photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com
Three gold medals by the US men’s freestyle team on Saturday marks the end of a hugely successful Pan-American Games. Across the three different styles, nine Americans come home with gold medals, and 14 total wrestlers medaled.
The final day of action from Lima, Peru saw Jordan Burroughs (74 kg), Kyle Snyder (97 kg), and Nick Gwiazdowski all come away victorious. Burroughs earned his gold medal with a 4-1 victory of Michigan State national champion and former world silver medalist Franklin Gomez (Puerto Rico). Snyder’s title came after he downed Jose Diaz Roberti (Venezuela), 9-3. In the semi’s, Kyle got by world medalist Reineris Salas Perez (Cuba), 3-1. The big man Gwiazdowski looked as good as ever by teching all three of his opponents on the day, all without surrendering a single point. The men’s freestyle team also added another medal as Patrick Downey racked up a fall over Alexander Moore (Canada) to secure the bronze medal at 86 kg.
The other two members of the men’s freestyle contingent, Daton Fix (57 kg) and Jaydin Eierman (65 kg), had already claimed their hardware. Fix won his gold medal with an 11-0 tech in the finals over Juan Ramirez Beltre (Dominican Republic), but his most significant win came in the semifinals over Reineri Andreu Ortega (Cuba), a 2017 U23 World Champion. Andreu Ortega was also fifth in the world at the Senior level in 2018. Fix got his hand raised over the Cuban after winning 4-1. Eierman bounced back from a loss to a world medalist from Cuba by winning the bronze medal after a 15-4 tech of Agustin Destribats (Argentina).
Not to be outdone by their counterparts on the men’s team, the women’s freestyle team also came away from Lima with four gold medals. World silver medalist Sarah Hildebrandt led the charge for the US women and showed that she is ready to threaten for the gold in Kazakhstan with her performance at 53 kg. Hildebrandt did not give up a point in her three matches and outscored her competition 28-0. Another returning world medalist that shined was Tamyra Mensah-Stock at 68 kg. Tamyra pinned Canada’s Olivia Di Bacco in the tournament’s finals to earn the gold medal. It was the second fall by Mensah-Stock in her three bouts.
Perhaps the American wrestler with the most “quality wins” was Kayla Miracle, the gold medalist at 62 kg. Miracle started her tournament by pinning the number two-ranked wrestler in the world Lais Nunes de Oliveira (Brazil), while up 8-1. It was more of the same in the semi’s when Kayla pinned world #20 Nathali Griman Herrera (Venezuela). In the gold medal match, Miracle dominated World and Olympic bronze medalist Jackie Renteria Castillo (Colombia), 12-0.
The fourth American woman to win gold this week was Whitney Conder at 50 kg. Conder downed the #17 ranked wrestler in the world Yusneylis Guzman Lopez (Cuba), 10-2. Guzman Lopez was the winner earlier this year at the Pan-American Championships. To make the finals, Conder was able to turn in back-to-back victories on technical superiority.
The lone American Greco-Roman wrestler to bring home gold was Pat Smith at 77 kg. In his typical fashion, Smith earned his finals win by a hard-fought 3-2 decision over two-time Olympian Wuilexis Rivas Espinoza (Venezuela).
G’Angelo Hancock at 97 kg was the only other American to make the finals in Greco. Hancock ran into a budding superstar for Cuba, Gabriel Rosillo Kindelan and fell, 7-2. So far, in 2019, Rosillo Kindelan has won the Pan-American Championships at the Junior and Senior level, the Cerro Pelado International, and the Takhti Cup. The remaining medalists for the United States were Ildar Hafizov and Ellis Coleman at 60 kg and 67 kg, respectively.
The Pan-American Games were the last tune-up for the Americans who will now set their sites on preparing for the World Championships which take place September 14th-22nd from Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.