Grapple at the Garden 2, the Dec. 1 college wrestling event at Madison Square Garden, just got bigger, with the addition of four more college teams… and a dream match-up between two of the most electrifying former college wrestlers in recent history, MSG Sports announced Friday.
Cornell University grad Kyle Dake, who won his fourth NCAA title last March, will take on Bubba Jenkins, 2011 NCAA champ for Arizona State who’s now emerging mixed martial arts star, in the first-ever freestyle wrestling main event in the 134-year history of the famed New York City arena.
In addition, four local college programs – New York University, Stevens Institute of Technology, Stony Brook University, and Westchester Community College – have been added to the roster of 12 other teams originally announced for Grapple at the Garden 2 back in June.
Dake vs. Jenkins
The two great former middleweight college wrestling champs have a combined six appearances in title matches at the NCAAs. And while they share a common vanquished finals opponent – Penn State’s David Taylor, who Jenkins pinned to win the 149-pound championship in 2011, and Dake defeated 5-4 to claim his fourth title at 165 in 2013 – the two had not wrestled each other in college.
Since college, Dake and Jenkins have taken different paths. The former Cornell champ is now competing in freestyle, while Jenkins is now in MMA, winning all four of his first matches in decisive fashion before suffering a stunning TKO upset loss at Bellator 100 last Saturday in Phoenix.
Despite differing career paths, Dake and Jenkins share a flair for saying just the right thing to pump up interest in their Grapple at the Garden 2 main event.
“It is very exciting to once again compete on one of the greatest stages in the world, in one of the greatest cities in the world,” said Dake. “Personally, I am also really excited to compete against Bubba Jenkins. As a two-time NCAA national finalist, all wrestling fans know he is a great competitor. This year’s Grapple at the Garden event will be groundbreaking for the sport of wrestling, and promises to inspire thousands of young athletes as they chase their dreams.”
Jenkins echoed that sentiment, saying, “I am super excited about taking my wrestling talents to the biggest and baddest city in the world to showcase my skills under the bright lights of the illustrious Madison Square Garden. It is a tremendous honor to have been chosen to wrestle in the Grapple at the Garden event, and one which I take with immense pride and will never forget. As my fans and friends already know, I am a big-match, big-move athlete. Come December 1, while wrestling one of the greatest wrestlers our sport has ever seen, Kyle Dake, New York City sports fans will learn that about me as well. I am humbled to compete in this historic freestyle wrestling match in The World’s Most Famous Arena.”
A bigger-than-ever field of collegiate competition
In terms of the number of teams taking to the mat at Madison Square Garden, this year’s field at Grapple at the Garden 2 has already surpassed last year’s inaugural event, with 16 teams for the one-day dual-meet event this December, compared to 12 in 2012.
Joining Army, Bloomsburg, Boston University, Cornell, Drexel, George Mason, Hofstra, Illinois, Maryland, Penn, Princeton and Rutgers will be four New York area wrestling programs: Stevens Institute of Technology vs. NYU in an NCAA Division III matchup, along with a dual meet between the men’s club teams from Stony Brook University and Westchester Community College.
Three schools will be returning to their second Grapple at the Garden event: Hofstra, Maryland, and Rutgers. What’s more, half of this year’s participants — Illinois, Cornell, Bloomsburg, Penn, Maryland and Rutgers — finished the 2012-13 season ranked within the top 25.
Grapple at the Garden 2 will feature a format similar to last year’s event, consisting of two separate sessions. The 10:00 a.m. session will feature Maryland vs. Cornell, Rutgers vs. George Mason, Illinois vs. Bloomsburg, Hofstra vs. Army, Boston University vs. Penn, and Drexel vs. Princeton. The second session, scheduled to begin at noon, will include Cornell vs. Illinois, Rutgers vs. Maryland, Princeton vs. Army, Bloomsburg vs. Penn, George Mason vs. Drexel, and Hofstra vs. Boston University.
Tickets start at $20.00 and can be purchased at the Madison Square Garden box office, all Ticketmaster outlets and online.
Want to relive the first Grapple at the Garden? A special 30-minute DVD titled “Inside Trip: Grapple at the Garden” promises a behind-the-scenes look at the first event. Available for purchase online at www.XCELONLINESTORE.com. For a wrap-up and match results from the 2012 Grapple at the Garden, check out this article from College Wrestling Examiner.
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