Former Penn State wrestler and current Nittany Lion Wrestling Club member Frank Molinaro will take to the mat tomorrow in Rio in search of gold in the 65 kilogram (143.3 pounds) division of the Men’s Freestyle Wrestling competition.
Molinaro’s draw is a brutal one in a weight class filled with world and Olympic medalists. Frank will start out with Magomedmurad Gadzhiev of Poland in the round of 16. Gadzhiev is the defending world silver medalist at 70 kilos (154 pounds) and is ranked second in the world at that weight currently. If he’s able to overcome Gadzhiev, he’ll likely be awarded an opportunity to avenge his recent loss to Toghrul Asgarov of Azerbaijan. Asgarov, the defending Olympic champ at 60 kilograms (132 pounds), was able to best Frank just a few months ago at an event in Germany, 5-4. Molinaro led the bout 4-0 after a huge feet-to-back single, but was unable to hold center and eventually lost on the strength of 5 push out points for Asgarov.
Should Molinaro wade his way through a brutal quadrant, he’ll likely meet the defending World Champion at the weight, Frank Chamizo. Chamizo, a Cuban defector wrestling under the Italian banner, may be the most athletic wrestler in the world pound-for-pound and is my favorite to win the weight. A finals appearance for Frank would be a much-welcomed surprise and given the cluster*&$@ at the bottom half of the bracket I couldn’t begin to suggest who he’d face. If Molinaro medals tomorrow in Rio, nobody can say he didn’t earn it.