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Monday Roundup: 2023 PAN-AM GAMES WEEK

kamal bey, 2023 pan-am games
Kamal Bey -- Photo: Tony Rotundo

The 2023 Pan-American Games, one of the most important tournaments of the quadrennium for the United States, takes place this week in Santiago, Chile. The US roster has been known for quite some time, for it was determined this past June at Final X: Newark. Those who made the ’23 World Team in the Olympic weight categories automatically received spots on the US squad for the aforementioned Games.

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However, Team USA Greco-Roman will be without a representative at 67 kilograms, as the second-lightest Olympic weight was not qualified on behalf of the US program. Selection procedures for the Pan-American Games are cumbersome in nature and derived from placings/participation at continental events that had been held within the past two years. The US did not have a placewinner in the 67 kg category at either the ’22 or ’23 Senior Pan-Am Championships, though Dominic Damon (NMU/NTS) did place third in the U20 version of the tournament in December of ’21. The US also did not technically qualify an athlete for 130 kilograms but Cohlton Schultz (Sunkist) will be competing in Chile due to the nation having been awarded a wildcard spot in the weight class.

Powerhouse Cuba does not prioritize non-Olympic categories at continental events, which has often hurt them in the team race at the Pan-Am Championships. The Games (as well as February’s Olympic Qualifier) are a different story. Cuba is expected to be out in full force with all six of the Olympic weights occupied led by ’20 Olympic/’23 World Champion Luis Orta Sanchez (67 kg), ’23 World champ Gabriel Rosillo Kindelan, and, of course, four-time Olympic gold medalist Mijain Lopez (130 kg). Lopez, 41, was announced as part of Cuba’s roster for this year back in July and already owns five titles from the event.

Cuba is also formidable at 77 kg with Yosvanys Pena Flores, who took third at the Games in ’19 and has been a strong competitor elsewhere when given the opportunity. In the sport’s lightest weight class it is anticipated that CUB will start Kevin de Armas Rodrigues, who placed third at the Championships in May and was permitted a roster spot for the Worlds last month.

It should also be noted that turnover for Cuba since the previous Pan-Am Games has been minimal. de Armas Rodrigues is the only competitor on this year’s squad who was uninvolved in ’19. That year, Orta Sanchez (who earned bronze) was at 60 kg while ’16 Olympic/two-time World champ (and the presumed next coach for the US Olympic Training Center) Ismael Borrero Molina conducted business at 67.

Cuba Returning Pan-Am Games Medalists

67 kg: Luis Orta Sanchez — bronze at 60 kg
77 kg: Yosvanys Pena Flores — bronze at 77 kg
87 kg: Daniel Gregorich Hechavarria — bronze at 87 kg
97 kg: Gabriel Rosillo Kindelan — gold at 97 kg
130 kg: Mijain Lopez — gold at 130 kg

2023 Team USA Pan-Am Games Roster

60 kg: Ildar Hafizov (Army/WCAP)
77 kg: Kamal Bey (Army/WCAP)
87 kg: Zac Braunagel (IRTC)
97 kg: Joe Rau (TMWC)
130 kg: Cohlton Schultz (Sunkist)

The US put forth a very strong performance in ’19 with Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm) coming away with gold at 77 kg. G’Angelo Hancock placed second; and Hafizov and Ellis Coleman (Army/WCAP) both earned bronze. Hafizov is the only returning medalist for Team USA on this year’s roster. Bey could be working with some momentum. At the Pan-Am Championships in May, the three-time US World Team member defeated Pena Flores for gold after having fallen to the Cuban in controversial fashion at the same tournament four years prior.

2023 Pan-American Games Schedule

All times local (+1 hour ET). Those interested in viewing the Pan-American Games will be able to do so for free at this link. Users must register and create an account.

DAY 1: Friday, November 3 (Hafizov & Bey)
10:00am — Qualification rounds and repechage
5:00pm —  Finals and bronze matches

DAY 2: Saturday, November 4 (Braunagel, Rau, & Schultz)
10:00am — Qualification rounds and repechage
5:00pm —  Finals and bronze matches

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Listen to “5PM55: Recapping Final X with Dennis Hall with words from Koontz, Braunagel and Hafizov” on Spreaker.

Listen to “5PM54: WCAP’s Ryan Epps and a Final X Greco-Roman Preview” on Spreaker.

Listen to “5PM53: Northern Michigan assistant Parker Betts and USMC Captain Jamel Johnson” on Spreaker.

iTunes | Stitcher | Spreaker | Google Play Music

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