Kellen Russell (right) captured the title at the 2013 U.S. Open in Las Vegas. Larry Slater photo.
A dual meet between wrestling powerhouses from the New York Athletic Club and the Titan Mercury Wrestling Club will be part of the outstanding wrestling card at the 2013 Grapple at the Garden.
The Grapple at the Garden event is presented by Suplay.com, at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Sunday, Dec. 1.
A seven-match dual meet – featuring five freestyle bouts, one women’s freestyle match and one Greco-Roman bout – will be held between strong new club Titan Mercury and traditional stronghold New York AC.
2013 World fifth-place finisher Angel Escobedo leads the New York AC squad. Escobedo, a past NCAA champion, will meet Kyle Hutter of Titan Mercury in freestyle at 55 kg/121 lbs. Hutter placed fourth at the World Team Trials.
One of the most intriguing matchups will come with the New York AC’s Kellen Russell battling Titan Mercury’s Montell Marion at 66 kg/145.5 lbs.
Russell edged Marion 6-4 in overtime in the finals of the 2012 NCAA Championships in St. Louis. Russell was a two-time NCAA champion for Michigan and Marion was a two-time NCAA finalist for Iowa.
Russell won the 2013 U.S. Open and followed by taking second at the U.S. World Team Trials in freestyle wrestling.
There will be a matchup of past Big Ten Conference stars and NCAA All-Americans when Brandon Precin of the New York AC and B.J. Futrell of Titan Mercury meet at 60 kg/132 lbs. Futrell is coming off a second-place finish at the New York AC International this month. Precin took fourth in that event.
A competitive battle is expected when the New York AC’s Enoch Francois faces Titan Mercury’s Austin Trotman at 84 kg/185 lbs. Francois beat Trotman in the third-place match at the NYAC event this month.
Top young standout Tyrell Fortune of Titan Mercury is scheduled to wrestle past NCAA All-American Kyle Massey of the NYAC at 120 kg/264.5 lbs. Fortune won the heavyweight title at the NYAC tournament and placed second at the 2013 World Team Trials. Massey was fourth at the NYAC event.
There also will be a Greco-Roman match at 96 kg/211.5 with University World Team member Mark Stenberg facing Wynn Michalak, a 2013 NYAC champion in freestyle. Stenberg is with the NYAC and Michalak with Titan Mercury.
Top young women’s standouts Jenna Burkert and Jennifer Page are set to square off at 63 kg/138.75 lbs. Burkert competes for the NYAC and Page for Titan Mercury.
"It is an honor and privilege for the NYAC wrestling team to be invited to compete at Madison Square Garden in the first Olympic style match between the top two amateur wrestling clubs in the country,” said David Foxen, NYAC Wrestling Chairman. “The NYAC has supported wrestling for over 100 years and hosted the first U.S. national wrestling championships in 1888. This will be an exciting event for all and we look forward to going head-to-head with our most formidable opponent, Titan Mercury.”
“Andy Barth and the Titan Mercury Wrestling Club are excited about the opportunity to compete against the NYAC at Madison Square Garden,” said Wayne Boyd, Titan Mercury Director of Operations and Development. “We would like to see this become an annual event where TMWC wrestles the NYAC once in New York and then a return match in Los Angeles. The more matches like this that take place, the better it is for wrestling. It's great that the athletes get paid and the winners get a bonus. It's going to be a great rivalry for years to come.”
There will also be a featured men’s freestyle bout in the Grapple at the Garden event between four-time NCAA champion and Titan Mercury wrestler Kyle Dake against past NCAA champion Bubba Jenkins.
Dake wrestled for Cornell while Jenkins competed for Arizona State and Penn State. Dake placed second at the 2013 Senior World Team Trials. Jenkins was a Junior World champion in freestyle wrestling and now competes in mixed martial arts.
The card also includes a pair of international women’s freestyle matches.
2012 World champion and three-time World medalist Adeline Gray (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC/Titan Mercury WC) will face Canadian World Team member Erica Wiebe (Calgary, Alberta/Dinos WC) at 72 kg/158.5 lbs.
2012 World silver medalist Helen Maroulis (Rockford, Md./Sunkist Kids) will square off with Canadian World Team member Jillian Gallays (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan/Saskatoon WC) at 55 kg/121 lbs.
The second Grapple at the Garden will also showcase 16 college teams, competing in two rounds of dual meets. Included are 12 NCAA Division I teams, plus two NCAA Division III teams, and a pair of NCWA club teams from local colleges.
The full day of wrestling will include two dual meet sessions with the first starting at 10 a.m. with Maryland vs. Cornell, Rutgers vs. George Mason, Illinois vs. Bloomsburg, Hofstra vs. Army, Boston U. vs. Penn, Drexel vs. Princeton, and Stony Brook vs. West Chester CC.
Session two will begin at 12 p.m. and will feature Cornell vs. Illinois, Rutgers vs. Maryland, Princeton vs. Army, Bloomsburg vs. Penn, George Mason vs. Drexel, Hofstra vs. Boston U, and NYU vs. Stevens.
It will also feature the finals of the Beat The Streets PSAL Thanksgiving Dual Meet Invitational, featuring 16 high schools. Moreover, the finals of the inaugural Grapple at the Garden middle school championship, produced in association with the Metropolitan Wrestling Association, will also take place. Registration is still open at www.wrestlereg.com
Tickets start at $20 and can be purchased at the Madison Square Garden box office, all Ticketmaster outlets and online at www.thegarden.com/grapple.
NEW YORK AC LINEUP
55 kg/121 lbs. – Angel Escobedo (Columbus, Ohio)
60 kg/132 lbs. – Brandon Precin (Evanston, Ill.)
66 kg/145.5 lbs. – Kellen Russell (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
84 kg/185 lbs. – Enock Francois (West Point, N.Y.)
120 kg/264.5 lbs. – Kyle Massey (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
96 kg/211.5 lbs. – Mark Stenberg (Lockport, Ill./USOEC)
63 kg/138.75 lbs. – Jenna Burkert (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
TITAN MERCURY WC LINEUP
55 kg/121 lbs. – Kyle Hutter (Virginia Beach, Va.)
60 kg/132 lbs. – B.J. Futrell (Champaign, Ill.)
66 kg/145.5 lbs. – Montell Marion (College Park, Md.)
84 kg/185 lbs. – Austin Trotman (Boone, N.C.)
120 kg/264.5 lbs. – Tyrell Fortune (Portland, Ore.)
96 kg/211.5 lbs. – Wynn Michalak (Champaign, Ill.)
63 kg/138.75 lbs. – Jennifer Page (Colorado Springs, Colo.)