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Askren brothers, Craig Becker, Chris Heilman winners at Agon Wrestling III

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Brothers Ben and Max Askren, Craig Becker and Chris Heilman came out victorious at the Agon Wrestling III: Festival of Funk in front of 3,413 fans at Williams Center at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Sunday afternoon.

In the co-main event matches, both Askrens scored come-from-behind wins, with Max Askren defeating Ben Bennett, while his older brother Ben topped Mike Poeta in overtime.

Poeta, a two-time finalist for the University of Illinois, scored five unanswered points until Ben Askren, two-time NCAA champ for the University of Missouri, scored a push-out to get on the board. The elder Askren – a 2008 Olympian – had a 9-7 lead in the third period when Poeta got a takedown with ten seconds left, sending the match into overtime knotted at 9-9, the first time that had happened in any of the three Agon Wrestling Championships. Askren broke the tie with a takedown to win the match, 11-9 OT.

“It was an incredible battle. Mike came to wrestle,” said Ben Askren. “I had a tough time slowing down his speed and power but I was able to make a comeback and finished it off in overtime.”

Max Askren, 2010 NCAA champ for the Missouri Tigers, came from a ten-point deficit to defeat Bennett, a four-time NCAA All-American from Central Michigan, 19-10. The former Chippewa scored eight unanswered points in the first period, then got a takedown early in the second. However, that was the extent of Bennett’s scoring, as the younger Askren scored 19 points in the second and third periods to erase the deficit and take the lead.

“I can’t believe I gave up that first score but I guess in the end you can’t stop the funk,” said Max Askren. “I gave up eight points in the first period fighting for position when I should have just taken the takedown and let go at that.”

In other Agon III action, Craig Becker, a 2010 NCAA Division II 149-pound champ for University of Wisconsin-Parkside, earned a 25-0 superior decision over John Mesenbrink, a former wrestler at St. Louis Community College and Drake University who went on to coach the Askrens in high school, and is now a coach at the Wisconsin-based Askren Wrestling Academy. In addition, former Cornell College of Iowa wrestler Chris Heilman, now an assistant at UW-Whitewater, defeated Luke Smith, an NCAA qualifier at Central Michigan who is now on the staff at Eastern Michigan, 18-11.

Both Askrens, along with Bennett, had competed in earlier Agon Wrestling Championships events. Ben Askren came out on top of Penn State mat champ Quentin Wright in the main event at Agon Wrestling I: The Revolution in Las Vegas in October, while his younger brother and Bennett both participated at last month’s Agon II in Flint, Mich., where Max Askren outscored Sam Wendland, while Bennett fell to former Cornell mat champ Cam Simaz.

As with the previous two Agon events, matches were wrestled following unique rules that drew heavily from collegiate folkstyle. One significant difference: the Agon bouts were nine minutes (three equal three-minute periods) instead of seven minutes in college.

Agon Wrestling Championships has additional events planned, with Agon IV slated for northern California on March 15, according to the organization’s press release issued after Agon III.

“Agon” comes from Greek word describing a one-on-one, no-holds-barred contest where human nature was tested to the limits. “Agon” is the root of English words “antagonist” and “agony.”

Agon is one of at least three new ventures that offer prize money to post-collegiate wrestlers competing in amateur-style wrestling events. Tour ACW (Association of Career Wrestlers) had a test event in Pittsburgh in August, while Victory Wrestling Challenge – a product of Victory Fighting Championships, an Omaha-based MMA promotion – put on its inaugural event in its hometown in November. Each venture has its own rules and distinctive format; however, all provide wrestlers with an income alternative to entering MMA, professional wrestling or football.

Want to know more about Agon Wrestling Championships? Watch video of all four Agon Wrestling III: Festival of Funk matches online. Readers may follow Agon on Twitter... Facebook... and visit their official website.

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