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  • Photo: Photos/Tony Rotundo

    Photo: Photos/Tony Rotundo

    FloWrestling: Burroughs vs. Zahid Preview & Predictions

    Jordan Burroughs and Zahid Valencia will face off Saturday night (Photos/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

    FloWrestling will host another event this Saturday. In the main event, multiple time world champion Jordan Burroughs will take on a challenge from multiple-time NCAA champion Zahid Valencia. The rest of the card features bouts between top contenders and a few rare interweight matches. The following is a bout-by-bout preview of the card.

    97 kilograms: Kyven Gadson vs. Kollin Moore

    These two recently met in the 97-kilogram final of the 2020 Senior Nationals. In that match, Gadson scored the first takedown of the match as he spun behind off a Moore shot. However, Moore turned it on late to take the victory. He scored eight of the last nine points of the bout and took home a 12-5 victory and the tournament title.

    On the way to the finals, Moore also defeated Nathan Traxler, Ty Walz and Hayden Zillmer. Earlier in the year, the former Ohio State competitor wrestled for the first time since college on the debut show for Wrestling Underground and scored a 7-0 victory over Deron Winn. Back at Ohio State, Moore was a four-time All-American. During his junior season, he made the NCAA finals before coming up short against Bo Nickal. This past season, he put together an undefeated 27-0 record and appeared to be the clear favorite heading into the NCAA tournament before it was canceled.

    Gadson also wrestled on the Wrestling Underground show. He had a tough time after moving up in weight against Nick Gwiazdowski and dropped a 10-0 match. However, Gadson got back into form quickly and had a solid showing at Senior Nationals. He knocked off Nino Bonaccorsi and Eric Schultz to make the semifinals. There, he matched up with rival Kyle Snyder. Snyder ultimately bowed out of the match with an injury, but Gadson was leading 5-0 at the time of the stoppage.

    Gadson showed he can score against Moore in their last meeting. However, in that match, Moore had the staying power and the more diverse ways of scoring. This one might turn into a shootout, but Moore should be the on top of the scoreboard at the end of the night.

    Prediction: Moore VPO1 over Gadson

    62 kilograms: Kayla Miracle vs. Ana Godinez

    Earlier this year, Miracle secured the U.S. a spot at 62 kilograms in the upcoming Olympics. She bested four opponents to make the finals of the Pan American Olympic Qualifier and earn the berth. Miracle had a busy 2019 as she represented the U.S. at both the Senior World championships as well as the U23 World Championships. While she failed to place on the senior level, Miracle brought home a silver medal from the U23 World Championships.

    Godinez, who represents Canada on the international scene, also pulled double duty in 2019. She failed to place at the Senior World Championships, but she did break through with a bronze medal performance at the junior level. Earlier this year, Godinez won a WCWC championship for Simon Fraser at 143 pounds. Along the way, she scored three tech falls in four matches.

    Miracle is one of the brighter young stars on the domestic scene. She should get the opportunity to look good here. It will be a challenge to make the Olympic team, but Miracle will be a regular on the national team ladder going forward.

    Prediction: Miracle VSU1 over Godinez

    160 pounds: Sammy Sasso vs. Tyler Berger

    As a freshman this past season at Ohio State, Sasso went 24-3 with victories over Pat Lugo, Brayton Lee and Kanen Storr. After his victory over Lugo during the regular season, he entered the Big Ten tournament as the favorite. However, the Iowa wrestler reversed that result in the tournament final setting up a rematch for the NCAA tournament. Unfortunately, the event never materialized. During the year, Sasso took a break from folkstyle to enter the 2019 Dave Schultz where he finished fourth at 70 kilograms and defeated David Carr and Anthony Collica.

    Berger defeated Joey McKenna on the debut Wrestling Underground show. Despite often competing at a higher weight, Berger's ability to continually score on the way to an 8-2 victory was considered somewhat surprising. In 2019, the former Nebraska wrestler entered both the Bill Farrell Memorial and Senior Nationals. Even though he failed to place in either event, Berger did score wins over Carson Kharchla, Dylan Ness and Nick Becker. As a collegiate competitor, he was a three-time NCAA All-American. Berger made the NCAA finals as a senior in 2019 and dropped a major decision against Jason Nolf.

    Weight might play a factor in this match. Sasso wrestled at 149 pounds this past collegiate season, so this will be quite a move up for him. On top of that, Berger seemed able to apply his weight advantage when he faced off against McKenna this past August. Ignoring those factors, Sasso should be the favorite due to his defense. If he can overcome the physical challenges presented in this match, he should be able to take the victory.

    Prediction: Sasso VPO1 over Berger

    59 kilograms: Alli Ragan vs. Lauren Louive

    Ragan and Louive were expected to meet in the finals of this past Senior Nationals. However, Ragan, the No. 1 seed, was upset in the semifinals by Xochitl Mota-Pettis and went on to finish third. Louive, on the other hand, took care of business on her side of the bracket and ended up defeating Mota-Pettis in the finals.

    On her way to the tournament title, Louive also defeated Isabella Gonzalez, Jasmine Davis and Ngao Shoua Whitehorn. In addition to the 2020 Senior Nationals title, Louive also won bronze medals at the 2020 Pan American Championships, 2019 Dave Schultz Memorial and 2019 Klippan Lady Open.

    Despite the upset at Senior Nationals, Ragan remains one of the top contenders at this weight class domestically. She defeated Louive at Final X last year to make yet another world team. She holds a pair of world silver medals from both the 2016 and 2017.

    In their two-match series at Final X, Ragan won both matches via 10-0 shutouts. The longer of the two matches was still under two minutes. It will be interesting to see if Louive has made strides and perhaps closes the gap. However, Ragan should be a big favorite heading into this contest.

    Prediction: Ragan VSU over Louive

    103 kilograms: G'Angelo Hancock vs. Alan Vera

    For the past few cycles, Hancock has been perhaps the strongest competitor for the U.S. on the Greco side of the sport. So far this year, he has medaled at the Matteo Pellicone, Pan American Championships and the Pan American Olympic Qualifier. Hancock has represented the U.S. at multiple world championships and holds an impressive victory over seven-time world/Olympic medalist Artur Aleksanyan.

    Vera defected from Cuba in 2016, and he has shown himself to be an extremely tough challenge. He recently dominated his way through Senior Nationals on the way to the tournament title. In the finals, he scored a 7-1 victory over Joe Rau in a bout that showed his dominance in all phases of the sport. In 2019, he won both the Dave Schultz Memorial and the Bill Farrell Memorial. In those two events, Vera outscored his opponents by a combined 60-4 score.

    Vera has appeared to be a polished Greco competitor since coming over from Cuba. However, he may be biting off a bit more than he can chew in this one. Hancock regularly competes at 97 kilograms, while Vera's recent success has come down at 87 kilograms. For those not familiar with the metric system, that is a difference of about 22 pounds. Vera might be able to make a different par terre in this match, but it is hard to see him scoring against such a larger opponent on the feet.

    Prediction: Hancock VPO1 over Vera

    67 kilograms: Anthony Echemendia vs. Evan Henderson

    After an extensive recruitment process, Echemendia appears to have finally found a home at Ohio State. He arrived from his native Cuba in 2018 and wrestled at the high school level for a single season where he won an Arizona state title. He entered the 2019 USAW Junior Nationals (Fargo) in both freestyle and Greco-Roman. Echemendia won both tournaments and defeated all of his opponents by a combined 139-10 score. This will be Echemendia's first competitive match since defeating Josh Saunders at the 2019 Who's Number One event.

    Henderson has been competing full time on the freestyle circuit since exhausting his collegiate eligibility in 2016. At North Carolina, he was a two-time All-American after finishing sixth as a sophomore and fourth as a junior. On the freestyle scene, Henderson had a very strong 2019 that saw him pick up medals at the Dave Schultz Memorial, Cerro Pelado-Granma, Continental Cup and Bill Farrell Memorial. He has continued that momentum so far this year as he recently placed second at Senior Nationals. In the tournament, he defeated the likes of Ian Parker and Jaydin Eierman before coming up short against Andrew Alirez in the finals.

    At this point, the wrestling world has really only seen what Echemendia can do at the high school level. He has appeared to be far and above the competition there. He is taking a big step up here against a wrestler who just finished second at Senior Nationals. With that being said, Alirez really laid out a game plan to beat Henderson in that finals match. Echemendia's ability to score from the outside could easily mimic Alirez's style and drive him to a victory here. With that being said, the experience edge might be too vast here.

    Prediction: Henderson VPO1 over Echemendia

    185 pounds: Jordan Burroughs vs. Zahid Valencia

    Burroughs is now an eight-time world/Olympic medalist after picking up a bronze medal in 2019. After failing to capture an Olympic medal in 2016, Burroughs was expecting 2020 to be about peaking for the Olympic Trials and eventually the Games. Due to the pandemic that has since been postponed. Burroughs last competed at the 2020 Pan American Championships where he easily won the title. He surrendered only one point in the bracket and scored an 8-1 victory over Franklin Gomez in the finals.

    Valencia recently exhausted his eligibility at Arizona State. He went 129-5 and won a pair of NCAA titles. Along the way, he scored victories over the likes of Mark Hall, Daniel Lewis, Myles Amine and Bo Jordan. In freestyle, Valencia is a junior world silver medalist from 2017 and has nearly made a pair of world teams. In 2018, he made Final X before coming up short against Kyle Dake. Last year, he made the finals of the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament before falling against Alex Dieringer.

    This is another match on this card where size could play a factor. Valencia has competed on the senior level in freestyle at both 79 and 86 kilograms. On the other hand, Burroughs has been at 74 kilograms for years. With that being said, Burroughs' style has helped him defeat larger opponents in the past. Valencia's length might be the biggest issue for Burroughs, but if he can get through the hands, he should be able to score.

    Prediction: Burroughs VPO1 over Valencia

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