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)



Pair of Indian World Medalists Fall Short of Finals on Last Day in New Delhi

By Ken Marantz

NEW DELHI (Feb. 23)—It was a tough day for a pair of Indian world medalists, as neither Rahul AWARE (IND) nor Deepak PUNIA (IND) advanced to the gold-medal matches on the final day of the Asian Championships on Sunday.

Indian hopes in the five freestyle finals in the night session at New Dehli’s K.D. Jahrav Wrestling Stadium will lie in Jitender JITENDER (IND), who earned a meeting with defending champion Daniyar KAISANOV (KAZ) for the 74kg title.

Kazakhstan, Japan and Iran all put two wrestlers into the finals, while Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, India and Mongolia have one each. 

Aware, a bronze medalist at last year’s World Championships in Nur-Sultan, was upended in the semifinals by world U-23 champion Ulubek ZHOLDOSHBEKOV (KGZ), who sewed up a 5-3 win with a takedown with 21 seconds left.

In the final, Zholdoshbekov, who won Asian bronzes in 2016 and 2018, will face Muhammad IKROMOV (TJK), a 4-4 winner on criteria over Ryuto SAKAKI (JPN). Ikromov will attempt to end Tajikistan’s 17-year quest for a second Asian gold medalist.

Against Zholdoshbekov, Aware trailed 2-0 when he challenged an exposure that was not called. He lost that challenge, but came back with a takedown that cut the deficit to 3-2. Except that he got the scores mixed up. 

“I thought I was leading 3-2, but it was him that was leading 3-2,” Aware said. “In my challenge, I wanted the points for my second action, but in the replay, they saw only the first action and finished. I was disturbed and wanted them to see the second action and I lost my focus. 

“I heard my name from the stands and I looked up to see who it was and then at the scoreboard to see the score. I have never lost my focus like this before in a bout. “

Zholdoshbekov then put the nail in the coffin with a takedown, although he also gave up a late penalty point. 

Aware had to survive a scare in the quarterfinals against Jahongirmirza TUROBOV (UZB). Trailing 8-6 heading into the second period, Aware came back to take a 10-9 into the final seconds. Turobov got in deep on a tackle and, with Aware atop his back, tried everything to expose him to the mat. With Aware pirouetting on his head on the mat, time ran out. A lost challenge point made it an 11-9 victory.

Shutaro YAMADA (JPN) defeated No. 3 Deepak PUNIA (IND) en route to the 86kg gold-medal match. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Punia, coming off winning the world junior title and the world senior silver medal over a one-month span last year at 86kg, met his match in unheralded Shutaro YAMADA (JPN), who wrapped up a 4-1 victory with a takedown with just under a minute to go.

“I’m so happy,” said Yamada, a sophomore at Yamanashi Gakuin University. “I knew that he wrestles like sumo or Greco-Roman. I watched many videos of him. My wrestling is similar. But more than techniques, it came down to a clash of wills.”

On gaining the late takedown, Yamada said, “To be sure of victory, I thought to put priority on defending rather than scoring points. This is the home of the opponent, which could be a disadvantage for me.”

Yamada appeared at both the world cadet and junior championships twice each, but never finished higher than fifth. Whether his first foray into an international senior event results in a gold or silver will depend on how he fares against Ahmad BAZRIGHALEH (IRI).

Bazrighaleh, the 2019 Asian U-23 champion, advanced with a 16-5 technical fall over Isa SHAPIEV (UZB).

Jitender made the 74kg final with a razor-thin 2-1 victory over Sumiyabazar ZANDANBUD (MGL), while Kaisanov swept aside Daichi TAKATANI (JPN), 9-4

“I never want to give up points, it doesn’t matter how many I score,” Jitender said. “If it’s 2-1 or 10-1, I still win.”

Most significantly, Jitender has clinched his first medal in five trips to the Asian Championships. “It cannot be a better platform to win my first medal, in front of the home crowd.”

Takuma OTSU (JPN) will take on Mohammadjavad EBRAHIMIZIVLAEI (IRI) in the 92kg finals. (Photo: Sachiko Hotaka)

The fight for the 92kg title has come down to a clash between 2018 Asian champion Mohammadjavad EBRAHIMIZIVLAEI (IRI) and Takuma OTSU (JPN), the Asian junior silver medalist that year. 

Ebrahimizivlaei advanced with a 10-2 win over Ajiniyaz SAPARNIYAZOV (UZB), while Otsu dominated Tsogtgerel MUNKHBAATAR (MGL) to win by 11-1 technical fall.

The final match of the tournament, for the 125kg gold, will pit 2019 world U-23 bronze medalist Yusup BATIRMURZAEV (KAZ) against Khuderbulga DORJKHAND (MGL).

In the semifinals, Batirmurzaev made short work of Parviz HADIBASMANJ (IRI), locking up his arms and slamming him onto his back with a lateral drop for a fall in 28 seconds. Dorjkhand, a 2016 Asian bronze medalist, ousted NAM Koungjin (KOR) 8-0.

Day 5 Results


61kg (13 entries)
SEMIFINAL – Muhammad IKROMOV (TJK) df. Ryuto SAKAKI (JPN), 4-4

74kg (12 entries)
SEMIFINAL – Jitender JITENDER (IND) df. Sumiyabazar ZANDANBUD (MGL), 2-1

86kg (9 entries)
SEMIFINAL – Ahmad BAZRIGHALEH (IRI) df. Isa SHAPIEV (UZB) by TF, 16-5, 5:24
SEMIFINAL – Shutaro YAMADA (JPN) df. Deepak PUNIA (IND), 4-1

92kg (8 entries)
SEMIFINAL – Takuma OTSU (JPN) df. Tsogtgerel MUNKHBAATAR (MGL) by TF, 11-1, 2:25

125kg (12 entries)
SEMIFINAL – Khuderbulga DORJKHAND (MGL) df. NAM Koungjin (KOR), 8-0
SEMIFINAL – Yusup BATIRMURZAEV (KAZ) df. Parviz HADIBASMANJ (IRI) by Fall, :28 (4-0)