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  • Brandon Cain

Christian Solano seeks state title with Beat the Streets to cement his legacy

The Eagle Academy senior started his wrestling career in middle school with Beat the Streets.

This feature story is part of a two-part student-athlete series for the 2023 Beat the Streets year-end campaign. To help BTS continue to make a lifelong impact on student-athletes like Christian, donate today at give.btsny.org/yearend2023.


At Eagle Academy for Young Men in The Bronx, a student’s legacy as a wrestler hangs on a white banner on the wall high above the gymnasium floor. 


There are 14 names of students who have placed at the state tournament through the years, including Beat the Streets Academy student-athlete Christian Solano. The Eagle Academy senior has twice earned a spot on the podium, placing eighth as a sophomore and fifth as a junior.


So far, Nathaniel Rose is the only member of that exclusive club to win a state championship. Solano plans to become the second and the first BTS Academy/Division 2 student-athlete in New York City to become a three-time state place winner.


“It’s just a legacy that is going to be here for years,” Solano said of his name on the banner. “Your name is always going to be there. My little brother (Amari) is here and for me to do that would be special. I would love for him to do even better.” 


Unsurprisingly, Solano is already focusing on building a platform for his younger brother since his older brother, Hector Rodriguez, did the same for him.


“My brother, Hector, is one of my biggest role models,” Solano said. “I just look up to him like he’s a God – like everything he does I want to do. It's hard to explain. We’re brothers... I just want to be somewhere in my life to be able to wrestle like him, go places.”


Solano began wrestling in seventh grade with the BTS Junior League, NYC’s only middle school wrestling league. He joined wrestling after watching Rodriguez compete. Rodriguez’s name also adores the state place winner banner, with a third-place finish. 


“We’ve had a few brothers that have wrestled, and the thing that always happens is they always want to be better than their brother,” Eagle Academy head coach John McGarry said. “Christian knows Hector made it to the semifinals and wound up losing. He wants to beat his brother and make it to the finals then see what happens.” 


By taking fifth place last year, Solano finished the year with a win. He has used the victory to propel himself forward and dedicated more time toward wrestling. He wakes up at 6 a.m. to travel to school, then lifts weights before classes begin. During gym class or lunch, he’ll hit the weight room again before wrestling practice at school and then take a one-hour subway ride to get more practice time at BTS.


“He has been going to Beat the Streets a lot because there are some bigger kids there for him to work out with,” McGarry said. “We have some kids here for him to work out with. We’re really trying to make sure he’s in a position to be successful come February.” 


McGarry also can count on his former state place winners like Rodriguez, Rose and Jason Gomez to help Solano reach his goal. 


"(BTS) helped create all these other guys that have now come back to give and Christian is going to Beat the Streets,” McGarry said. “He also sees there are all these other people giving back to me (and) now I have to kind of give back and I have to be a leader.”


With all the hours of work and preparation he has put in, Solano is confident he can add his name to that banner once more with the distinction of being a state champion.


“It would mean everything to me,” he said. “Wrestling is something I love, and I truly care for, and I dedicate my life to every day. Not that many people are able to wrestle. It’s not easy. It’ll mean so much. 


“I’m coming home with a state title, and the medal and I’m getting my hand raised.”


Since being founded in 2005, Beat the Streets has pioneered a movement that now includes 150 individual wrestling programs, a youth league and the first girls high school league.


BTS works to develop the full human and athletic potential of the urban youth and strengthen the NYC wrestling culture. We aim to make a lifelong impact on student-athletes through the lessons learned on the wrestling mat -- discipline, perseverance, self-reliance, humility and a strong work ethic. Discover how you can make a meaningful contribution to our work at btsny.org/donate.

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