TEAM USA: Frank Molinaro named USA Wrestling Athlete of the Week

Published May 16th, 2016 by Frank Molinaro

 Frank Molinaro at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
Photo: Tony Rotundo,


Frank Molinaro (State College, Pa./Nittany Lion WC) has been selected as Athlete of the Week on May 16, 2016.

United World Wrestling announced late last week that the U.S. was added as a qualifier at 65 kg/143 lbs. for the 2016 Olympic Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and as the U.S. representative at that weight, Molinaro earned the Olympic berth.

Molinaro won the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials at 65 kg on April 9 by defeating two-time NCAA champion Kellen Russell, four-time U.S. World Team member Brent Metcalf, four-time NCAA champion Logan Stieber and two-time Junior World medalist Aaron Pico on his road to gold. He outlasted Pico two matches to one in the best-of-three championship series.

Two weeks after winning the Olympic Trials Molinaro was sent to participate in the 1st World Olympic Games Qualifier in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. For men’s freestyle, the top three placers in Mongolia qualified their nation to compete at the Olympic Games in the weight class qualified. Molinaro fell short of the top three placement and therefore needed to qualify at the 2nd World Olympic Games Qualifier in Istanbul, Turkey two weeks later.

Only the finalists in Turkey earned the automatic Olympic berth. Again, Molinaro came up just short of qualifying the U.S. and himself to compete at 65 kg in Rio de Janeiro. However, Molinaro did battle back to win a bronze medal at the 2nd World Olympic Games Qualifier, a medal that ultimately secured his trip to the Olympic Games.

At the Olympic qualifier in Turkey, Molinaro won four matches over World-class opponents to claim bronze. He opened the tournament with a 3-2 decision over 2013 World champion David Safaryan of Armenia and followed with a 7-6 win over 2015 Junior World silver medalist Yuhi Fujinami of Japan.

Emerging Bulgarian standout and three-time NCAA All-American at Cal Poly Boris Novachkov beat Molinaro 5-2 in the quarterfinals. Novachkov reached the finals, pulling Molinaro back into the repechage. He drew Dauren Zhumagazyyev of Kazakhstan and won, 4-1. In the bronze medal match, Molinaro defeated Azamat Nurykau of Belarus, 5-2. Nurykau finished in fifth place at the previous two World Championships.

As a result of the two countries that qualified 65 kg at the European Olympic Games Qualifier having their Olympic qualifications revoked by UWW, a daisy chain effect ensued, resulting in the U.S. being awarded Olympic qualification because of Molinaro’s bronze medal performance in Turkey.

The past two seasons Molinaro has won three gold medals at international competitions. In 2015 he claimed gold at the Guelph Open and Grand Prix of Spain. This February he ran the table at the Pan American Championships to take top prize.

Molinaro was four-time NCAA All-American for Penn State University. He won the NCAA championships in 2012 and was NCAA runner-up in 2011.

Each week USA Wrestling will select an Athlete of the Week based upon performance within wrestling for that week. The selection committee will consider any level of wrestling, from youth programs through the Senior level.

To nominate a wrestler for USA Wrestling Athlete of the Week please send the athlete’s name, wrestling program and weekly and career accomplishments to Richard Immel at


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