Mitch McKee erased a pair of two-point deficits in the first period of a Thursday night exhibition in New York City against Asian junior champion Peiman Biabani and picked up a crucial reversal late to win on criteria, 8-8.
McKee found himself trailing early after Biabani got to the ankle to score two. McKee matched the takedown to even the score, but a takedown on the edge put the Iranian ahead 4-2 at the intermission.
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The moment that swung the match came early in the second when McKee countered a Biabani single with a four-point throw, transforming the two-point deficit into a two-point lead.
“I like my front head(locks) a lot,” McKee told USA Wrestling after the match. “He was up in the air with my leg so I was like `I can’t really do my front head from here.’ I had him stopped so I was like `I’ll try throwing it.’ I went straight back and threw it.”
After a step out gave McKee another point, Biabani answered with a takedown and a gutwrench and jumped in front for the third time in the bout, this time leading 8-7. McKee, as he had twice before, fired back. This time he scored a reversal to tie the match late with the criteria advantage in-hand.
McKee was one of four American junior wrestlers invited to wrestle in a set of exhibition matches against world-class Iranian opponents under the spring skies and the shadows of high-rises in Times Square. That foursome posted a combined 3-1 record on the evening.
“Any time you get to test yourself against guys from other countries around the world and see how you can do up against them, it’s exciting,” said McKee.
The U.S. also fared well at the senior level, where five Olympians posted a combined 4-1 record against international opponents. In men’s freestyle, J’Den Cox and Jordan Burroughs each won their matches over Iranian competitors. In women’s freestyle, Helen Maroulis and Adeline Gray swept a pair of Canadians. In the lone Greco match of the night, Andy Bisek fell to Olympic champion Kim Hyeon-Woo from South Korea.
All of the activity on Thursday night was part of the annual fundraising and celebratory gala for Beat the Streets. The mission of Beat the Streets is to develop the full human and athletic potential of urban youth and strengthen the culture of New York City wrestling.
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