Photos by Richard Immel, USA Wrestling
Over three days in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a talented group of Cadet men and women from Team USA put on a record-setting performance at the 2017 Cadet Pan American Championships. Beginning with Greco-Roman competition on Friday, continuing on Saturday with women’s freestyle, and culminating in men’s freestyle on Sunday, two things remained constant. First, every single American wrestler medaled in every style they competed in. Second, Team USA claimed the team title on all three days. On their way to victory, American wrestlers took home 15 gold medals, nine silvers, and five bronzes. The 29 medals claimed is the most by the US at any Cadet Pan American Championships in the United World Wrestling database, just one of the records set by this fantastic group.
Minnesota is well known for their Greco prowess and a pair of their wrestlers got Team USA off to a fast start on day one. Carson Manville (Shakopee, MN) and Peyton Robb (Medford, MN) refused to surrender a single point on their way to earning gold medals at 58 kg and 69 kg respectively. Joining those two on the top step of the podium were Jace Punke (Eureka, IL) at 100 kg and Tommy Curran (Warrenville, IL) at 42 kg. Curran survived a wild round-robin where everyone lost at least once. His pin of Juan Munoz Diaz (Chile) in his final match of the day clinched the title at the lowest weight class.
Parker Decker (Keller, TX, 46 kg), Hunter Lewis (Stoughton, WI, 50 kg), Michael O’Malley (Hasbrouck Heights, NJ, 76 kg), and Hunter DeJong (Little Rock, IA, 85 kg) all claimed silver medals. King Sandoval (Waldorf, MD, 54 kg) and Kevon Davenport (Pontiac, MI, 63 kg) finished with bronze. In all, Team USA finished with 92 points in Greco, outpacing runner-up Mexico (76) and third-place Argentina (57).
Saturday morning saw nine women making their way to the mat with the US not sending an athlete to contest 38 kg. While the performance of the Greco team was excellent, the women’s freestyle team topped it, putting up a nearly flawless performance on their way to a record haul of gold medals. Four American women ended each of their matches with a pin or a shutout tech on their way to claiming titles. Caitlyn Walker (Hatboro, PA) earned a pair of falls and an 11-0 victory en route to the championship at 40 kg. Walker was the runner-up a year ago at 38 kg but was not to be denied this time around. Angel Rios (Arvada, CO, 46 kg) had a similar day, posting three falls and a 10-0 tech, ending her day wearing a gold medal of her own. Macey Kilty (Stratford, WI, 60 kg) added Pan Am gold to her growing collection of medals that also includes a Cadet World bronze. She ran off victories of 10-0, 10-0, and 12-0 on the day. Hannah Ramos (Kenosha, WI, 65 kg) rounded out the Americans who yielded no classification points to their opponents, pinning her Peruvian opponent in 1:48 and shutting out Ecuador, 10-0.
Cameron Guerin (Yakima, WA, 52 kg) was a bronze medalist here in 2016 and came within one point of joining the four mentioned above. I’m sure she won’t lose any sleep over her gold medal performance, adding a 7-1 decision to a 43-second fall and a 10-0 tech. Tilynne Vasquez (Kalispell, MT, 49 kg) also gave up just one point, winning by forfeit, fall, and a 6-1 decision over Canadian Melissa Fryer to cement one of six gold medals, the most ever by Team USA in Cadet women’s freestyle at the Pan Ams. Michaela Beck (New York, NY, 56 kg) likely would have been number seven, but she suffered a broken collar bone in her 7-2 decision over Mexico and had to forfeit her final bout. Beck’s three wins earned her a bronze medal.
Samara Chavez (Arlington, TX, 43 kg) and Tiyahna Askew (Lawrenceville, GA, 70 kg) were the only Americans to taste defeat on Saturday, but both lost just once, claiming silver medals and helping Team USA earn eight top two finishes, another record for Team USA in this event and discipline. As you might expect with such a dominant performance, Team USA ran away with the team title, earning 86 points while Mexico (59) and Canada (57) battled for second.
Yesterday, the same 10 men who claimed medals for the United States in Greco circled back for the freestyle tournament to close the event. Once again the Minnesota duo of Manville and Robb claimed gold, with Robb refusing to allow his opponents a single point once again. Manville outscored his three rivals 30-4 overall. However, it was O’Malley who stole the show on his way to Outstanding Wrestler honors. After his runner-up finish in Greco, O’Malley churned out three consecutive 10-0 techs, ensuring he wouldn’t come up short this time. Decker was another Greco silver medalist to climb a step higher on Sunday. The Texan had a couple of good battles, but wound up on top each time, earning a hard fought championship. DeJong pulled the trick of turning silver to gold as well, pinning two opponents, posting a 10-0 tech, and scoring a 10-4 decision to easily win his round robin.
Lewis, Sandoval, and Punke earned silver medals in freestyle while Curran and Davenport claimed bronze. In all, the men went 20 for 20, medaling in every weight contested over the weekend across freestyle and Greco, helping Team USA win a medal at all 29 weights they entered across all three styles. The men’s freestyle team title was the closest race of the weekend with Team USA finishing five points in front of Canada, who medaled in nine weights with a fourth place finish at the other, 93-88. Mexico was third after runner-up finishes in the other two disciplines.