Freestyle Wrestling Update: Beat the Streets and Brent Metcalf's Dominance

Harry How

Brent Metcalf is still very, very good.

Hey hey, it's time for a freestyle wrestling update...

BEAT THE STREETS

The annual Beat the Streets event goes down this afternoon in Times Square in New York City and features a who's who of recent college wrestling stars (who are also current or future freestyle stars) taking on an all-star team drawn from around the globe.  The meet has become one of the signature events for freestyle wrestling in America and a great way to market the sport and garner publicity.  It also tends to feature some great wrestling, especially with the new-and-improved freestyle wrestling rules.

The event itself will go begin at 4:30 PM Central time (with a live stream ($) available on flowrestling); a tape-delayed version of the event will be available on NBC Sports later tonight (at 9:30 PM Central time)

Here's a quick rundown of the event:

57 kg (125.5 lbs) -- Nahshon Garrett (Team USA) v. Georgi Vangelov (Bulgaria)

Garrett was the runner-up at 125 lbs. at the NCAA Championship this season, a year after finishing 3rd at the tournament.  Vangelov beat Iowa's Thomas Gilman, 4-3, at the 2013 Junior World Championships a year ago.  In other Iowa-related news at this weight, Tony Ramos will be competing at 57 kg (roughly 7 pounds less than the weight he wrestled at in college) at the World Team Trials coming up later this month.  The World Team Trials are the event that determines who represents the United States at the World Championships later this year in Uzbekistan.

61 kg (134 lbs) -- Jimmy Kennedy (Team USA) v. Aleksandr Bogomoev (Russia)

Kennedy was a two-time All-America wrestler at Illinois, wrestling at 133 and 141 lbs. while he was there.  Most recently, he laid a whupping on Matt McDonough (a 10-0 technical fall victory) in the semifinals of the U.S. Open (video below).  (Yes, in the freestyle ranks, McDonough is wrestling a weight higher than he did in college, while Ramos is wrestling a weight lower.)  Bogomoev has brought home gold medals at several international events and beat Kennedy via tech fall in an exhibition last December.  Suffice to say, Kennedy has his work cut out for him here.

65 kg (143 lbs) -- Logan Stieber (Team USA) v. Haislan Garcia (Canada)

Stieber is, of course, a current NCAA star and three-time NCAA champion, barely skipping a beat after moving up to 141 lbs. this past year.  He figures to have a bright future in the freestyle ranks once his college career is over and he's able to devote all his attention to freestyle.  Garcia is the proverbial wily old veteran (he's competed in two Olympics and four World Championships), so Stieber will need to be on his toes here.

65 kg (143 lbs) -- Jordan Oliver (Team USA) v. Borislav Novachkov (Bulgaria)

Both Oliver and Novachkov should be familiar names to college wrestling fans; Oliver was, of course, a superstar at Oklahoma State, winning two national titles (and controversially losing a chance at a third title -- to the aforementioned Stieber), while Novachkov was a three-time All-America at Cal Poly.  Novachkov recently finished second at the 2014 European Championships, while Oliver finished sixth at the U.S. Open last month.  Oliver still has world-class technique and will be a tricky opponent here.

65 kg (143 lbs) -- Brent Metcalf (Team USA) v. Magomed Kurbanaliev (Russia)

And here's the man of the hour and Iowa's only representative at the Beat the Streets event. Metcalf is fresh off a stunningly dominant performance at the U.S. Open (see below) and is looking to kick some more ass in the lead-up to the World Team Trials (where he will be the #1 seed at this weight).  Metcalf has certainly acclimated to the new freestyle rules very, very well.  Kurbanaliev is young (only 21), but already has titles at the 2012 World University Games and Junior World Championships, as well as a bronze medal at the 2013 World Championships; he could very well be a guy Metcalf faces again at the World Championships this fall -- assuming Brent can get there, of course.  Metcalf is very good and very comfortable with the new rules, but 65 kg has a very strong crop of American talent (in addition to Stieber and Oliver, there's also ex-Michigan wrestler Kellen Russell, ex-Ohio State wrestler Reece Humphrey, and phenom Aaron Pico at this weight).  Metcalf and Kurbanaliev could produce a thrilling showdown here.

74 kg (163 lbs) -- David Taylor (Team USA) v. Yabrail Hasanov (Azerbaijan)

Good news, everyone: we can now root for David Taylor guilt-free.  His days of tormenting Iowa (and, well, the nation) at Penn State are over; now he's off to torment the rest of the world in the freestyle ranks.  That is, if he can even manage to represent the United States at premiere events like the World Championships and Olympics; there's the little matter of a guy in the next match standing in his way... but I digress.  Taylor looked fantastic at the U.S. Open (if you want to see entertaining, edge-of-your-seat wrestling, I encourage you to watch the Taylor-Burroughs match, embedded below) and should only get better as he gets increasingly comfortable -- and experienced -- in freestyle.  Hasanov is no pushover, though -- he's a two-time Bronze medalist at the World Championships and finished ahead of Taylor at the World University games last year.  This should be a nice battle of speed and technique (Taylor) versus raw strength (Hasanov).

74 kg (163 lbs) -- Jordan Burroughs (Team USA) v. Atsamaz Sanakoev (Russia)

And here's the man keeping Taylor (and fellow superstar Kyle Dake, currently out with a foot injury) from a spot on the U.S. team at the World Championships and Olympics: Mr. Gold Medalist himself, Jordan Burroughs.  Burroughs' freestyle unbeaten streak came to a shocking end earlier this season, but he did manage to win a title at the U.S. Open last month, taking a thrilling 7-6 come-from-behind win over Taylor in the finals.  Burroughs is the same dude he's always been: quick, powerful, and owner of the most lethal double-leg takedown in the sport.  In days of yore, they'd write sonnets about his double-leg.  Sanakoev probably won't be intimidated by Burroughs, though; they met in the finals of an event last year (the Stepan Sargsyan International) and while Burroughs won, it was by a scant 7-6 margin.

86 kg (189 lbs) -- Ed Ruth (Team USA) v. Taymuraz Friev (Spain)

Like Taylor, Ed Ruth has wrapped up his Penn State career and moved on to freestyle competition -- making it much easier to root for him.  Ruth finished third at the U.S. Open, but was in some of the event's most exciting matches, fast-paced, high-scoring encounters with the likes of Clayton Foster and Jon Reader.  Ruth's flaw so far seems to be his defense; he needs to tighten things up there if he wants to claim freestyle gold.  Friev is another savvy international vet (he's 27 and has competed in multiple international tournaments over the years), and he'll likely be looking to exploit Ruth's relative inexperience at this level.

97 kg (213 lbs) -- Kyle Snyder (Team USA) v. Khadjimurat Gatsalov (Russia)

Snyder is representing Team USA despite not even wrestling a collegiate match yet.  Yeah, he good.  Snyder is actually the second current Buckeye at this event, joining Logan Stieber; if Ohio State coach Tom Ryan has his way, they'll both be atop the podium as national champions next season.  Snyder is expected to wrestle at 197 lbs. in college and while freestyle success is no guarantee of folkstyle (college) success, Snyder seems like a good bet to tear things up in the college ranks.  He's a stud-in-waiting -- and he may not have to wait very long.  That said, he's facing freestyle royalty in Gatsalov, who has five (!) World Championships and an Olympic Gold Medal to his credit.  Good luck, Mr. Snyder -- you're gonna need it.

There are also two women's freestyle matches:

55 kg (121 lbs) -- Helen Maroulis (Team USA) v. Marcia Andrades (Venezuela)

69 kg (152 lbs) -- Randi Miller (Team USA) v. TBA

Ah, TBA -- the most mysterious of foes... Perhaps Trish Stratus will come a-callin', representing Canada for the World All-Stars.  (SPOILER ALERT: She will not.)

* * *

As noted above, Brent Metcalf won the title at 66kg at last month's US Open.  He didn't just "win" the title, though -- he DOMINATED.  This is what Brent did to the competition there:

ROUND ONE: bye
ROUND TWO: TECH FALL (10-0) over Conrad Rangell
QUARTERFINALS: TECH FALL (10-0) over Chase Pami
SEMIFINALS: TECH FALL (10-0) over Reece Humphrey
FINALS: TECH FALL (9-0) over Kellen Russell

Yeah.  He outscored his opponents THIRTY-NINE to ZERO.  He gave up zero points.  Zero.  None.  Zip.  Zilch.  His opponent in the first round (BYE) scored exactly as many points as the living, breathing opponents he faced in the next four matches.  Yeah, he's good.  And, yeah, I think it's fair to say that he likes the new freestyle rules very, very much.  You can see Metcalf's dominance in video form below; his high-crotch attack has only gotten more devastating and his tremendous cardio continues to give him an edge on pretty much every opponent he faces.

65 KG ROUND TWO  -- Brent Metcalf vs. Conrad Rangell

65 KG QUARTERFINALS -- Brent Metcalf vs. Chase Pami

65 KG SEMIFINALS -- Brent Metcalf vs. Reece Humphrey

65 KG FINALS -- Brent Metcalf vs. Kellen Russell

Also:

61 KG -- Jimmy Kennedy vs. Matt McDonough

Meanwhile, I also threw in some non-Metcalf matches for you to peep at, too.  First up, Matt McDonough, making his post-college debut on the big stage of freestyle wrestling.  McD seems fully recovered from the shoulder injury that cruelly hampered his senior year at Iowa -- and he's also bulked up, moving up to 61 kg (134 lbs).

61 KG -- Sheldon Wilder vs. Matt McDonough

61 KG -- Joe Colon vs. Matt McDonough

61 KG -- Bernard (BJ) Futrell vs. Matt McDonough

Oh hey, here's ex-Iowa wrestler Montell Marion facing Chase Pami.

65 KG -- Montell Marion vs. Chase Pami

GENERAL HIGHLIGHTS

2014 US Open Highlight from Geoffrey Riccio on Vimeo.

And this match doesn't feature any ex-Iowa wrestlers, but does feature a lot of awesome wrestling.  So, yes, do give it a watch.  Taylor v. Burroughs; I reckon we'll be seeing quite a bit of this in the next few years...

74 KG FINALS -- David Taylor vs. Jordan Burroughs

Similarly, this match doesn't feature any Iowa guys, either -- but it does feature a mess of action.  Remember when freestyle matches were painfully slow and boring and crappy to watch?  Not anymore.

84 KG SEMIFINALS -- Ed Ruth vs. Clayton Foster

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