The sport of wrestling was the big winner during the 10th Beat the Streets competition, with a sold-out crowd of 5,000 fans supporting many of the best wrestlers in the nation and world at the Hulu Theater in the world-famous Madison Square Garden.
In the Main Event, 2012 Olympic champion and four-time World champion Jordan Burroughs scored an 11-0 technical fall over 2008 Olympic wrestler and MMA star Ben Askren to close out the evening.
Burroughs nailed a couple of patented blast doubles including one for four points. Up 9-0 at the break, Burroughs ended the bout with a low level attack early in the second period to win 11-0.
“I absolutely love to wrestle. This is what I do fulltime,” said Burroughs, who was then joined by Askren in the interview area. “Ben, thank you. We have done this a lot in the past, but we have never been able to create this kind of fanfare. Let’s do it again next year.”
“It is May 6 on a Monday and there are 5,000 people in this theater to see wrestling. It was awesome,” said Askren.
Askren was in the first Beat the Streets Gala competition a decade ago on the U.S.S. Intrepid. Burroughs won his ninth match in Beat the Streets competition.
Olympians in the same weight class, Askren competed for Team USA in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China and Burroughs competed in the 2012 Olympics in London, England and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
There were four international matches and the United States won them all.
The biggest battle happened at 65 kg, when two-time NCAA champion and two-time Cadet World champion Yianni Diakomihalis of Cornell edged 2018 World silver medalist and two-time Asian champion Bajrang Punia of India, 10-8.
Tied 2-2 at the break, Diakomihalis was up 8-4 in the second period, and came out of a wild scramble late to win 10-8. Diakomihalis was a 2019 U.S. Open champion a few weeks ago in his first full-season competing at the Senior level.
When asked about beating the No. 1 ranked wrestler in the world in Bajrang, Diakomihalis was honest about what that means.
“It don’t mean anything. I did not win a World title in that match. It just shows me that I am ready to win a World tournament. It’s good to know,” said Diakomihalis.
The other U.S. winners against foreign opponents were Kyle Snyder (97 kg), Mallory Velte (62 kg) and Becka Leathers (57 kg), all World medalists for Team USA.
Snyder, a 2016 Olympic champion and two-time World champion, scored a technical fall over 2015 Junior World bronze medalist Nishan Randhawa of Canada, 15-1. Up 9-0, Snyder nailed a big throw to close out the win in the first period.
Leathers, a 2017 World bronze medalist and 2015 Junior World bronze medalist, defeated 2018 World bronze medalist Diana Weicker of Canada, 10-6. It was a back-and-forth match, where Leathers was able to pull away in the second period.
In another battle of medalists, 2018 World bronze medalist Velte got her offense untracked in a 12-0 technical fall over 2016 World bronze medalist Linda Morais of Canada. Velte was dominant with her takedown offense in this match.
One of the main themes of the event were battles between U.S. Senior World Team members and NCAA champions and/or All-Americans.
One of the 2019 NCAA champions won an exciting bout, when local hero and 2019 NCAA champion and two-time finalist Nick Suriano of Rutgers edged 2018 World bronze medalist Joe Colon, 3-1 at 61 kg.
Both wrestlers were penalized on the shot clock for a 1-1 tie in the second period, and Suriano holding the tie-breaker. Colon was distracted for one second, and Suriano secured a two-point takedown quickly to win the bout.
Suriano, who has not competed in freestyle much since high school, was bolstered by a large crowd of fans from Rutgers and New Jersey.
One other 2019 NCAA champion also won, as Drew Foster of Northern Iowa unfortunately received an injury default win early in his bout at 86 kg when 2018 World champion and two-time World Cup champion David Taylor injured his leg and could not continue.
At 70 kg, in a battle of New Jersey natives, 2017 World silver medalist and 2015 World bronze medalist James Green stopped Rutgers’ 2019 NCAA champion and 2019 Pan American champion Anthony Ashnault, 8-4. Green secured a strong early lead, and Ashnault battled back in an entertaining bout.
At 125 kg, 2017 and 2018 World bronze medalist Nick Gwiazdowski controlled a tough challenge from 2019 NCAA runner-up Derek White of Oklahoma State, 9-0. Gwiazdowski used his experience to advantage, although White impressed with his abilities and grit.
At 92 kg, 2018 World champion, 2016 Olympic bronze medalist and 2017 World bronze medalist J’den Cox got his offense going to defeat 2019 NCAA All-American Patrick Brucki of Princeton by technical fall. Cox lifted Brucki high in the air and tossed him for the winning takedown.
In a battle of two collegians at 57 kg, 2019 NCAA runner-up and U23 World fifth place finisher Jack Mueller of Virginia was also dominant in his 11-0 technical fall over two-time NCAA All-American Nick Piccininni of Oklahoma State, who won four New York state titles at nearby Ward Melville High School on Long Island.
There were two high school bouts, both won by pin, with Jo Jo Aragona winning the boys bout over Adam Busiello and Valentina Bailonstopping Elleny Seda in the girls bout.
Aragona, who will be attending Rutgers, was leading 6-0 when he hit a pancake and pinned Busiello. These are two of the top high school wrestlers in the nation.
Bailon won a high-scoring battle, where both athletes scored big moves. She was able to get Seda on her back to secure the second-period fall. Both compete in New York City high schools.
For a decade, this event has raised substantial funds for youth wrestling in New York City, helping in the personal development of thousands of young people from across the city.
BEAT THE STREETS GRAPPLE AT THE GARDEN
Hulu Theater, Madison Square Garden, New York City
Monday, May 6
122 lbs. (girls) – Valentina Bailon pin Elleny Seda, 3:22
138 lbs. (boys) – Jo Jo Aragona pin Adam Busiello, 4:06
Men’s freestyle – 57 kg – Jack Mueller tech. fall Nick Piccininni, 11-0
Women’s freestyle – 62 kg – Mallory Velte (USA) tech fall Linda Morais (Canada), 10-0
Men’s freestyle – 70 kg – James Green dec. Anthony Ashnault, 8-4
Men’s freestyle – 97 kg – Kyle Snyder tech. fall Nishan Randhawa (Canada), 15-1
Men’s freestyle – 125 kg – Nick Gwiazdowski dec. Derek White, 9-0
Women’s freestyle – 57 kg – Becka Leathers (USA) vs. Diana Weicker (Canada), 10-6
Men’s freestyle – 61 kg – Nick Suriano dec. Joe Colon, 3-1
Men’s freestyle – 86 kg – Drew Foster inj. dft. David Taylor, 0:31
Men’s freestyle – 92 kg – J’den Cox tech. fall Patrick Brucki, 10-0
Men’s freestyle – 65 kg – Yianni Diakomihalis dec. Bajrang Punia (India), 10-8
Men’s freestyle – 74 kg – Jordan Burroughs tech. fall Ben Askren, 11-0
Attendance – Complete sell-out of over 5,000