FRISCO, Texas – Jordan Holm had the Pan Am Qualifiers in his sights right from the start of the season, and he made good on it, coming away with a gold medal and another weight qualified (85 kg) for the US Greco team. Holm was barely challenged throughout, cruising through his bracket with Yorgen Cova Pulido (VEN) providing the most resistance in what was a 3-0 victory for the American. With the weight now qualified, Holm (Minnesota Storm) can focus on Iowa City, which is where the 2016 Olympic Trials are set to take place in a little over a month.
Holm’s first victim was Alexander Brown-Thieriault (CAN/Black Bears Wrestling Club), a dual-style wrestler representing the country to the north. The points piled up quickly, as Holm raced out to an early lead before getting the tech to end it. Up next was the aforementioned Pulido, who played a tight yet controlled game, doing his best not to open up against Holm’s attacks. In the finals, Alfonso Yepez (MEX) (who pretty much appeared to want to be anywhere else but on that mat) had no answer for what was coming, despite his best efforts to scamper out of trouble. It was another tech fall for Jordan Holm and one that brought with it a gold medal.
The gauntlet has been thrown down. Holm wanted to accomplish qualifying the weight and he did just that. With the Olympic Trials looming ever closer, there is now approximately a four week break until the next battles begin. It’ll be interesting to see where and how things stack up in Iowa, but Jordan Holm has already planted his flag.
Close Call for Joe Rau
Joe Rau (98 kg/Minnesota Storm) had a great tournament. Impressive, even. The problem? He didn’t qualify the weight.
Rau’s day got twisted up in the semifinals, as Yasmany Cabrera (CUB) snagged a headlock that resulted in a fall. Rau came back nicely to earn a bronze via technical fall over David Albino (BR). Couple that with his first-round win over Pan Ams silver medalist Kevin Castillo (HON) and in any other circumstance, this would have been looked at as a very strong showing. There are two more shots for Rau and the other Americans who failed to qualify their weights: Mongolia in April and Turkey in May. While it would have been nice for the US to grab their qualifications before the trials, this isn’t exactly a path that hasn’t been paved before, either.
Hafizov Comes Up Short
Ildar Hafizov began the day on a high note, notching a breezy 9-2 win over Ali Mejias of Mexico. But he ran into trouble in his second match with Steven Takahashi (CAN) in what was a barn-burner of a bout with tons of scoring. Hafisov was actually in control towards the end. However, Takahashi kept coming and opportunistically hit on four points in the last ten seconds to down the Uzbek-American. Takahashi failed to make the finals, thus eliminating Hafizov.
This all leaves three weights still in need of qualification – 59 kg, 66 kg, and 98 kg. The trials will arrive sooner on the calendar than either of the other qualifiers. The US team now needs to regroup and zero in on its collective goal of coming out of Iowa City with the strongest representatives possible to get the job done. It’s not all a mess. There were strong performances both weekends. But there are issues US coach Matt Lindland is going to want to sort through before early April shows up.
Image credit: FreeJordan.org