Photos Courtesy of John Sachs; TechFall.com
Thursday, May, 17th a team of all-stars from USA wrestling will take on high-quality opponents from Nigeria and Cuba, along with a couple of special challenge matches, at the annual Beat the Streets benefit titled “Rumble on the River” at Pier 17/Seaport District in Lower Manhattan. The event is used as a fundraiser for Beat the Streets New York, which has a goal of “improving the lives and potential of New York City student-athletes through the benefits and skills acquired by participating in amateur wrestling.” The event also takes place in prime locations, typically outdoors, that showcases our sports to people that may are not familiar with wrestling. It also provides the wrestlers and fans with a unique venue for competition. Here is a look at the excellent slate of matches that have been assembled for the event:
57 kg – Helen Maroulis (USA) vs. Odunayo Adekuoroye (Nigeria)
This is the marquee matchup from the women’s side with a pair of wrestlers that have made history for their respective countries. Odunayo Adekuoroye recently won her fifth African championship and was the first Nigerian woman to make a world final when she fell to Haruna Okuno (Japan) at the 2017 World Championships. Adekuoroye is no “one-hit wonder” she grabbed the wrestling world’s attention with her dancing after taking world bronze in Las Vegas in 2015. Maroulis made US wrestling history in 2016 after winning the first Olympic gold medal in women’s freestyle. At the Olympic Games, Maroulis and Adekuoroye were in the same 53 kg weight class, though the pair did not meet. The Nigerian fell in the Round of 16 to 2009 world champion Sofia Mattsson (Sweden), the same opponent that Maroulis dominated in the semifinals. Since the Olympics, Helen has added another world title to her collection, this time at 58 kg and continued to improve. None of her five matches at the 2017 World Championships went the distance. Adekuoroye competed in the World Championships last year at 55 kg. Her loss in the finals was by a single point to Okuno, who defeated Becka Leathers (USA) 8-0 in the quarters.
The taller, lankier Adekuoroye will have a reach advantage on Maroulis and will likely attack from the outside. Helen would be best served to try to get in close to generate her offense or work off of potential reshots.
TOM Prediction: Maroulis (USA)
59 kg – Alli Ragan (USA) vs Adeniyi Aminat (Nigeria)
Alli Ragan gets to compete in a Beat the Streets event in New York for the first time. However, this is not her first event of this sort. In October she participated in a Beat the Streets event in the Little Toyko section of Los Angeles, where she fell to Kiwa Sakae (Japan) 9-2. Ragan, a two-time World silver medalist at 60 kg, was also a finalist at the Ivan Yarygin earlier this year. Her opponent, Adeniyi Aminat is on the cusp of a potential breakout. Aminant was Nigeria’s representative in the 2017 World Championships at 58 kgs. At that event, she registered an opening round win over eventual WCWA champion Grace Bullen (Norway) and was victorious in the Round of 16 before falling by a single point to Aisuluu Tynybekova (Kyrgyzstan), who would go on the win a bronze medal. Adeniyi also competed in the 2016 Olympics, wrestling at 58 kg, though she lost her only bout of the games. About a month go she captured a championship at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. At that event, she defeated 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Sakshi Malik (India) 6-3.
Alli will be best served by only attempting high percentage leg attacks. Aminat is not overly offensive and is very quick when blocking and spinning for takedowns. Ragan also will have an advantage on the mat, as Aminat is not strong from the bottom position and can give up points during scrambles.
TOM Prediction: Ragan (USA)
68 kg – Tamyra Stock (USA) vs Blessing Oborududu (Nigeria)
Tamyra Stock will participate in the event for the second consecutive year. In 2017, she defeated Miwa Morikawa (Japan) 5-1, one of two victories for the American women. Stock competed in her first World Championship event in 2017 and had one win before falling to the eventual bronze medalist Yue Han (China). Her opponent Blessing Oborududu is a six-time African Champion and two-time Olympian. 2017 saw Oborududu have her best performance in the four World Championship events in which she had participated when she lost in a bronze medal match. In the opening round, she met and defeated American Mallory Veltre, while competing at 63 kg. Like her two teammates before her, Blessing also won the 2018 Commonwealth Games defeating Danielle Lappage (Canada) 4-3 in the gold medal match.
Oborududu has the type of style where she will lull an opponent to sleep and then knock them out with an explosive finish. Her double legs can be a thing of beauty. While she is setting her opponents up for a big move, she can tend to lose focus and get out of position, leaving herself vulnerable for a well-timed attack. If Mensah can capitalize on this, she will come away with a win.
TOM Prediction: Oborududu (Nigeria)
57 kg – Josh Rodriguez (USA) vs Reineri Andreu Ortega (Cuba)
This match will be a huge opportunity for Josh Rodriguez to make himself better known to freestyle fans. Rodriguez was a three-time NCAA qualifier for North Dakota State, once making it to the Round of 12 while competing at 125 lbs. Josh has been training with the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club since September of last year. During that time, he has finished third at the 2017 U23 World Team Trials, fifth at the Ukrainian Memorial, and was a match short of placing at the 2018 US Open. His opponent, Reineri Andreu Ortega, is fresh off of a title at the Pan-American Championships. In the semis of the tournament, Andreu Ortega knocked off returning World Runner-Up Thomas Gilman (USA) 7-4. In 2017, Reineri was a U23 World Champion at this weight class.
Andreu Ortega is not huge for his weight class, so he has to depend on his lightning quickness and crisp finishes when he does attack. He is also capable of going upper body with opponents if needed.
TOM Prediction: Andreu Ortega (Cuba)
70 kg – James Green (USA) vs Franklin Maren Castillo (Cuba)
As we move up to 70 kg, we get into the meat of the US Men’s Freestyle lineup, starting with two-time world medalist James Green. James, now a veteran on the international scene, will be attempting to make his fourth world team this summer. He has been a force competing at 70 kg throughout his career. Franklin Maren Castillo has moved up to 70 kg this year after spending the bulk of his career at 65 and 66 kg. Franklin has had some success competing at the new weight class, though he dropped a bout at the World Cup, he did win Cuba’s Cerro Pelado Invitational, defeating 2018 US Open champion Jason Chamberlain in the final. This is not Maren Castillo’s first time at a Beat the Streets event, in 2015’s “Salsa in the Square” he fell to Brent Metcalf (USA). Also in 2015, he was Cuba’s entrant in the World Championships, where he won a match before falling in the Round of 32.
Maren Castillo is short and compact for 70 kg. He has powerful hips, good defense and is difficult to penetrate. He picks his spots on offense, but as would be expected when looking at him, he is explosive and capable of high amplitude finishes. Though the Cuban is strong defensively, I assume that Green will still be able to get his offense going. Franklin also gave up points via exposure from Par Terre in the World Cup, so that could be another opportunity for James.
TOM Prediction: Green (USA)
79 kg – Kyle Dake (USA) vs. Livan Lopez Azcuy (Cuba)
Kyle Dake’s first season at the new 79 kg weight class has gone well so far, and it appears that he finally has the perfect weight to display his talents. At the 2018 World Cup, Dake went undefeated and was unscored upon by three of his opponents. The only wrestler able to manage points against him was three-time World/Olympic bronze medalist Jabrayil Hasanov of Azerbaijan, who he disposed of 5-3. Recently Kyle won the US Open, securing himself a position in the Final X portion of the World Team Trials. Livan Lopez Azcuy is a four-time World/Olympic medalist, highlighted by a World runner-up finish in 2013 while competing down at 66 kg. In that tournament he was defeated by Sohsuke Takatani (Japan), a wrestler that Dake teched at the World Cup this year 10-0. Lopez Azcuy’s most recent finish on the podium at the world level came in 2014 at 74 kg. So far in 2018, Livan has won a Pan-American championship at 74 kilograms, knocking off Nazar Kulchytskyy (USA) 6-1 and finished second at the Cerro Pelado losing to Kubilay Cakici (Germany, again at 74 kg.
Expect the smaller Lopez Azcuy to have problems getting through Dake’s defense. In Livan’s World Cup third-place bout vs Yuhi Fujinami (Japan) he displayed no defense for the Japanese wrestler’s gut wrench. Par Terre will be an area that Dake could exploit and rack up points quickly.
TOM Prediction: Dake (USA)
92 kg – J’Den Cox (USA) vs Yurieski Torreblanca Queralta (Cuba)
Like Kyle Dake before him, J’Den Cox also gets the luxury of competing at a new weight class which probably suits him better, at 92 kg. The past two seasons while at 86 kg, Cox has finished third at both the Olympics and World Championships. Even among the best in the world, J’Den has been immensely challenging to score on over that time span. His opponent Yurieski Torreblanca Queralta does not have any world level medals to his credit but will be incredibly formidable. He has two losses in the 2018 calendar year again David Taylor at 86 kg, the first was via criteria at the Yarygin, and the most recent was in the finals of the Pan-American Championships where Taylor won by a single point. With the way David has been wrestling, anyone that can keep him to those types of margin of victory is dangerous.
Torreblanca Queralta is relatively large at 86 kg, so he should be able to handle himself physically at 92. He is strong defensively, has heavy hips, and is hard finish on. Offensively, he likes to stick with low-risk attacks such as throw-by, shucks, and arm-drags. Expect to see two similar styles meet with Cox and the Cuban.
TOM Prediction: Cox (USA)
97 kg – Kyle Snyder (USA) vs Reineris Salas Perez (Cuba)
After an Olympic Championships and two world titles, Kyle Snyder is finally finished with college wrestling and can now focus solely on freestyle. It’s a scary thought! This year will be his fourth time competing in the Beat the Streets event. Snyder was last in action at the World Cup, where he teched all four of his opponents. Making his second appearance at this event is Cuba’s two-time World runner-up, the mercurial Reineris Salas Perez. At the same World Cup in April, Salas Perez dropped a pair of matches, and before that, he was defeated by American Ty Walz at the Cerro Pelado. Like teammate Lopez Azcuy, Salas Perez’s most recent world placement came in 2014, and he is 31 years old.
With all due respect to Salas Perez, Kyle Snyder is at a point in his career where if he wrestles his style of match and focuses on his strengths, no scouting report will be necessary.
TOM Prediction: Snyder (USA)
125 kg – Nick Gwiazdowski (USA) vs. Yudenny Alpajon Estevez (Cuba)
The first time competing on the Senior World level was a productive one for Nick Gwaizdowski, who brought home a bronze medal from Paris last year. Gwiazdowski competed most recently at the Pan-American Championships, where he won a gold medal and defeated his Beat the Streets opponent Yudenny Alpajon Estevez 9-0. Last month, in the World Cup, Gwiazdowski won three bouts, before losing a narrow 4-3 decision to 2015 World runner-up Jamaladdin Magomedov (Azerbaijan). This will be the second time that Nick has been able to return to his home state to compete in this event. Alpajon Estevez is a wrestler that has not competed for Cuba at the World level, as of yet. He has struggled in 2018, losing all four matches at the World Cup and he was knocked off in the semifinals at the Cerro Pelado by Ben Durbin (USA) 4-2.
Alpajon Estevez while only slightly larger than Gwiazdowski is much less athletic and had a great deal of trouble with New Yorker’s movement and ability to change levels. If Gwiz can replicate this sort of match and not get tied up, he should produce a similar result.
TOM Prediction: Gwiazdowski (USA)
126 lbs Patrick Glory (New Jersey) vs. Gavin Teasdale (Pennsylvania)
High school fans are in for a treat as we get to see the rubber match between prep rivals Patrick Glory (Delbarton, NJ) and Gavin Teasdale (Jefferson-Morgan, PA). Both wrestlers have defeated each other within the last year. Glory, a Princeton recruit, was victorious at the preseason Who’s Number One dual meet, in a match where Teasdale was on his legs numerous times, but never able to capitalize for a takedown. His scrambling ability and defense proved too much for Gavin. Penn State signee Teasdale was able to reverse that decision with a takedown finished within the last six seconds of their match, the main event at the Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic. If he can crisply finish a takedown or two in this match, he’ll be tough to beat.
TOM Prediction: Teasdale (PA)
70 kg – Jordan Oliver (USA) vs Togrul Asgarov (Azerbijan)
This is a matchup between two wrestlers who are coincidentally coming off of suspension’s for anti-doping violations, though Oliver’s was based around not having a proper use exemption. When he has competed, Jordan has been among the best domestically at 65 kg. At the 2017 US Open, Oliver defeated 2016 US Olympian Frank Molinaro and 2017 World Team member Zain Retherford. It’s hard to know precisely where Oliver stands among our nations best without competing for so long, but we do know he has recently moved to New York to start training at Cornell. The same can be said about Togrul Asgarov, a 2012 Olympic Champion and three-time Olympic/World finalist. Asgarov also has not had his best results when competing at 70 kg. Oliver competed in last year’s Beat the Streets event, falling just short in a classic match against Frank Chamizo (Italy).
Asgarov will provide quite the challenge for Oliver. He has excellent balance, is physical, works well from an underhook and uses a strong whizzer defense.
TOM Prediction: Asgarov (Azerbaijan)
74 kg – Jordan Burroughs (USA) vs. Frank Chamizo (Italy)
Social media can be a good thing sometimes. Throughout the winter and into the spring, Frank Chamizo alluded to the fact that he would possibly be moving up to 74 kg. This decision led to some good-natured jabs between Jordan Burroughs and himself about who would own the weight class. A credit to both athletes for putting this match together now, rather than having fans wait until the 2018 World Championships in October. Burroughs reminded us in 2017 that rumors of his demise were greatly exaggerated when he gutted his way to another World Championship, proving that his medal-less performance at the 2016 Olympic was an aberration rather than a sign of things to come. It was his fifth World/Olympic title and sixth medal overall. The 2017 World Championships also saw Frank Chamizo get back to the top of the both, as well. He won a world title in 2015, before dropping to bronze at the 2016 Olympics. The move up to 74 kg is surprising as he began his international career at 55 kg wrestling for Cuba in 2010. At the European Championships, about two weeks ago, Frank fell in the semifinals to Soner Demirtas (Turkey) 4-3. Demirtas is an opponent that has never defeated Burroughs.
Chamizo will be a unique challenge for Jordan. He is very quick and athletic, traits more commonly associated with generating offense, however, Chamizo uses them more offense for defensive purposes and with reshots. Frank is also an excellent scrambler, which is an area of Burrough’s game that often does not get enough credit. Expect the type of gameplan that we have seen from Jordan within the last year or so; heavy on physicality, with lots of movement which ends up wearing down opponents as the match progresses. Once this happens, he pounces on the weary opposition.
TOM Prediction: Burroughs (USA)