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  • Photo: Photo/Tony Rotundo

    Photo: Photo/Tony Rotundo

    Beat the Streets Preview & Predictions

    Jordan Burroughs will face Ben Askren on Monday (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

    The Beat the Streets show returns on Monday. This time it takes place in Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. The original theme of NCAA champions vs. Team USA has mostly fallen through. However, the event -- known as Grapple at the Garden -- still features multiple NCAA champions, world champions and even an MMA star this year. The card starts at 6: 30 p.m. ET on Monday.

    Below is a weight-by-weight preview with predictions.

    122 pounds: Elleny Seda vs. Valentina Bailon

    The event kicks off with a pair of female New York high school wrestlers. Bailon wrestles for Grover Cleveland and took second place in the state tournament. Her opponent represented Martin Luther King and finished third. She is also a yellow belt under Renzo Gracie in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Seda wrestled at a higher weight this past season and seems to have the edge in experience outside of the local scene. She should be able to pull off the victory in the first match of the night.

    Prediction: Seda over Bailon

    138 pounds: JoJo Aragona vs. Adam Busiello

    Rutgers had an outstanding season on the mats this year as the program crowned its first two national champions. They hope to keep that moment going with Aragona joining the squad next year. The No. 7 recruit in this year's class finished his senior year with a New Jersey state title and ended his high school career with a 158-6 record.

    Busiello flipped his commitment from Penn State to Arizona State in November, and the 16th ranked recruit eventually signed with the Sun Devils. The multiple-time Super 32 champion then went on to pick up his fifth state New York state championship.

    These two previously met in the finals of the 2015 Super 32 tournament. Busiello controlled that match and took home a 5-0 shutout victory. Since then both wrestlers have grown in terms of skill and size. Both have wrestled at the same weight recently, but Aragona should likely have a significant size advantage in this match. Look for him to impose his will and take the decision.

    Prediction: Aragona over Busiello

    57 kilograms: Nick Piccininni vs. Jack Mueller

    Former NCAA champion Nathan Tomasello was a late scratch from the event, and Piccininni received the call. The current Oklahoma State wrestler had his best year to date this past season. He spent the majority of the year ranked in the top three and decked eventual champion Spencer Lee (Iowa) in the annual Oklahoma State-Iowa dual. However, Lee got the better of the Cowboy at the NCAA tournament, and Piccininni went on to finish fifth.

    Mueller came out of redshirt right before Christmas last year at Virginia and quickly established himself as a legitimate contender at 125 pounds. However, it was still a shock to see him upset number-one seed Sebastian Rivera (Northwestern) in the semifinals with a dominant 8-2 victory. In the finals, he suffered the only loss of his junior season as he came up short against two-time champion Lee.

    While Mueller had an impressive season and an even more impressive run through the NCAA tournament, he will have a hard time here against Piccininni. Neither wrestler has a very extensive background in freestyle, but the takedown battle certainly seems to favor Piccininni. Mueller generates so much offense from the top position, and he will not have that luxury in a freestyle setting.

    Prediction: Piccininni over Mueller

    62 kilograms: Mallory Velte vs. Linda Morais

    Velte won a bronze medal at the 2018 World Championships. In the round of 16 she knocked off two-time Olympic bronze medalist Jackie Renteria (Colombia). After falling in the semifinals to five-time world medalist Taybe Yusein (Bulgaria), Velte bounced back with a 2-1 victory over Lais Nunes (Brazil) to take bronze. She recently finished with a silver medal at the Pan American Championships.

    Morais won a World University Championship gold medal for Canada at 62 kilograms. She then dropped down to 59 kilograms and represented the country at the Senior World Championships. On the senior level, she lost her second match against two-time world bronze medalist Elif Jale Yesilirmak (Turkey) and finished ninth.

    Morais has not had the best results since a surprising world bronze medal in 2016. Velte has been trending the opposite direction recently and she be able to control this match from start to finish.

    Prediction: Velte over Morais

    70 kilograms: James Green vs. Anthony Ashnault

    Green has been looking to bounce back this year after failing to medal at the 2018 World Championship. His quest to make another World Team got off to a good start at the U.S. Open. He scored a dramatic come-from-behind victory over NCAA champion Jason Nolf in the semifinals. However, he was then upset by Northwestern sophomore Ryan Deakin in the finals. The two-time world medalist will get another shot at Deakin, but he will certainly need to regroup in order to make it back on the U.S. squad.

    Ashnault capped his Rutgers career with an undefeated 32-0 record and the second NCAA title in Rutgers history just behind his teammate Suriano. He then moved on to the freestyle circuit where he ran through the field at the Pan American Championship and finished with a gold medal. He won all four of his matches with three technical falls and a 47-second fall.

    Green has been a fixture on the international circuit for years now, but the recent crop of college wrestlers will certainly present new and interesting challenges. So far Green has passed the tests in some cases and come up short in others. Ashnault will present a lot of problems with his length, but Green should be able to win a takedown battle.

    Prediction: Green over Ashnault

    97 kilograms: Kyle Snyder vs. Nishan Randhawa

    Snyder went to Krasnoyarsk in January looking for a third match against Abdulrashid Sadulaev after falling in the finals of the 2018 World Championships. The match did not materialize, and Snyder finished a disappointing ninth. Since then the former Olympic and world champion has gotten back on track with gold-medal performances at the Dan Kolov-Nikola Petrov Tournament and the Pan American Championships.

    Randhawa represented Canada at the last two U23 World Championships, but he failed to medal at either event. His best international results were a pair of gold medals at the 2017 and 2016 junior Pan American Championship and a Junior world bronze in 2015.

    Snyder and Randhawa faced off at the 2017 Pan American Championships, and the former Ohio State wrestler rolled to a 10-0 victory. The result should not be much different this time.

    Prediction: Snyder over Randhawa

    125 kilograms: Nick Gwiazdowski vs. Derek White

    Gwiazdowski became a two-time world bronze medalist this past season and cemented himself as one of the best heavyweights around. He had a slip up at the Dan Kolov-Nikola Petrov tournament. However, the former NC State wrestler was as dominant as the rest of the team at the recent Pan American Championships and picked up a gold medal.

    Entering his senior year, White had never reached All-America status. However, it became clear early in the season that he was one of the best heavyweights in the country. After an impressive regular season and a Big 12 title, he entered the NCAA tournament as the top seed. He ended up finishing second behind Penn State's Anthony Cassar, but it was still a great year. White recently made the semifinals of the U.S. Open where he dropped a match against Adam Coon, and he ended up finishing fourth.

    This should be an interesting match, because both are heavyweights who rely on the quickness and athleticism. The edge should go to Gwiazdowski who has much more extensive freestyle experience, but this could turn out to be a close one.

    Prediction: Gwiazdowski over White

    53 kilograms: Becka Leathers vs. Diana Weicker

    Leathers earned the call after Sarah Hildebrandt pulled out of the event with an injury. The Oklahoma native is a World bronze medalist in her own right, and should give the fans quite the show. In her only international competition this year, she finished tenth at the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix in January.

    Weicker had a strong season representing Canada on the international circuit in 2018. She won a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games and finished with a bronze at the 2018 World Championships. She has continued to look solid this year with bronze medal finishes at the Klippan Lady Open and Pan American Championships, and Weicker also finished first at the Grand Prix of Germany.

    Leathers may not be on the same roll as Hildebrandt at the moment, but she is certainly a class above Weicker. It would be pretty surprising if the Canadian was able to avoid match termination.

    Prediction: Leathers over Weicker

    61 kilograms: Nick Suriano vs. Joe Colon

    Suriano became the first national champion in Rutgers history this past march. On the season, he went 29-3 and defeated recent U.S. Open champion Daton Fix (Oklahoma State) in the NCAA finals. He will head into his senior season next fall with the potential to become a two-time NCAA champion and three-time finalist.

    Colon headed to last year's World Championships as an injury replacement for Nahshon Garrett. He made the most of the opportunity and ended up bringing home a bronze medal. He has continued his winning ways this year with a gold medal finish at the Pan American Championship, which included a dominant 9-3 victory over reigning World champion Yowlys Bonne Rodriguez (Cuba).

    The reigning NCAA champion can compete with anyone, but Colon is on another level at the moment. Suriano has a chance in this match if he can make it a takedown battle. However, if Colon gets any opportunities from the top position he should be able to end it with his gut wrench.

    Prediction: Colon over Suriano

    86 kilograms: David Taylor vs. Drew Foster

    It was clear since his college days that Taylor was one of the best wrestlers in the country. However, due to a backlog at 74 kilograms, he was never really able to showcase his wrestling on the international circuit. Last year he finally secured a World Team spot at 86 kilograms. He took full advantage of the opportunity and dominated the field at the World Championship on his way to a gold medal. His performance was so dominant that he was awarded UWW Best Wrestler of the Year as well.

    Foster entered his final NCAA tournament of his career this past year as the sixth seed. However, he made it to the finals with victories over Zack Zavatsky (Virginia Tech) and Chip Ness (North Carolina) before knocking off Max Dean (Cornell) in dramatic fashion in the finals. In the process, he became the first NCAA champion from Northern Iowa since 2000.

    Even though after his magical run through the NCAA tournament, Foster is a heavy underdog in this match. Taylor has distinguished himself as one of the best wrestlers domestically and internationally.

    Prediction: Taylor over Foster

    92 kilograms: J'den Cox vs. Patrick Brucki

    Cox moved up to 92 kilograms after UWW's expansion of the weight classes last year, and it proved to be a good decision. After a pair of bronze medals at the 2016 Olympics and 2017 World Championship, he broke through and brought home a gold in 2018. Some expected him to move down to 86 kilograms in preparation for next year's Olympics, but the former Missouri wrestler will stay up at 92 kilograms for the rest of this cycle.

    After qualifying for the NCAA tournament and failing to reach All-America status in his true freshman season, Brucki returned this past season and quickly established himself as one of the best in the 197-pound division. He ended up finishing fourth at the NCAA tournament to become an All-American for the first time and along the way in the season he picked up victories over Josh Hokit (Fresno State), Ben Honis (Cornell) and Dakota Geer (Oklahoma State).

    This is a bad style match for Brucki. He succeeds when he is able to impose his will with his strength in the tie-ups. That is not an advantage he is likely to have against Cox. Cox can be a bit of a slow starter, so Brucki might look good for a bit. However, a victory for the Princeton wrestler would be a major upset.

    Prediction: Cox over Brucki

    65 kilograms: Yianni Diakomihalis vs. Bajrang Punia

    Diakomihalis burst onto the scene as a true freshman and won an NCAA title. This past year, he defended that title with tournament victories over Jaydin Eierman (Missouri) and Joseph McKenna (Ohio State). However, his performance at the recent U.S. Open may have been even more impressive. At the tournament, he knocked off favorite Jordan Oliver in the semifinals via 16-5 score and then defeated Penn State legend Zain Retherford 6-4 in the finals.

    Punia is a multiple-time medalist at the Asian Championships and the returning world silver medalist from the 2018 edition of the tournament. Last weekend he dominated the field at the 2019 Asian Championships. He won all four of his matches by a combined score of 40-8.

    Prior to his performance at the U.S. Open, it appears as if Diakomihalis was biting off more than he could chew with this match. However, after knocking off the likes of Oliver and Retherford, it looks like he is here to stay at 65 kilograms. Punia remains the favorite, but this match should feature some wild scrambles and plenty of excitement.

    Prediction: Bajrang over Diakomihalis

    74 kilograms: Jordan Burroughs vs. Ben Askren

    Burroughs' ability to win close matches will be a respected aspect of his extensive legacy when he is done competing. That was on display yet again at the Pan American Championship. In his second match he found himself down against Franklin Gomez, but he scored a last-second takedown to take the match. Even though he is nearing the end of his run, the seven-time world/Olympic champion is still in top form.

    Following the 2008 Olympics, Askren tried to compete in both MMA and freestyle wrestling at the same time. However, former NCAA champion for Missouri eventually began wrestling less and less while fighting more and more. He recently made his long-awaited UFC debut and defeated former champion Robbie Lawler via first-round submission. He returns to his wrestling roots here for the first time in a long time.

    Despite going undefeated in all sports since a 2015 wrestling loss to Clayton Foster, Askren will be a heavy underdog in this match against Burroughs. He has his tricky funk style to fall back on, but he has been out of the sport for a long time, and Burroughs has the takedown ability to avoid the scrambling.

    Prediction: Burroughs over Askren

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