photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com
Sunday evening at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles the US Women’s National Team hosted a team consisting of wrestlers from India and Mexico in the fifth annual Beat the Streets Los Angeles Benefit. The event was nicknamed Hollywood Wrestles Bollywood. The USA team had a successful night winning eight of the ten bouts and five of the eight wins came via fall or technical falls.
Whitney Conder led off for the American team at 50 kg against Sheetal Tomar (India) and got off to a slow start, leading only 1-0 after one period. In the second though, she emerged on top in a prolonged scramble to get a takedown and then pancaked Tomar to her back for a quick fall.
Next up was world silver medalist Sarah Hildebrandt, recently named USA Wrestling’s 2018 Women’s Wrestler of the Year. Sarah would face Marian Diaz Munoz (Mexico) and needed little time to secure the second win of the evening for Team USA. Hildebrandt used a picturesque shuck-by for a takedown then was able to quickly expose Diaz Munoz four times for a 10-0 tech fall in only 1:47.
California native Jacarra Winchester took the mat at 55 kg, and like Hildebrandt, she wasted no time getting on the scoreboard less than 30 seconds into her bout with Pinki (India). Later in the first period, Winchester scored a second takedown after countering an errant Pinki shot. Jacarra kept her foot on the gas pedal in the second period as she captured a single leg and wowed the crowd with a big trip for two more points and a 6-0 lead. Winchester closed out the scoring as she pushed out Pinki during a final charge from the Indian, taking the bout 7-0
The team comprised of wrestlers from India and Mexico got their first of two wins on the night from Pooja Dhanda at 57 kg when she downed Jenna Burkert, 4-2.
Team USA got back on the winning track with two-time world silver medalist Alli Ragan at 59 kg. Ragan who was back in action after missing the 2018 World Championships due to injury provided the crowd with one of the most memorable moments of the meet when she hit a five-point suplex on Sarita, a 2017 Asian silver medalist. Leading by two points in the second period, Ragan was attempting to finish a low single when she found herself behind a tripoding Sarita. Her five-point throw was all that she would need in a 9-1 victory.
The biggest match of the evening came at 62 kg when the second of three California natives, Mallory Velte, a 2018 World bronze medalist took on Sakshi Malik (India), a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist. It was Malik who struck first with a big double leg that ran Veltre out of bounds for two points. Mallory would even the score later in the first period with a lightning fast ankle pick. Though she held criteria, Veltre would jump ahead on the scoreboard after hitting a second ankle pick for a takedown to lead 4-2. With about a minute remaining in the match Malik retook the lead on criteria after another double leg for a 4-4 score, Mallory was able to quickly recover and kept the pressure on her opponent and capitalized with big four-pointer off of a footsweep. After a review by the Indian corner, the maneuver was deemed to be worth only two points, moving Velte’s lead to 6-4. The American was able to fend off a double leg attempt by Malik and turn it into two points of her own for the score of 8-4, which was how the match would end.
The final California native of the meet, Forrest Molinari, took the mat at 65 kg and was paired up against Navjot Kaur (India). Late in the first period, after a takedown, Molinari locked in an armbar. Kaur was able to wiggle out of the first attempt by Forrest, however, on the second try with the move Molinari got her onto her back and earned the second fall of the evening for Team USA.
At 68 kg’s, Tamyra Mensah-Stock continued to make her case as the top wrestler on a very talented US Women’s team. The 2018 World bronze medalist and three-time Yarygin champion scored early and often on Maria Garcia Bautista (Mexico), getting four takedowns in an 11-0 technical fall.
Of course, we can’t forget about four-time World Champion Adeline Gray who would be waiting in the wings at 76 kg. Adeline needed less than 30 seconds to take the lead after an arm drag and gut wrench on Sudesh (India). Later in the first, with an 8-0 lead, Gray shot a beautiful fireman’s and dumped her opponent straight to her back for the fall.
Before Gray, the team comprised of India and Mexico picked up their second win of the night after Kiran (India) edged Rachel Watters 3-2 at 72 kg.