2024 Olympic Trials Watch Party

2024 Olympic Wrestling Trials Preview & Predictions: Men's Freestyle 65 kg

2024 Olympic Wrestling Trials Preview & Predictions: Men's Freestyle 65 kg

A full preview with predictions for the 65 kg weight class at the upcoming Olympic Wrestling Trials.

Apr 12, 2024 by JD Rader

The wrestling Olympic Trials are set to go down in State College, Pennsylvania April 19-20. 65 kg is one of the most intriguing brackets as almost everyone in the bracket has a legitimate shot at winning. Check out the article below for a full preview and predictions of the 65 kg field at the Trials.

History Of The US 65 kg spot

2023: Nick Lee (7th at Worlds)

2022: Yiani Diakomihalis (silver at Worlds)

2021 (Worlds): Yianni Diakomihalis (dnp at Worlds)

2021: (Olympics): Jordan Oliver (did not qualify the weight)

2019: Zain Retherford (dnp at Worlds)

2018: Logan Stieber (dnp at Worlds)

2017: Zain Retherford (dnp at Worlds)

2016: Frank Molinaro (5th at Olympics)

Potential Seeds

*Zain Retherford sitting in the semifinals as a 2023 World Medalist at a non-Olympic weight

Nick Lee

  1. Yianni Diakomihalis
  2. Andrew Alirez
  3. James Green
  4. Beau Bartlett
  5. Joey McKenna
  6. Kaleb Larkin
  7. Jesse Mendez
  8. Seth Gross
  9. Matt Kolodzik
  10. Alec Pantaleo
  11. Nahshon Garrett

Jon Kozak is the predictor of his seeds and in his words, “65 kg might be the most challenging seeds to predict of any weight class due to recent results. Joey McKenna is the wrestler who makes things difficult because of his win over Yianni Diakomihalis overseas in November but his loss to Beau Bartlett in December at Senior Nationals. Because of that loss, I chose to put McKenna behind Bartlett. I also keep Yianni as the #2 seed for making Final X in 2023 and for his world silver medal in 2022.”

You can read his full reasoning for his seed predictions at every weight HERE.

Potential Bracket

Why This Bracket Is Extra Important

Team USA hasn’t qualified 65 kg yet for the Paris Olympics. Meaning, the winner of this bracket isn’t guaranteed to wrestle in the Olympics. They will have to go to Istanbul, Turkey, May 9-12 and place top three in what will be a deep field of international competition.

The US was in the same situation in 2021 when Jordan Oliver won the bracket. He was unable to finish high enough at the Last Chance Qualifier and the US did not compete at 65 kg in Tokyo.

Every Wrestler’s Record Against Eachother + The Field

The wrestlers are listed in the far left column with their records against opponents in a row going horizontally.

wrestler ⬇️ opponent ➡️Nick LeeYianni DiakomihalisAndrew AlirezJames GreenBeau BartlettJoey McKennaKaleb LarkinJesse MendezSeth GrossMatt KolodzikAlec PantaleoNahshon GarrettThe Field
Zain Retherford0-12-20-01-00-01-10-00-00-00-02-00-06-4
Nick Lee
Yianni Diakomihalis0-3
Andrew Alirez0-00-0
James Green0-00-30-0
Beau Bartlett0-10-00-10-0
Joey McKenna1-13-30-11-00-1
Kaleb Larkin0-00-00-00-00-00-0
Jesse Mendez0-00-00-00-00-00-00-1
Seth Gross0-00-00-00-00-00-20-01-0
Matt Kolodzik0-20-00-00-01-20-10-00-00-1
Alec Pantaleo0-00-00-11-30-00-00-00-00-10-1
Nahshon Garrett0-10-00-00-00-00-10-00-03-00-00-0

Quick Synopsis On Every Wrestler

Nick Lee: Won the World Team spot last year, but has not come close to separating himself from the field.

Yianni Diakomihalis: Proved he could get it done internationally more than anyone in this bracket when they're at 65 kg when he won World silver in 2022, but Nick Lee is his kryptonite. 

Andrew Alirez: Beat Beau Bartlett 8-0 at the Olympic Trials. Absolutely a title contender.

James Green: A USA Wrestling legend, but has never been able to be the same at 65 kg as he was at 70 kg. Will his new hip give him the ability to beat both the scale and Father Time?

Beau Bartlett: Literally got his hand raised against Nick Lee at the US Open a couple of months before Nick Lee won the World Team spot last summer.

Joey McKenna: Has never been able to string enough wins together to win the World/Olympic Team spot, but is the only guy in the field with wins over Lee, Yianni, and Green.

Kaleb Larkin: Young but extremely talented. Beat Jesse Mendez and teched Matt Kolodzik to win gold at the 2023 Bill Farrell.

Jesse Mendez: Absolute dog. Coming off of a win over Beau Bartlett in the NCAA finals, I know he expects to win this bracket.

Seth Gross: VERY tricky wrestler, but best suited for 61 kg where he won the World Team spot in 2022.

Matt Kolodzik: Always know that you’re going to get a good scrap from him. Just hasn’t been able to beat the top guys at this weight class.

Alec Pantaleo: 65 kg is extremely tough for him to make. If he can do it effectively, he’s a title threat.

Nahshon Garrett: Absolute wildcard. You never know what Nahshon you’re going to get. The best version of him can beat anyone. The worst can get tech falled by anyone. Just enjoy the ride.

Why I’m Picking Zain Retherford

Zain Retherford has a massive advantage over everyone else because he gets to sit until the semifinals. He earned this right by winning a World title last summer at 70 kg. He has shown progress throughout at senior level career, going from making the World Team but not placing to silver in 2022 to gold in 2023. 

That being said, the move up to 70 kg played a huge role in that. 70 kg is without a doubt his best weight class. He hasn’t made 65 kg (outside of any private simulations) since the Olympic Trials in 2021 where he lost to Joey McKenna on the front side and Nick Lee on the backside. Not ideal, but I believe Retherford to be a disciplined professional. He also will weigh in at 7:30 am and not have to wrestle 6:30 pm on Friday. If he wins, Saturday will be a much bigger challenge as 65 kg will wrestle the first two matches in the best of three series just two hours after weigh-ins.

Top 4 Prediction

  1. Zain Retherford
  2. Nick Lee
  3. Yianni Diakomihalis
  4. Andrew Alirez

It’s really tough to predict this bracket without knowing the seeds for certain. After Retherford, the top side has a huge advantage over the bottom side. Andrew Alirez is the #3 seed but his path would be Joey McKenna, Yianni Diakomihalis, and then Zain Retherford JUST TO MAKE IT TO THE FINALS. That’s insane. 

Nick Lee is probably a lock at the #1 seed, so he’s who I’m most confident in next. Don’t sleep on James Green making a run to the finals if he gets the four seed though.

Yianni got the #3 because no one has been more of a staple at this weight the past quad than him. He’s earned our respect and attention.

With all that being said, almost everyone in the bracket has the ability to beat anyone else in the bracket if they wrestle their best, and we’ve seen chaos at this weight in the past. Frank Molinaro was the #9 seed in 2016 and no one was giving him a chance.