SANTIAGO, Chile – The United States won three gold medals in Greco-Roman at the Pan American Championships on Friday.
Claiming titles were Pat Smith (Minneapolis, Minn./Minnesota Storm) at 71 kg/156.5 lbs., Joe Rau (Minneapolis, Minn./Minnesota Storm) at 80 kg/176 lbs. and Robby Smith (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) at 130 kg/286 lbs. For all three, it was their first career Pan American Championships title.
With all eight athletes scoring team points, the United States won the team title with 68 points, followed by Cuba with 58 points and Venezuela with 54 points. Cuba won the other five weight classes which were not won by the Americans.
“Our Greco athletes competed well. We overcame some adversity and are coming home with the team title and three individual champions. Our team keeps making steps in the right direction. This is a great mix of guys, some young athletes and Greco newcomers, along with former World Team members,” said National Greco-Roman Coach Matt Lindland.
Robby Smith, a two-time World Team member, defeated Ramon Antonio Garcia of the Dominican Republic, 1-0 in the finals. He ran through his half-bracket, scoring an 8-0 tech fall over Luciano Del Rio of Argentina and a pin over
Charles Thoms of Canada.
It was Smith’s third career Pan American Championships medal, to go along with silver medals in 2011 and 2013.
Pat Smith and Joe Rau won their round-robin and claimed gold medals at their non-Olympic weight classes. Smith won four matches and Rau won three to claim their gold medals. Both were dominant, as Smith had four technical falls, while Rau had a pin and two technical falls.
Rau was a member of the 2014 U.S. World Team, while Smith was second at the 2014 U.S. Open.
Claiming silver medals were two-time Olympian Spenser Mango (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army WCAP) at 59 kg/130 lbs. and 2015 NCAA champion from Cornell, Gabe Dean (Lowell, Mich./Titan Mercury WC/Finger Lakes WC) at 85 kg/185 lbs. Both were beaten by Cuban opponents in the finals.
Mango won three straight dominant matches on his side of the bracket to reach the finals, where he lost to Maykel Anache Lamouth of Cuba, 1-3. For Lamouth, it was his second career Pan American Championships gold, to go with a victory in 2011. Lamouth was also a 2007 Junior World bronze medalist.
Mango now has three Pan American medals, with another silver in 2009 and a bronze in 2013. Mango has placed fifth in the World Championships the last two years (2013 and 2014).
Dean, who has limited Greco-Roman experience, won his first two matches, stopping Querys Jose Perez Mora of Venezuela, 6-1 and pinning Luis Angel Betancourt Medina of Puerto Rico. In the championship finals, he lost to
Gilberto Piquet Herrera of Cuba, 0-4. Piquet won his second Pan American gold medal, to go along with the 2013 title.
Winning a bronze medals was Caylor Williams (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army WCAP) at 98 kg/215 lbs., who defeated Kevin Mejia Castillo of Honduras in the bronze-medal bout, 4-0
Two other U.S. athletes lost their bronze-medal bouts and placed fifth: Alejandro Sancho, Miami, Fla. (New York AC/USOTS) at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. and Mason Manville, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Minnesota Storm) at 75 kg/165 lbs.
This is the final qualifying event for the 2015 Pan American Games, which will be hosted in Toronto, Canada, July 15-18.
Coming in, the USA had only been qualified at 75 kg in Greco-Roman for the Pan American Games. Based upon their performances in Chile, the USA qualified the other five Olympic weight classes, adding qualifiers at 59 kg, 66 kg, 85 kg, 98 kg and 130 kg. The top five non-qualified placers in each weight qualified their nation for Toronto.
Eight U.S. women freestyle wrestlers have weighed in and received their draws for their competition on Saturday, which are posted below.
Coming in, the U.S. women had only qualified for the Pan American Games at 48 kg. They will be seeking to qualify at the other five Olympic weight classes (53 kg, 58 kg, 63 kg, 69 kg and 75 kg)