The Last Guy JO Wants To See: Zain Retherford

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Our first installment of "who they don't want to see" at the World Team Trials will focus on 65kg. The concept takes a guy sitting in Saturday's finals in Lincoln, NE, (in this case Jordan Oliver) and hypothesizes on the worst possible matchup for him that could come out of the challenge bracket. Oliver earned the reward of sitting out by winning the 2017 U.S. Open, where he went through both Zain Retherford and Frank Molinaro to win the title.

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Before we dive into who JO doesn't want to see, let's take a look at the key players who have left this weight in just the last year: Aaron Pico, Brent Metcalf, Logan Stieber, James Green, Reece Humphrey, Jimmy Kennedy, and Jayson Ness.  
 
Knowing this, there are just a few wrestlers who can present a challenge to Oliver. Frank Molinaro without a doubt has the best international credentials, but he's O-fer against Oliver, failing to get his hand raised in each match against the Oklahoma State legend.
 
So the obvious answer for the last guy JO wants to see is Zain Retherford. With Zain, it's a combination of "if not him, then who?" and the style matchup.  Throw out the controversy of their U.S. Open match, who cares? Look at how the match played out: Retherford controlled the center well and got to the legs of Oliver, who was otherwise kept off Retherford's legs. After a few adjustments, it's easy to see how Zain can win.


 
The challenge for the Hodge Trophy winner will be both navigating the challenge tournament, getting by his former coach Frank Molinaro and still having enough in the tank to win 2 of 3 against a bigger, rested, and potentially more skilled Oliver. Though the task is daunting, positioning and strength for Retherford will not wane throughout the day. It can be done, and you best believe as far as JO is concerned, Zain presents the most difficult matchup stylistically.

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