buenos aires

Four Olympic Champions Make Up 2019 Pan American Championships Field

By Taylor Miller

Pictured: Erica WIEBE (CAN) at the 2018 World Championships. Photo by Martin Gabor.  

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Six Olympic medalists, including four Olympic champions, highlight the field at the 2019 Senior Pan American Championships in Buenos Aires, Argentina, April 18-21. Each style has at least one Olympic champion in the field.

Men’s freestyle, April 20-21
Three of the four Olympic medalists in the men’s freestyle brackets come from USA, including 2012 champion Jordan BURROUGHS, 2016 champion Kyle SNYDER and 2016 bronze medalist J’den COX.

All three Americans own Senior World titles with Burroughs winning gold in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017, Snyder claiming the crown in 2015 and 2017 and Cox earning his first last October.  

The final Olympic medalist in men’s freestyle is Jaime Yusept ESPINAL (PUR). A 2012 Olympic silver medalist, Espinal, who will compete at 97 kg, will battle for his first Pan Am Championships medal.

The United States boasts three other World medalists.

David TAYLOR won gold in 2018, battling through a tough 86 kg bracket for his first World championship. Taylor looks to defend his 2018 Pan American title.

Two-time World bronze medalist Nick GWIAZDOWSKI and 2018 World bronze winner and returning Pan Am champion Joe COLON will represent the U.S. at 125 kg and 61 kg, respectively.

Both athletes will have World medalists in their brackets this week.

At 61 kg, reigning Senior World champion and two-time World bronze medalist Yowlys BONNE RODRIGUEZ (CUB) looks for his first Pan American Championships medal since 2016 and third overall. Bonne Rodriguez won the tournament in 2005 and 2012 and took bronze in 2016.

Looking to challenge Gwiazdowski is two-time World bronze medalist Oscar PINO HINDS (CUB), who is a three-time defending Pan Am champion.

In addition to Bonne Rodriguez and Pino Hinds, Cuba brings a strong freestyle roster to the tournament this weekend, including 2017 U23 World champion Reineri ANDREU ORTEGA at 57 kg and multiple-time Senior World medalist Reineris SALAS PEREZ at 97 kg. Both are returning Pan Am champions.

Women’s freestyle, April 19-20
2016 Olympic champion Erica WIEBE (CAN) will compete this week at 76 kg. Most recently, she finished fifth at the 2018 World Championships in Budapest. Winning the weight at Worlds last year was Adeline GRAY (USA), who looks to repeat 2018 Pan Am gold-medal performance.

Gray, a four-time World champion, defeated Wiebe in the World semifinals in October.

Canada also brings 2018 World bronze medalist Diana WEICKER at 53 kg and multiple-time age-group World medalist Braxton STONE at 62 kg.

In order to take the Pan Am crown at 53 kg, Weicker will have go through 2018 World silver medalist and returning Pan Am champion Sarah HILDEBRANDT (USA).

Stone will have 2018 Senior World bronze winner Mallory VELTE (USA) and 2018 Pan Am champion Yaquelin ESTORNELL ELIZASTIGUE (CUB) in her bracket.

Also repping Cuba is 2018 Senior World bronze medalist Lianna MONTERO HERRERA at 57 kg and 2018 U23 World champion Yudari SANCHEZ RODRIGUEZ at 68 kg.

It’s possible that 2018 Pan American champion Sanchez Rodriguez could face 2018 World medalist Tamyra MENSAH-STOCK (USA) this weekend. Mensah-Stock defeated the Cuban at the 2018 Senior World Championships.

There are three other age-group World medalists in the field, counting 2011 Junior World bronze medalist Luisa VALVERDE MELENDRES (ECU), 2015 Junior World bronze medalist and 2018 Pan Am champion Alejandra ROMERO BONILLA (MEX) and 2013 Junior World runner-up and two-time Junior World bronze medalist Erin GOLSTON (USA).

Greco-Roman, April 18-19
Seven of the 10 2018 Pan American champions in Greco-Roman return to the continental championships this year, with Cuba, USA and Venezuela each brining two.

For Cuba, it’s Luis ORTA SANCHEZ at 60 kg and five-time Pan American champion Ismael BORRERO MOLINA at 67 kg.

In addition to his Pan Am success, Borrero Molina is a 2016 Olympic champion and 2015 World champion.

USA returns Ryan MANGO, the continental champ at 63 kg, and RaVaughn PERKINS, who won it at 72 kg last year.

The United States also boasts 2018 Senior World silver medalist Adam Coon at 130 kg, 2017 Junior World champion Kamal Bey at 77 kg and Junior World medalists Ellis COLEMAN at 67 kg and G’Angelo HANCOCK at 97 kg.

Representing Venezuela are 2018 Pan Am champions Luis AVENDANO ROJAS at 87 kg and Luillys PEREZ MORA at 97 kg. Avendano Rojas moves up a weight after winning the title at 82 kg last year.

Others to watch out for in Greco-Roman are 2018 Pan Am champion Sargis KHACHATRYAN (BRA) at 55 kg and two-time age-group medalist Kevin MEJIA CASTILLO (HON) at 97 kg.

Thursday, April 18
10 a.m. – Qualification rounds (GR 55-60-63-67-72-97-130kg)
4:30 p.m. – Opening Ceremonies
5 p.m. – Finals (GR 55-60-63-67-72-97-130kg)

Friday, April 19
10 a.m. – Qualification rounds (GR 77-82-87kg & WW 55-59-65-72kg)
5 p.m. – Finals (GR 77-82-87kg & WW 55-59-65-72kg)

Saturday, April 20
10 a.m. – Qualification rounds (WW 50-53-57-62-68-76kg & FS 79-92kg)
5 p.m. – Finals (WW 50-53-57-62-68-76kg & FS 79-92kg)

Sunday, April 21
10 a.m. – Qualification rounds (FS – 57-61-65-70-74-86-97-125kg)
5 p.m. – Finals (FS – 57-61-65-70-74-86-97-125kg)



Russia Wins Greco-Roman Team Title; Kamal Claims Third Junior World Gold

By Eric Olanowski

TALLINN, Estonia (August 18) – The Russian Federation joined their fellow freestyle countrymen as junior world team champions, while Kerem KAMAL (TUR) gained ownership of his third consecutive junior world title.

Russia entered the final day of wrestling in Tallinn, Estonia, with the seven-point team lead over Iran, and ended with winning the team title by 37 points. They closed out the Junior World Championships with three additional medals – bringing their overall total to seven junior world medal winners. In total, Russia had four world champs, a pair of silver medalists, and a bronze-medal finisher. 

Sergei STEPANOV (RUS) joined Greco-Roman teammates Anvar ALLAKHIAROV (55kg), Abu AMAEV (63kg) and Ilia ERMOLENKO (87kg) as junior world champs. 

Stepanov, who said the plan coming into the final “was to be first,” collected two points in the first period and one point in the second period and snatched his first world title with a gritty 3-1 victory over Ulvu GANIZADE (AZE). After his win, Stepanov said, “I can’t say (how I feel), I’m just so emotional.”

In the opening period of the finals, Stepanov scored two points from inactivity point and step-out point and carried the 2-0 lead into the closing period. The second period was scoreless until the 65-second mark when Stepanov was thrown down in par terre after being hit for inactivity. He escaped without surrendering a point and managed to tack on a point of his own after a failed leg-foul challenge from the Azerbaijani corner. Stepanov ultimately held on to win, 3-1 -- giving Russia their fourth Greco-Roman gold medal of the tournament, but more importantly, the team title. “Russia is so strong, and I am so happy to become team champions.” 

Kerem KAMAL (TUR) won his third junior world title with a 7-2 win over Sahak HOVHANNISYAN (ARM) in the 60kg finals. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Meanwhile, Kerem Kamal held up three fingers to the crowd, signaling his possession of a third consecutive junior world title after he defeated Sahak HOVHANNISYAN (ARM), 7-2 in the 60kg gold-medal bout. “I’m very happy to win the third gold medal in the junior category. I was before in the cadet finals three times and I lost,” said Kamal.  

In his finals match, the Turkish wrestler trailed after the first period, but he expected to be in that position. “The match plan was (to be) safe in the first (period)…Safety first.” The second period was pivotal for Kamal in grasping his third junior world gold. After playing it safe in the first period, Kamal said, “In the second period, I go full power.” And that’s exactly what he did. In the final three minutes, Kamal earned an inactivity point and got to work quickly -- smothering Hovhannisyan with a right-side gut wrench follow by a four-point lift from the right side and commanded the 7-1 lead. He conceded a second-period point but ended up carrying the Turkish flag around the mat at a Junior World Championships for the third consecutive year with a 7-2 victory. 

Giorgi SHOTADZE (GEO) defeated Shant KHACHATRYAN (ARM), 6-3 in the 67kg finals and captured his second age-group world title. His first came at the 2016 Cadet World Championships in Tbilisi, Georgia. 

Final Trio of Day Seven Champions
In the 67kg finals, Giorgi SHOTADZE (GEO) and Shant KHACHATRYAN (ARM) exchanged one-point sequences, but it was the Georgian who headed into the second period with the lead on criteria. A stepout 15 seconds into the second period, followed by a four-point throw with 25 seconds left gave the reigning European champion his second world title and first since winning the 2016 Cadet World Championship in Tbilisi, Georgia. 

Istvan TAKACS (HUN) scored 48 offensive points on his way to the 82kg title. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Istvan TAKACS (HUN) stopped Russia from winning their second gold medal of the night with a 7-1 statement win over Aues GONIBOV (RUS) in the 82kg finals. “I came for the gold, and I got it,” Takacs said after the award ceremony.  

In the opening period, the Hungarian traded inactivity points with his Russian opponent but wasn’t too worried because it was all a part of his initial game plan. “The plan was to defend the first par terre position, then pick up my points.” He successfully defended the par terre, and when it was his turn, he capitalized on his opportunity -- scoring six points from a pair of two-point lifts and a leg foul.  

Takas closed out the Junior World Championships scoring 48 offensive points. When asked about his offensive efficiency, Takas said, “I thought about it before the matches. I wanted to win by one or two points, but in the matches, I felt good and the points just came... Everything clicked.” 

With his win on Sunday night, Takas became Hungary’s first junior world champion since 2012, when Baliant LAM won the 120kg title in Pattaya, Thailand. 

Gabriel ROSILLO KINDELAN (CUB) easily handled Patrick NEUMAIER (GER), 8-0 in the 97kg gold-medal bout. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

At 97kg, it only took 74 seconds for Cuba’s Gabriel ROSILLO KINDELAN to impose his will on Patrick NEUMAIER (GER) and pick up the technical superiority victory. The Cuban suplexed his way to a four-point lead, then stacked on a takedown and a gut wrench -- giving Cuba their first junior Greco-Roman world title since Yasmany LUGO CABRERA’S (CUB) 2009 world title run in Ankara, Turkey.


Final Greco-Roman Team Scores
GOLD - Russia (157 points)

SILVER - Iran (121 points)
BRONZE - Turkey (117 points)
Fourth - Georgia (91 points)
Fifth - Hungary (62 points)

GOLD - Kerem KAMAL (TUR) df. Sahak HOVHANNISYAN (ARM), 7-2
BRONZE - Georgii TIBILOV (RUS) df. Diego CHKHIKVADZE (GEO), 5-2 
BRONZE - Asgar ALIZADA (AZE) df. Talastan KANZHARBEK UULU (KGZ), 11-2 

GOLD - Giorgi SHOTADZE (GEO) df. Shant KHACHATRYAN (ARM), 6-3 
BRONZE - Peyton Louis OMANIA (USA)  df. Xin HUANG (CHN), 6-5 
BRONZE - Valentin PETIC (MDA) df. Abdul Samet BASAR (TUR), 3-1

GOLD - Sergei STEPANOV (RUS) df. Ulvu GANIZADE (AZE), 3-1 
BRONZE - Ihor BYCHKOV (UKR)  df. Rasmus Lilleman AASTROEM (SWE), via fall 
BRONZE - Mohammadreza Mahmoud ROSTAMI (IRI) df. Ismail GUN (TUR), 6-5 

GOLD - Istvan TAKACS (HUN) df. Aues GONIBOV (RUS), 7-1 
BRONZE - Dogan KAYA (TUR) df. Lucas Alexandros LAZOGIANIS (GER), 8-6 

GOLD - Gabriel Alejandro ROSILLO KINDELAN (CUB) df. Patrick NEUMAIER (GER), 8-0 
BRONZE - Uladzislau PUSTASHYLAU (BLR) df. Gerard Cyprian KURNICZAK (POL), 3-1 
BRONZE - Beytullah KAYISDAG (TUR) df. Alex Gergo SZOKE (HUN), 1-1