• Brandon Cain

Beat the Streets Annual Benefit, Final X New York men's freestyle preview

Olympic champions Jordan Burroughs and David Taylor will be featured in the men's freestyle bouts.

The nation's top two Senior-level athletes in 15 weight classes will compete June 8 at Final X New York, presented by Tezos, for the opportunity to represent Team USA at the Senior World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia (Sept. 10-18).


A year of Senior-level competition will culminate for 30 wrestlers in this best-of-three series at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The series’ first matches will be held in session one at 2 p.m. ET. Session two will begin at 6 p.m. ET.


The men’s freestyle matches in New York feature two Olympic champions, three World champions, two Olympic medalists and four World medalists.


There is a past World Team member in every match, competing against an opponent who has never made a Senior World Team. That means all five of the winners could be a past World Team member, or there could be as many as five new World Team members.


Final X New York, presented by Tezos, will serve as the 12th Beat the Streets Annual Benefit. These unique and electrifying annual events help Beat the Streets New York raise millions of dollars to support local youth wrestling programs which empower young people in New York City.


There are a variety of ticket options available for Final X New York, beginning at $65 so you don't miss the first in-person Benefit since 2019. Purchase your wrestling-only event tickets on Ticketmaster For information on Benefit tickets and sponsorship packages (wrestling event and exclusive after party access) that also provide the best wrestling-event seats, visit give.btsny.org/benefit or email Fund Development Manager Kerry Doyle at kdoyle@btsny.org.


Bout 3 — 65 kg MFS — Evan Henderson (Ohio RTC/TMWC) vs. Yianni Diakomihalis (Spartan Combat/TMWC)

Elite athleticism and a relentless motor make Diakomihalis a heavy favorite. Just 23, Diakomihalis has established himself as one of the world’s best at 65 kg and his resume is littered with wins over Olympians. He represented the U.S. at the 2021 World Championships and lost to Armenia’s Vazgen Tevanyan in the quarterfinals. Diakomihalis, a native New Yorker, won three NCAA titles for Cornell and boast age-group World titles. He has also wrestled in Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in the 2019 Beat the Streets Benefit event, beating India star Bajrang, 10-8. A year later, in the 2020 Beat the Streets Benefit in New Jersey, he dropped a 4-4 criteria decision to World and Olympic champion Vladimer Kinchegashvili of Georgia.


Henderson, despite a lesser resume, has a distinct familiarity with Diakhomihalis. During a year stint for Henderson at Spartan Combat RTC, the two trained together daily. Henderson qualified for his first World Team Trials in 2017 and placed fourth. This is his first Final X appearance, after an amazing run through a stacked 65 kg field at the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament. A star at North Carolina, Henderson has trained with a number of RTCs, and has found a home at the Ohio RTC.


Both guys use an aggressive offensive mindset, so don’t expect a low scoring affair. The first match will be very telling, as Henderson works to establish himself and show he can beat Diakomihalis on his feet.


Bout 5 — 125 kg MFS — Hayden Zillmer (Gopher WC-RTC) vs. Nick Gwiazdowski (Spartan Combat RTC/TMWC)

Gwiazdowski will be favored based upon size and experience. He’s made four straight Senior World teams and collected two World bronze medals, and placed second to Olympic champion Gable Steveson at the Olympic Trials last April. A ripped heavyweight who moves well, Gwiazdowksi holds a major size advantage over Zillmer, who competed many years at 97 kg before making the move up to super heavyweight.


A two-time national champion at North Carolina State, Gwiazdowski can get to anyone’s legs and operates with nimble footwork. His compact size along with consistent pressure can easily wear down opponents.


Zillmer looks to spoil the party. He may not look like a heavyweight but has shown can contend with the best. Zillmer excels in all styles with a long wiry frame that allows him to shoot on anyone. A successful Greco-Roman career gives upper body strength to Zillmer but getting to the legs will be the key in this one. The two battled in the 2022 Yasar Dogu with Gwiazdowski fending off a barrage of shots to win 3-0. Zillmer reached Final X in 2018 at 92 kg and was runner-up to J’den Cox.


Recent results

Feb. 26, 2022 — Yasar Dogu International (Turkey) round of 16 — Gwiazdowski dec. Zillmer, 3-0


Bout 12 — 74 kg MFS — Kyle Dake (Spartan Combat RTC/TMWC) vs. Jason Nolf (NLWC/TMWC)

A rivalry renews in New York. Last April, the two battled for an Olympic berth. Next week, they compete for a World Championships berth.


Dake has three World gold medals and an Olympic bronze medal. None for Nolf, who had a tremendous college career, and has made the National Team, but is seeking a first Senior World Team. Experience is part of that. Dake turned 31 in February and made his Senior-level debut in 2011. He captivated the country after beating Jordan Burroughs in last year’s Olympic Team Trials final. It was a dream that escaped Dake for years, as Burroughs always stood above Dake when they were both at 74 kg.


In the Olympic Team Trials, Dake crushed Nolf’s gold-medal dreams in 42 seconds. An early ankle pick transformed into a five-point throw. Nolf must unlock a new level if he wants on this Senior World Team. This will also be a test to Nolf’s improvement in the last year. His dominant performance at the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament shows that Nolf is ready for the challenge. Can Dake shut him out for a third time?


Recent results

April 3, 2021 — U.S. Olympic Team Trials semifinal — Dake tech. fall Nolf, 11-0

Feb. 3, 2021 — NLWC Card 5 — Dake dec. Nolf, 5-0


Bout 14 — 79 kg MFS — Jordan Burroughs (Pennsylvania RTC/Sunkist Kids) vs. Chance Marsteller (NYCRTC/TMWC)

This match pits an all-time great against a career grinder.


Marsteller comes in red-hot, after he rampaged through a loaded World Team Trials bracket to earn a shot against Burroughs. Sporting athletic tape on his forehead, Marsteller defeated Vincenzo Joseph in a wild three-bout series. Leading by one point with two seconds left, Marsteller tossed Joseph to solidify his win.


While Burroughs is a massive favorite, Marsteller is peaking at the right time. He won the Bill Farrell Memorial to qualify for the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament. In late April, he placed fifth at the U.S. Open, and made a big jump at the Trials event.


His compact size allows for upper body strength but will need to be quick enough to score on Burroughs. In two previous meetings, Marsteller only scored from passivity. In the 2022 Yasar Dogu final, Burroughs needed nine seconds to score a takedown from an ankle pick. He added two more in an 8-0 win. In the 2021 Senior World Team Trials, Marsteller scored on passivity.


Burroughs, a five-time World Champion and 2012 Olympic champion, looks to make his ninth Senior World Team. Currently tied with John Smith and Adeline Gray with six World or Olympic titles, Burroughs is the reigning World champion at his new weight class. With Gray sitting out this year to have a child, Burroughs could take the top spot on the nation’s gold-medal list. This is the kind of challenge that motivates him.


This is Marsteller’s first Final X appearance. Burroughs has contained any sort of offense from Marsteller in the past. A highly motivated Marsteller fresh off a big win could make things interesting.


Recent results

Feb. 24, 2022 — Yasar Dogu final — Burroughs dec. Marsteller, 8-0

Sept. 11, 2021 — Senior World Team Trials quarterfinal— Burroughs dec. Marsteller, 4-1


Bout 15 — 86 kg MFS — David Taylor (NLWC/TMWC) vs. Zahid Valencia (Sunkist Kids)

Taylor is the only 2020 Olympic champion in this event. The Magic Man brings the glory of gold to New York. He won World gold in 2018 and claimed a World silver after a loss to Iran’s Hassan Yazdani in the 2021 finals. Taylor had beaten Yazdani on the way to his exciting Olympic title run.


Oddly enough, there is no history between these guys as opponents. Both recorded prolific collegiate careers. Taylor (Penn State) and Valencia (Arizona State) each won two NCAA titles. Taylor also is a two-time Dan Hodge Trophy winner as the best NCAA wrestler in 2012 and 2014.


Taylor is a veteran of Beat the Streets Benefit events. He won his first four BTS matches, stopping stars from Russia, Azerbaijan, Cuba and Japan. In his last Beat the Streets appearance in 2019, he was injured facing NCAA champion Drew Foster in the Hulu Theater, which led to him missing the rest of that season. Taylor came back strong and prepared last year.


Valencia claimed gold at the Pan-American Championships in early May. With a world class resume, Taylor faces a new challenger in Valencia, who has hung near the top of the National Team rankings, but hasn’t made a Senior World Team yet. Valencia’s previous Final X appearance came in 2018, when he was defeated by eventual World champion Kyle Dake in the championship series


Valencia also has his own magic. He stuns opponents with slippery duck unders. His foot speed leads to plenty of points but will be challenged by Taylor’s experience and skill set. A first matchup between a veteran star and a rising talent, it will be interesting to see the outcome.


Recent results

None


FloWrestling will serve as the host broadcasting partner for Final X New York, presented by Tezos.

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