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March 17, 2018

Zain Retherford

Cleveland, Ohio


THE MODERATOR: We're joined by the 2018 NCAA Division I champion at 149 pounds, Zain Retherford, from Penn State. Questions?

Q. Zain, obviously it was a big night for you, winning the third, but obviously it was a little doubt at the end of that second period or whatever it was. Your feelings there, what was happening?
ZAIN RETHERFORD: Yeah, I wrestle freestyle too, so me kind of going to my back there is not something that I normally do in that situation. Freestyle that would be four points for him.

I think that just comes from wrestling with guys like Nolf who are funky. He kind of (indiscernible) sometimes, and picking up things off him even though I never worked that. But working with Nolf and that kind of stuff definitely helps.

Q. Your third title. Put it in perspective with your previous two.
ZAIN RETHERFORD: This year, the only difference was I knew that was the last time I was going to wear the singlet. I said it before, but just kind of making the most of this opportunity. Just as nervous as I was the first time doing this. That doesn't go away. I think it was definitely fun and it's kind of sad this is the last time I'm wearing this.

Q. Last year you started off, Penn State won five straight national championships. If you were to put this in perspective for how this could portray the outcome for this national championship, what would you say?
ZAIN RETHERFORD: How this would portray the outcome?

Q. Yes, for the future.
ZAIN RETHERFORD: I don't know, I think regardless of how I did out there, I think the rest of the four are going to wrestle the way they that they're going to wrestle. Last year we had some momentum, going five for five, but I don't know if -- I don't know if that's just coincidence or what.

But I truly believe that these guys, they've been in tough dual meets and plenty, been tested plenty of times. They'll do the right thing regardless whether the first guy before them wins or not.

Q. Could you put the rest of your career in perspective? You're a pretty stoic guy. Were you ever emotional today? And people are wondering, are you the best ever to come out of Penn State? Your thoughts on that.
ZAIN RETHERFORD: I don't know. That's definitely -- I felt a lot of emotions today for sure. I know my heart was racing all last night and pretty much all today. So I took a walk in the sun and went and saw the lake a little bit, just to get my mind off of things. But definitely emotions are going and you gotta kind of relax. That's what makes this tournament different.

Best at Penn State, I've never really thought of things like that, really. I know I had a lot of guys look up to coming up through David Taylor is here watching. And Ed Ruth was another guy that I looked up to. Matt Brown.

I think Penn State has had a ton of great talent and just continuing. We've got a lot of young guys that are doing good things. I'm excited.

Q. Talk about just how -- what it takes to be so consistent and so dominant over such a long period of time? I don't know what the win streak was, but it was really long. Talk about just the consistency in dominating in a day-to-day aspect and what that looks like.
ZAIN RETHERFORD: It's not easy to come in every day, give your best. You're going to have performances where you don't feel your best, but you just gotta roll with it. That's part of this sport. So, I don't know, I've had times where I haven't felt great and just pushed through. So I don't think, just feeling your best or not, you've gotta do the best with what you have in front of you.

Q. How do you want people to remember you?
ZAIN RETHERFORD: In the grand scheme of things it doesn't really matter to me. I hope people were excited to watch me wrestle. I hope they enjoyed watching. I hope I was fun. But at the end of the day I can't control that. So it's not really a thought that goes on in my mind, although I just stick to the values, I guess, that I hold true to myself and everything else is kind of outside of my control.

Q. Can I take you back to your true freshman year when you beat Logan Stieber in that dual meet. What did that do for your career? Is that when you made your name like these two freshmen are tonight?
ZAIN RETHERFORD: That was when people were coming up before me the dual meet and saying, don't give up bonus points, don't get pinned, don't get teched. So a true freshmen wrestling a guy like that, you don't know what to expect.

I think that was one of those matches I felt my best. There was no expectation at all. People were just expecting me not to give up bonus. That's saying something about how good he was.

But, yeah, I don't know, I see a lot of young guys doing that this weekend not really caring about what the seed is or who they're wrestling, so that's great for the sport. That pushes the seniors and that gets these young guys excited. That's what makes it fun to watch.

Q. You talk about push at each other. Can you talk -- how does being in that room and feeding off of each other kind of make each other better in the long run?
ZAIN RETHERFORD: I mean, a lot of ways wrestling, obviously, that's easy. Iron kind of sharpens iron and the good guys in the room but also the backups have a lot of things to offer, a lot of different techniques from all over the country.

I'll pick anyone's brain who has something good to offer. I think everyone really does in our room. So that's awesome. And socially, you get to interact with these guys and the coaching staff. Just all around you can pick up little things in different areas. It's pretty fun.


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