Pennsylvania Falls Short of 2016 Olympic Bid

Pennsylvania Wrestling will not be represented in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. While it is disappointing, nothing should be taken away from the ten wrestlers who competed in the 2016 Olympic Team Trials. Cover photo of David Taylor scoring a takedown on Jake Herbert by John Sachs of

Four of the ten Pennsylvania wrestlers who competed are currently college students with many more years of competition yet to go. On the flip side three wrestlers may have competed in their final Olympic Team Trials.

North Carolina head coach and 2012 Olympic Bronze Medalist Coleman Scott (Waynesburg Central) had his hopes of a second trip to the Olympic Games dashed in the 57 KG semifinals. The 29 year old grappler was unable to get by former Iowa Hawkeye Tony Ramos despite having the lead early. After a tech-fall in the quarterfinals over Joe Colon the former 3x PIAA State Champion met top seed Ramos.

Scott started the match strong controlling the tempo and earning a passivity point early. He ended the first period collecting a push out point to go up (2-0). Ramos rebounded in the second period and countered a Scott attempt catching him off balance to tie the match (2-2). Going back up to their feet Ramos brought in a single leg of his own increasing his lead to (4-2). Scott was relentless in the final moments of the match scoring a takedown as time expired. With the bout tied (4-4) Scott appeared to believe he had won the match throwing his hands into the air. Soon after, however, it became clear that Tony Ramos was the victor as he had more takedowns (2-1). Following his defeat Scott forfeited out in the consolation round.

Also competing at 57 KG was 2016 NCAA National Champion Nico Megaludis (Franklin Regional / Penn State). The 4x NCAA All-American drew his rival Nathan Tomasello (Ohio State). The 2015 NCAA National Champion outlasted Nico (4-3) sending him into the consolation round. There Megaludis faced fellow 2016 NCAA National Champion Nahshon Garrett (Cornell). Winning the NCAA Title at 133 lbs. Nahshon dropped to 57 KG for the Trials and nearly upset Tony Ramos in the Championship Quarterfinals falling (3-3) in a controversial match. The National Champions are no strangers to each other and Nahshon got the best of Megaludis winning (4-3) to eliminate the PA Star.

At 65 KG two Pennsylvania wrestlers competed as Jordan Oliver (Easton Area / Oklahoma State) received the #2 seed. After a bye in the first round Oliver met teenager Aaron Pico (California) who has been one of the most widely known names in the Wrestling World. Oliver jumped out to a quick start going up (3-0) on Pico. The two then exchanged a series of points and as the match drew to a close it appeared Oliver gas tank was close to empty. Pico was able to secure a takedown in the final moments of the match and claim the victory (13-9). Oliver showed signs of percision in the match utilizing his slickness to gain the advantage from their feet. In the end Pico wrestled well when it mattered. After the defeat Oliver defaulted in the consolation round.

One of the bright spots on Pennsylvania’s 2016 Olympic Team Trials was 2016 NCAA Champion Zain Retherford. The redshirt sophomore had one heck of a Tournament and showed that he will be a force to reckon with in the future. Four years ago Zain competed in the Cadet World Freestyle Championships at 63 KG and won a World Title. Four years from now in 2020 Zain could be a serious threat to not only become and Olympian but even an Olympic Medalist.

In the first round Zain upset fourth seed and World Bronze Medalist James Green with an impressive (9-2) victory. In the quarterfinals Retherford took on his old BIG10 rival Logan Steiber (Ohio State) and despite jumping out to an early advantage the 4x NCAA National Champion stormed back to win (8-6). It was Retherford’s performance in the consolation round that stood out the most. The 2x PIAA State Champion pulled out quality wins over Jason Chamberlain and Jayson Ness. After receiving a forfeit against Reece Humphreys in the consolation semifinals Zain took on 27 year old Jimmy Kennedy for third place. Kennedy has a ton of International Freestyle experience and entered the Trials seeded third. To put it in perspective Kennedy defeated Logan Steiber in the consolation semifinals by a score of (10-3). In the third place bout Retherford held on to win a tight (2-2) bout over Kennedy and end his first Olympic Trials in third place.

Three Pennsylvania Wrestlers competed at 86 KG and all three left Iowa City with a sour taste. No one could have predicted the unbelievable run made by Missouri’s 2x NCAA National Champion J’Den Cox at 86 KG. Olympian Jake Herbert (North Allegheny / Northwestern) entered what may be his last Olympic Trials as the top seed but was upset by Cox in the quarterfinals (8-1). 3x NCAA National Champion Ed Ruth opened his round with a (10-0) tech-fall over Deron Winn before meeting fellow PA Native Keith Gavin. The 30 year old Gavin racked up 15 points in a (15-8) victory over Ruth advancing into the semifinals. Instead of meeting Herbert like many expected Gavin took on J’Den Cox. Despite being the more experienced Freestyle wrestler Gavin was unable to work his offense from the 2-on-1 and fell to Cox (3-1).

Jake Herbert fought back in the consolation round despite missing his second trip to the Olympics and defeated two former NCAA National Champions, Tyler Caldwell and Jon Reader, before meeting David Taylor in the consolation semifinals. There the former Penn State grappler picked up a shut-out tech-fall over Herbert (10-0). It was a bitter end to a roller coaster ride over the last four years. Like Herbert, Keith Gavin faced David Taylor when the two faced off in the consolation finals. Also like Herbert David Taylor picked up a tech-fall over Gavin (13-3) to secure third place. Following his defeat Ed Ruth defaulted out of the Tournament.

At 125 KG former Easton Area wrestler Justin Grant opened up with a (6-3) decision over former Hawkeye Bobby Telford. Grant then fell to 2x NCAA National Champion Nick Gwiazdowski (N.C. State) in the quarterfinals. The Bloomsburg graduate and University of Buffalo Assistant Coach was eliminated from the Tournament following to Eric Thompson (9-8).

The two Pennsylvania Women’s Freestyle wrestlers both competed in their first Olympic Trials. Women’s College National Champion Samantha Klingel (Pleasant Valley) went (0-2) and Fransisco Giorgio (Wilson West Lawn) finished with a (1-2) record.



Men’s Freestyle


FS 57 KG – Nico Megaludis (Franklin Regional / Penn State) – (0-2)

Champ. Round 1 – Nathan Tomasello (TMWC) won by decision over Nico Megaludis (NLWC) (Dec 4-3)

Cons. Round 2 – Nahshon Garrett (TMWC) won by decision over Nico Megaludis (NLWC) (Dec 5-4)



FS 57 KG – Coleman Scott (Waynesburg Central / Oklahoma State) – (1-2)

Quarterfinal – Coleman Scott (Sunkist) won by tech fall over Joe Colon (TMWC) (TF 14-4)

Semifinal – Tony Ramos (TMWC/HWC) won by decision over Coleman Scott (Sunkist) (Dec 4-4)

Cons. Semi – Alan Waters (MWF) won by forfeit over Coleman Scott (Sunkist) (FF)



FS 65 KG – Jordan Oliver (Easton Area / Oklahoma State) – (0-2)

Quarterfinal – Aaron Pico (TMWC) won by decision over Jordan Oliver (Sunkist) (Dec 11-9)

Cons. Round 2 – Kellen Russell (NYAC/MWC) won by injury default over Jordan Oliver (Sunkist) (Inj. 0:00)



FS 65 KG – Zain Retherford (Benton Area / Penn State) – Third Place

Champ. Round 1 – Zain Retherford (NLWC) won by decision over James Green (TMWC) (Dec 9-2)

Quarterfinal – Logan Stieber (TMWC) won by decision over Zain Retherford (NLWC) (Dec 8-6)

Cons. Round 2 – Zain Retherford (NLWC) won by decision over Jason Chamberlain (TMWC) (Dec 7-2)

Cons. Round 3 – Zain Retherford (NLWC) won by decision over Jayson Ness (MN STORM) (Dec 6-3)

Cons. Semi – Zain Retherford (NLWC) won by injury default over Reece Humphrey (NYAC/Ohio RTC) (Inj. 0:00)

3rd Place Match – Zain Retherford (NLWC) won by decision over Jimmy Kennedy (NYAC/MWC) (Dec 2-2)



FS 86 KG – Edward Ruth (Susquehanna Township / Penn State) – (1-2)

Champ. Round 1 – Edward Ruth (Sunkist) won by tech fall over Deron Winn (TMWC) (TF 10-0)

Quarterfinal – Keith Gavin (TMWC) won by decision over Edward Ruth (Sunkist) (Dec 15-8)

Cons. Round 2 – Jon Reader (Sunkist) won by injury default over Edward Ruth (Sunkist) (Inj. 0:00)



FS 86 KG – Jake Herbert (North Allegheny / Northwestern) – (2-2)

Quarterfinal – J`Den Cox (MWF) won by decision over Jake Herbert (NYAC/CKWC) (Dec 8-1)

Cons. Round 2 – Jake Herbert (NYAC/CKWC) won by decision over Tyler Caldwell (Sunkist) (Dec 4-3)

Cons. Round 3 – Jake Herbert (NYAC/CKWC) won by decision over Jon Reader (Sunkist) (Dec 9-4)

Cons. Semi – David Taylor (NLWC) won by tech fall over Jake Herbert (NYAC/CKWC) (TF 10-0)



FS 86 KG – Keith Gavin (Lackawanna Trail / Pittsburgh) – Fourth Place

Quarterfinal – Keith Gavin (TMWC) won by decision over Edward Ruth (Sunkist) (Dec 15-8)

Semifinal – J`Den Cox (MWF) won by decision over Keith Gavin (TMWC) (Dec 3-1)

Cons. Semi – Keith Gavin (TMWC) won by tech fall over Richard Perry (NYAC/PWC) (TF 11-1)

3rd Place Match – David Taylor (NLWC) won by tech fall over Keith Gavin (TMWC) (TF 13-3)



FS 125 KG – Justin Grant (Easton Area / Bloomsburg) – (1-2)

Champ. Round 1 – Justin Grant (NYAC) won by decision over Bobby Telford (TMWC/HWC) (Dec 6-3)

Quarterfinal – Nick Gwiazdowski (NYAC/Wolfpack WC) won by decision over Justin Grant (NYAC) (Dec 4-1)

Cons. Round 3 – Eric Thompson (NLWC) won by decision over Justin Grant (NYAC) (Dec 9-8)



Women’s Freestyle


WM 53 KG – Samantha Klingel (Pleasant Valley / King College) – 0-2

Champ. Round 1 – Deanna Betterman (Sunkist) won by decision over Samantha Klingel (King) (Dec 3-1)

Cons. Round 1 – Dajan Treder (Jimmie Wrestling Club) won by fall over Samantha Klingel (King) (Fall 5:08)



WM 63 KG – Francesca Giorgio (Wilson West Lawn / Simon Fraser) – (1-2)

Champ. Round 1 – Mallory Velte (TMWC) won by decision over Francesca Giorgio (Simon Fraser) (Dec 6-2)

Cons. Round 1 – Francesca Giorgio (Simon Fraser) won by decision over Rachael Shannon (Xtreme Training) (Dec 10-8)

Cons. Round 2 – Alexis Porter (NYAC/McKendree Bearcat Wrestling Club) won by decision over Francesca Giorgio (Simon Fraser) (Dec 8-2)


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