Jordan Burroughs powers through a leg attack on Zahid Valencia (Photo/Justin Hoch, jhoch.com)
AUSTIN, Texas -- Jordan Burroughs made his much-anticipated return to competition during another entertaining night of wrestling.
FloWrestling put on another high-level wrestling card with a number of intriguing matches taking place on Saturday night in Austin, Texas.
Burroughs, an Olympic gold medalist and four-time world champion, bumped up in weight to battle Junior world medalist Zahid Valencia.
Burroughs rallied for an 8-5 win in an action-packed, high-intensity matchup of two-time NCAA champions at 185 pounds.
Here is my breakdown from the evening's matches:
97 kilograms: Kyven Gadson vs Kollin Moore
This was a rematch of the recent Senior Nationals match that was won by Moore. Gadson came out firing, shooting in on a single and quickly transferring to a double for a 2-0 lead. Gadson followed by locking up with Moore, but the Iowa State alum was injured just 35 seconds into the bout. Gadson was unable to continue and had to default.
62 kilograms: Kayla Miracle vs Ana Godinez
Miracle powered in early with a double on a re-attack to strike first and lead 2-0. Godinez fought off a strong attack by Miracle in the closing seconds of the first period. Miracle countered early in the second period to expose Godinez with a four-point move to lead 6-0. Miracle countered another shot and spun behind to build the edge to 8-0. It was an impressive showing by Miracle against a strong international opponent in women's wrestling.
160 pounds: Sammy Sasso vs Tyler Berger
Berger was moving well and was the aggressor from the outset. He struck first after powering in on a low-level leg attack to lead 2-0. Berger followed with another strong attack to lead 4-0 late in the period. Berger hit another textbook low double and finished to lead 6-2 in the second period. Berger looked to have a size advantage and Sasso was unable to generate much offense. Berger powered in on another takedown in the final minute en route to an impressive 8-2 win.
59 kilograms: Alli Ragan vs Lauren Louive
Ragan, a two-time world silver medalist, started strong with a superb counter to jump ahead 2-0 early. Ragan countered a leg attack and spun around Louive to lead 4-0. Ragan kept the pressure on, powering in on a double and gaining exposure on a four-point move to lead 8-0. Ragan fired in on another double to prevail 10-0, winning on technical superiority in the first period. Ragan looks primed to land a berth on the U.S. Olympic team.
103 kilograms: G'Angelo Hancock vs Alan Vera
The lone Greco-Roman match of the evening promised to be entertaining with two wrestlers capable of lighting up the scoreboard. Hancock wrestles at a higher weight class and it showed early. He snapped Vera down and transferred immediately into a gut-wrench to lead 4-0 in the first 45 seconds. Vera followed by going for a throw near the edge of the mat, but Hancock countered to lead 6-0. Hancock followed with another score to prevail 9-0. He's a wrestler who is still relatively young and has the potential to contend for a medal on the world stage.
65 kilograms: Anthony Echemendia vs Evan Henderson
This co-main event was one many people were eager to witness. Henderson came out strong with an effective attack, grabbing a 2-0 advantage. Echemendia, a talented young star, didn't back down but had trouble scoring against a more experienced wrestler. Henderson countered a shot and scored a step out to lead 3-0 late in the first period. Echemendia came back in the second period, firing in on a shot that led to a wild scramble near the edge. The sequence went to a video review with Echemendia awarded two points for a turn and adding a challenge point to close within 4-3. Henderson shot in on a single before hitting a four-point move on the finish to lead 8-3 late in the bout. This was an action-packed bout that was entertaining to watch. Echemendia is going to be fun to watch as he continues to gain experience.
Jordan Burroughs came from behind to defeat Zahid Valencia (Photo/Justin Hoch, jhoch.com)
185 pounds: Jordan Burroughs vs. Zahid Valencia
The main event saw Valencia come out strong with a pair of takedowns off leg attacks to lead 4-0. Valencia had a noticeable edge in size and Burroughs was unable to convert in the first period. Valencia led 4-0 at the break. Burroughs continued to attack and converted on a double to draw within 4-2 early in the second period. Valencia came right back with a single and a step out to lead 5-2. Burroughs then hit a quick counter to spin behind his opponent, cutting the lead to 5-4 with 1:20 left. Burroughs drove in to score a step out to tie the bout 5-5 with just over a minute to go. Burroughs continued to attack, finishing a double to lead 7-5 with 45 seconds left. He added another step out to lead 8-5. Burroughs was relentless and wore Valencia down in a dominant second period. Burroughs scored eight points in the final three minutes to finish an impressive performance. It was a great match with a high level of intensity between two excellent wrestlers. Burroughs is 32, but he's still very much at the top of his game. He competed at a weight 20 pounds higher than he normally does Saturday, but he still powered through to earn a gritty, hard-fought victory. His conditioning looked excellent. And Burroughs called out world champion David Taylor after the win in hopes of setting up a match between the two American stars.
It was another great night for fans to be treated to some top-notch wrestling. It was unfortunate the first bout was cut short. Let's hope Gadson's injury isn't serious. And let's hope many more events like these are shown to provide opportunities for the athletes to compete. Any time Burroughs competes it is fun to watch. Let's hope he wrestles another full Olympic cycle.
Craig Sesker has written about wrestling for more than three decades. He's covered three Olympic Games, written 10 books and is a two-time national wrestling writer of the year.