Yianni Diakomihalis at the 2019 Beat the Streets event (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
The annual Beat the Streets event was delayed for several months, but it will finally take place on Thursday. The six-match card, which will be broadcast on FloWrestling, features a main event between multiple-time NCAA champion Yianni Diakomihalis and Olympic champion Vladimir Khinchegashvili. All matches will be contested under freestyle rules. The following is a match-by-match preview of the event.
Rustam Ampar vs. Jack Mueller
The scheduled match between Mueller and Vito Arujau was scrapped over the weekend due to an injury to Arujau. Mueller will now face Ampar. The Russian representative has some very impressive accolades including a gold medal performance at the 2014 Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix as well as a runner up performance two years later. He has been competing consistently on the senior circuit since 2011 and won a Junior world championship in 2009.
Mueller had a spot on July's Dake vs. Chamizo card, but he came up short and dropped an 8-1 match against Penn State's Roman Bravo-Young. Prior to that match, Mueller exhausted his eligibility at Virginia. He completed his senior season with a 13-1 record and was awarded All-America honors by the NWCA following the season. The prior year, he was an NCAA finalist and many expected a possible rematch against Spender Lee in the finals. Unfortunately, due to the shutdown, the season never occurred. Mueller was also a bronze medalist at the 2018 U23 World Championships.
Ampar certainly has the experience edge and the better accomplishments. However, he took this match on very short notice. On top of that his best results have been down at 57 kilograms, which will put him at a size disadvantage here.
Prediction: Mueller over Ampar (VPO1)
Gable Steveson vs. Trent Hillger
Before ever wrestling a collegiate match for Minnesota, Steveson won three world titles, two at the Cadet level and one at the Junior level. He was expected to run through the collegiate competition, but he dropped a pair of matches against Anthony Cassar as a freshman and finished third at the NCAA tournament. He returned this past year and posted a 15-0 record in an abbreviated season. At the Big Ten tournament, Steveson picked up wins over Anthony Cassioppi (Iowa) and Mason Parris (Michigan), who were considered two of his main competitors for the NCAA title.
After finishing eighth to become an All-American for the first time as a freshman, Hillger returned to Wisconsin this past year and appeared to be on pace for another trip to the podium. Despite the cancellation of the season, he earned All-America honors thanks to a 23-6 record that saw him defeat the likes of Tate Orndorff (Utah Valley, Gary Traub (Ohio State) and Josh Hokit (Fresno State).
Steveson and Hillger have faced off three times on the college mats. The Minnesota man won the first via major decision, and the other two bouts have been slightly closer. Their most recent meeting was the closest yet with a 10-5 score. On one hand that might give Hillger some hope. On the other hand, all five of his points came via escapes, while Steveson scored with a reversal and four takedowns.
Prediction: Steveson over Hillger (VSU)
Joe Colon vs. Seth Gross
Colon broke through with a bronze-medal winning performance at the 2018 World Championships. He originally failed to qualify for the world team, but an injury to Nahshon Garrett opened up a spot. Colon lost only to Yowlys Bonne Rodriguez on his way to his medal. Last year he represented the U.S. at the Pan American Championships and defeated Rodriguez in a rematch in the finals. Colon nearly returned to the world stage in 2019. He made Final X but ultimately fell in a three-match series against Tyler Graff.
Gross won an NCAA title as a junior in 2018 for South Dakota State. After redshirting the next year with an injury, he transferred to Wisconsin for his senior season. He went 27-2 during his senior year with his losses coming against Austin DeSanto (Iowa) and Sebastian Rivera (Northwestern). Following the season, he was named an All-American, which was his third time claiming the honor. Last November, Gross won the Bill Farrell Memorial with victories over Nathan Tomasello, Darian Cruz and Nick Suriano. He outscored his opposition by a combined score of 34-8.
The pair met twice in 2017 at both the U.S. Open and the World Team Trials. The match at the Open was a shootout that finished with Colon taking a 16-12 victory. The rematch at the Trials was closer at 10-5, but Colon still took the win. After the scrambly nature of their first match, Colon seemed to approach the rematch with a more strategic mindset. That should help him here. If he can avoid Gross's big moves in the scrambles, he should be able to take this match.
Prediction: Colon over Gross (VPO1)
Emily Shilson vs. Felicity Taylor
Shilson wrestles for Augsburg, but she has already built an expansive resume. She won gold medals at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games and the 2018 Cadet World Championships. The six-time Fargo champion also won titles at the National Collegiate Women's Wrestling Championships and WCWA tournaments. This past November, Shilson competed at the Senior Nationals and placed fourth.
Taylor recently represented the U.S. at the U23 World Championships. She currently wrestles at McKendree where she was a WCWA runner up in 2020 after bringing home a title the previous year. At the 2019 Senior Nationals, Taylor finished sixth with a 4-3 record in the tournament.
Shilson clearly has the talent and ability to one day be a regular on the ladder. However, she is still only 19 years old, and at times, she was muscled a bit during her recent matches at Senior Nationals. On top of that, Taylor regularly competes at 53 kilograms, while Shilson is normally down at 50 kilograms. Do not be surprised if Shilson uses her movement to score on the feet. With that being said, in the end, Taylor will likely be the one slowing the match down and winning a close match.
Prediction: Taylor over Shilson (VPO1)
Victoria Francis vs. Alexandria Glaude
In her second trip to the World Championships in 2019, Francis nearly came home with a medal as she dropped a one-point match against China's Paliha Paliha in the bronze medal match. In 2014, she captured a bronze medal at the Junior World Championships, and Francis nearly made the Olympic team in 2016 as she finished second at the Trials. In her collegiate days, she was a two-time WCWA champion for Lindenwood.
Glaude won a title at the National Collegiate Women's Wrestling Championships for McKendree. Last year she made Final X and nearly qualified for the world team. However, in the finals, she dropped a pair of matches against Tamyra Mensah-Stock. Last November, she scored a third-place finish at the Bill Farrell Memorial.
Francis defeated Glaude at the recent Senior Nationals in a somewhat interesting fashion. Francis scored three points via two shot clock points and a step-out, while Glaude had the only takedown of the match. Trailing 2-0 with under a minute left, Glaude was put on the shot clock for a second time. She got to a single leg and eventually finished. However, the referees ruled that the shot clock expired before she finished the takedown. Despite scoring the takedown, the extra point put Francis over the top. Even though she won the match, Francis never really came close to a takedown, while Glaude had the better attacks. Look for Glaude to open up earlier and take this match.
Prediction: Glaude over Francis (VPO1)
Yianni Diakomihalis vs. Vladimir Khinchegashvili
2019 really was quite the year for Diakomihalis. He went undefeated during the collegiate season and captured his second NCAA title. The Cornell representative then won the U.S. Open with wins over Frank Molinaro, Jordan Oliver and Zain Retherford. Diakomihalis followed that up with a victory over Bajrang Punia who was ranked No. 1 in the world by UWW at the 2019 Beat the Streets event. However, Diakomihalis then came up short against Retherford Final X and missed out on making the world team. There was an issue in the second match of their series, so the match was remade at a standalone event. Once again Retherford prevailed and took the spot on the team. At the 2019 Senior Nationals Diakomihalis wrestled to a somewhat disappointing fourth-place finish. He dropped a match against Joey McKenna in the semifinals and forfeited the third-place match.
The annual Beat the Streets event always seems to bring in at least one big international star, and this year is no exception. Khinchegashvili is a two-time Olympic gold medalist after winning silver in 2012 and gold in 2016. The Georgian is also a three-time world medalist and a seven-time European Games/Championships medalist. Despite the career success, he has not had the best finishes at his recent tournaments. He failed to place at both the 2019 World Championships and the 2020 European Championships. However, he did bring home a bronze medal at the Alrosa Cup last November.
Throughout the years, these matches seem to mean a lot more to the Americans than their international counterparts. On top of that, Diakomihalis' scramble-heavy style is a little different than what most international competitors see on a regular basis. Those two factors make Diakomihalis a favorite in this contest. Khinchegashvili certainly has the credentials, but his best results have come at 57 kilograms. Look for the Cornell wrestler to continue the Beat the Streets winning streak he started against Bajrang last year.
Prediction: Diakomihalis over Khinchegashvili (VPO1)