United States Greco-Roman wrestlers combined for 19 earned victories at the 2022 Pan-American Championships between Thursday and Friday of last week. Also included, and more importantly so, were four tournament champions and three bronze medalists. The Americans’ tally of 165 points was more than enough to overcome second-place Mexico (145) and Cuba (101) — though it should be noted that Cuba boasted only five competitors, three of whom earned gold and one silver medalist.
There are two reasons why Cuba’s Greco-Roman delegation was comparatively light: 1) they do not send athletes to competitions in non-Olympic weights as a general rule; 2) the defection of ’16 Olympic/three-time World Champion Ismael Borrero Molina (67 kg), who traveled to Mexico only to separate from the team just prior to the tournament.
Patrick Smith (72 kg, Minnesota Storm) was the headliner for the US squad as he collected his fifth career continental title. Smith won his first Pan-Am Championships gold in ’15 and proceeded to emerge victorious again at the event the next two years. ’19 saw Smith make the US World Team, which was accompanied by a spot on the roster for the Pan-American Games. In what remains one of his most memorable performances, Smith out-worked and out-scored the 77 kg field in Lima, Peru en-route to becoming Team USA’s lone champion. The following season brought forth a silver and bronze from the Pan-Am Championships and Olympic Qualifier, respectively; with his gold from Acapulco now tucked away safely at home in Minnesota, Smith owns seven career continental medals overall.
Smith’s performance on Thursday was one-sided with the exception of his 4-2 nod over Edsson Olmos Gutierrez (MEX). Randon Miranda (60 kg, Rise RTC) was a different story. Following a whitewashing of Emerson Felipe Ordonez (GUA), Miranda systematically, if not conventionally, decisioned Marat Garipov (BRA). But the subsequent two bouts put the Californian to the test — and he passed with flying colors.
Behind 5-0 to Joao Benavides (PER) in the second period, Miranda got on his horse to climb within range but still trailed 7-5 as the match hit below the :10 mark. A pair of arm throw attempts, from two different entries, opened the door for him to complete the comeback. On the last arm chuck, Miranda doggedly pursued the score and popped his head out for the match-winning takedown right as time expired. The clock read 0:00 when the points were confirmed. It was remarkable, and regardless of whatever Miranda may accomplish going forward in his career, this victory against Benavides — and the event as a whole, for that matter — will be hard to forget.
Miranda’s gold-clincher opposite a game and experienced Samuel Gurria Vigueras (MEX) was tight, too, but mainly due to the final score. The situation was not in serious doubt for most of their six minutes together, though Gurria did make it interesting late in the second period. Key for Miranda — starting with Garipov and ending with Gurria — were opportune scores. When he absolutely had to put points on the board, he did.
— As noted, Smith now claims four career Pan-Am Championships golds and five total medals from the continental tournament counting the silver from ’20.
— With his win on Thursday, Miranda became a two-time medalist after first taking silver last year.
— Sammy Jones (63 kg, NYAC), one of four champs for the US in ’22, entered action with one piece of Pan-Am hardware already in the trophy case, a bronze from ’16.
— RaVaughn Perkins (77 kg, NYAC) won back-to-back Pan-Am Championships titles (’18-’19) before finishing third on Friday.
Last Chance in AC
Historic and beautiful Atlantic City, New Jersey will play host to the 2022 Last Chance World Team Trials Qualifier this coming Friday. At press time, only 30 athletes are registered for Greco-Roman.
The procedural implication is simple. According to USA Wrestling, it reads “the highest placed Greco-Roman USA athlete per weight category winning a medal who has yet to qualify will earn a spot in the 2022 World Team Trials Challenge Tournament”. Perhaps an easier way to put it is “every wrestler who wins his weight class will qualify for the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament”.
Below is the number of entrants per weight class as of 5/9:
55 kg — 5
60 kg — 0
63 kg — 1
67 kg — 2
72 kg — 3
77 kg — 5
82 kg — 6
87 kg — 3
97 kg — 3
130 kg — 2
2022 Last Chance World Team Trials Qualifier
All times ET.
FLOWrestling will carry the live broadcast.
Friday, May 13
10:00am-2:00pm — Preliminaries through semifinals; consolation rounds
4:00pm-5:00pm — Consolation finals
5:00pm-7:30pm — Finals (qualifying round)
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