match or how you prepared after having such big wins, being able to come off that emotional high and come back into your next match and compete again.
RONALD PERRY: I think the main thing as far as the wrestling part was just staying relaxed. I think a couple times this year during the season I got nervous because I put that pressure on myself, and sometimes I don't always deal with that well. Coming into it, I didn't have anything to lose compared to the guys I was wrestling that's actually other previous all-Americans. I don't have anything to lose. I never did it before. So it was staying relaxed. After getting those big wins, just going back to the hotel, turning my phone off a little bit and just relaxing because you get a lot of stuff happening on Twitter, all the social media sites. So it was important for me to kind of set my phone aside and relax a little bit and get ready for the next match.

Q. Can you walk us through the last 30 seconds of that match? For a second there it looked a little dicey for you, but you were able to turn it on at the right time.
RONALD PERRY: Yeah, I forget how I gave up the late takedown. I don't know, I think I just -- it was a feeling -- because it went from me feeling like I was going to get a takedown to getting taken down, so that was kind of frustrating. We went out of bounds there right next to my coaches, and they just hey wanted me to -- what else am I going to do at that point. I tried to get right back up and he got caught with that leg in, so that was tough.

But I just kept wrestling and stuck to my game plan the whole time, which is kind of move, stay outside. He's a good hand fighter, and I know he's real hard to finish on. He's a tough kid to finish on, especially with his legs. I knew I needed to get something that was going to be clean and a quick finish, so that's what we did.

Q. Talk about the mentality in the Lock Haven locker room, and talk about the feeling you guys had when you won EWLs.
RONALD PERRY: I think the mentality has gone -- it's getting better every year. Guys are now expecting for us to win, which was not always there to begin with. When we got there, it was like, cool, you got a big win today, but no one was expecting those big wins, and I think lately it's been all right, we're here to show up and wrestle and get it done.

Winning the EWL Championship was awesome because it had never happened in 20-something years, so that was really good. It's good for the program as a whole, getting recruits in and getting donors and a bunch of stuff like that. So it was really cool as far as the team to accomplish that, especially with the group of guys we have. Everybody is so fun to be around.

Q. This will be the third time you've done this. Any emotionally different tonight thinking about the finals than the previous two?
ZAIN RETHERFORD: No, I think before that match I think I was kind of pacing out there in the center. I was just thinking, this is my second-to-last full style match I'll ever get to wrestle in a Penn State singlet. Just making the most of it, so I think that's the only thing that's been different is kind of being aware of this is my last go-around, but at the same time just kind of going with it for that reason.

Q. You've been so dominant over the past couple seasons. Do you ever feel like wrestlers are just trying to keep it close as opposed to winning against you?
ZAIN RETHERFORD: Yeah, I've felt that before in matches, but you know what, I think the biggest thing is just maintaining your composure when those things happen. Regardless if they're trying to shut down for the entire match or just trying to shut down a move that you do well, I think that happens.

Q. With the open mat, as a team you're chasing Ohio State and you're seeing them have some struggles. Are you looking at the scoreboard as you go out there to see what you have to do, or is it all about you at this point?
ZAIN RETHERFORD: Yeah, I think when you start thinking about the score too much or things that are outside of your control, you start competing worse. We're just focused on what we can do for the team. Each guy, the best that they can do for the team at the moment is what they can do out on the mat for seven minutes. So that's what we're focused on, not really what's going on around us.

Q. Last year you guys obviously had one heck of a tournament, put five guys in the finals and then go five for five. Talk about what that means, talk about that momentum that's started for Penn State it seems like.
ZAIN RETHERFORD: Yeah, I mean, I know Nick Lee got me going that first round. He started off first, and you've got the all-American round, and he's moving on. I didn't really feel that this year because Nick Lee's kind of been there to be a guy to get things going if things aren't going well initially. But I don't know, I haven't really felt that at all this year to be honest. Nick Lee has kind of done his job.

Q. It's going to be Penn State versus State College, Lock Haven. That's kind of neat that you're going to face Ronny Perry, kind of a battle of Pennsylvania wrestlers.
ZAIN RETHERFORD: Yeah, this past summer, Lock Haven would come to our room and wrestle some freestyle with the club, the guys that were eligible through USA wrestling. So I wrestled a few times with Ronny when he came this summer. I know he's excited, so it'll be fun.

Q. You are one pin away from getting the all-time record at Penn State. Is that kind of going through your head or not really?
ZAIN RETHERFORD: No, no, I mean, like I said, I guess that one is kind of within my control if I go and get a pin. But at the same time, I've wrestled matches where my goal is to get a pin, and I've kind of exhausted myself because it's pretty exhausting when you're just forcing things that aren't there. Just taking each match as it comes, and it's not really a thought in my mind. My thought is enjoy this last match, enjoy this time as a team. This is the last one.

Q. Jason, would you say that that's one of your most dominating performances perhaps in your career?
JASON NOLF: Some may say that, more on top. Not necessarily breaking on my feet, but more than normal, but got to do what you've got to do sometimes.

Q. I know you've downplayed the knee and all, but does it prevent you from doing what you used to do before you hurt it?

Q. You went through that power half over and over again. Did you scout that or was it something that presented itself and you went back to it again and again?
JASON NOLF: It's just something that presented itself. I knew that I could do good on top, so I was pretty confident in my top game today, and it just worked out.

Q. I know you're very particular when you put your ankle bands down. Is there a reason behind that?
JASON NOLF: I don't know, I just did it one day, I guess, and I kept doing it. It's a lot neater than just throwing them around.

Q. You've got Hidlay in the finals, another Pennsylvania guy. Are you familiar with him at all?
JASON NOLF: I wrestled him a couple times when we were younger. Not really familiar. I know he's a good wrestler, and he's strong and holds (indiscernible) well, so just got to work on getting to what I do.

Q. What's the plan look like going from now to tomorrow night in the NCAA finals, and how are you getting prepared and getting relaxed and getting away --
JASON NOLF: Just doing the same thing I've been doing.

Q. Talk us through the six-point move you hit in the first period, and what that does for you getting a lead like that early?
HAYDEN HIDLAY: Well, early in the match I tried underhooking and he wasn't baiting for it. I think he scouted a little bit and didn't want anything to do with it. But I changed a little bit and went with a shot first and then kind of transitioned into upper body. I was in a position where he hit some guys before in a hip toss, and he went for it, and I kind of switched my hips and reversed it on him. I have a Greco background, and I don't mind throwing guys, so it was there. My coach just said, be aggressive. If you see something big, go for it.

Q. Hayden, I know you expected to be here, but how does it feel to be in the finals?
HAYDEN HIDLAY: Feels incredible. I think the atmosphere was more than I could ever dream of, just being out there and -- when we were on a restart, I couldn't hear the whistle one time because I think Nolf was turning a guy on the other mat, but I kind of just let the guy react first and then I went into his move. But great atmosphere, just really thankful to be here.

Q. Growing up as close as you did to State College, there's a lot of people in Mifflin County that as you ponder rankings this year anticipated this matchup. How long ago did you anticipate being in the finals against Nolf?
HAYDEN HIDLAY: I think last year whenever I was sitting at home watching the Nationals, I was on a redshirt so I didn't come with the team. I was just sitting in my apartment visualizing myself being here, and I think once I beat Lavallee earlier this year who made it to the national finals, I'm going to go forward and go after the top guy.

Q. You talked about growing up 30 miles from Penn State. Did you grow up a Penn State fan?
HAYDEN HIDLAY: Yeah, I think it's going to sound strange to people, but probably up until I was about 16 years old, I had season tickets to the Penn State wrestling matches. That's kind of crazy to think about now. Once the recruiting process started opening up, I went my separate way from Penn State just because they were pretty full at that weight class at the time. I started looking at other schools, and I got attached to NC State, and I was sold on the message of you come to NC State, you're going to compete against Iowa, Penn State, Oklahoma State every year, and we want you to be a part of that.

Q. You're following up what was a really strong redshirt freshman campaign with what is an incredible freshman campaign. Talk about your decision last year to take that year, and then just going into this year what that gave you knowing how well you wrestled as a redshirt.
HAYDEN HIDLAY: Well, when I talked to Pat and the rest of the coaching staff, they had it pretty set in stone that my plan was going to be to redshirt, learn from older guys in the room, people like Pete Renda, Tommy Gantt, Kevin Jack, be around those guys, kind of soak in how they work and what their competitive drive is, and then whenever I was able to take the stage this year. I was going to be able to have the same results that they've had in the past. It obviously has paid off.

I took some lumps in the redshirt year, I think I had a couple losses, but just the training day in and day out and you didn't get to see as much competition, that was really hard for me. So I was able to learn a lot from that and take the next step into the scene this year.

Q. I know you're focused on yourself, but when you look up at the team score, you see NC State in fifth place right now, I believe. That's got to feel pretty good.
HAYDEN HIDLAY: Absolutely. I think just the whole process that we've been taught since my day one here with the class that was brought in by Pat and all the other coaches, they told us that we were going to be in moments like this, and they wanted us to lead the charge. So thankfully I've had really great leadership from seniors like Pete Renda, Kevin Jack, and Michael Macchiavello, this new wave of us, we're running to the top five and we want to compete for a team trophy.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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