USA Greco

STEF & RAU: GOLD; Smith with Silver To Close Out Pan Am C’Ships

john stefanowicz, serbia
Photo: Richard Immel

The United States Greco-Roman Seniors did not set out to send a message at the Pan-American Championships this week. But after coming away with five gold medalists and a blistering march to the team title in the midst of the most critical stage of the entire quaddrenium, the other nations occupying this continent got the hint.

They were put on notice.

John Stefanowicz (82 kg, Marines, world #5) and Joe Rau (87 kg, TMWC/Chicago RTC) both pounded out Pan Am Championships golds Saturday afternoon while Patrick Smith (77 kg, Minnesota Storm) earned a hard-fought silver. The United States starched the field as far as the team race is concerned, finishing with a whopping 200 points, far ahead of second -place Cuba (105) and third-place Venezuela (69).

Stef & Rau

There was no rush, but Stefanowicz had an opponent in Marciano Ali (PUR) who was going to open up a little bit, and allow for some scoring opportunities. Evidence to that effect arrived early, as Stefanowicz uncorked an arm spin that provided four points — though Ali scrambled his way to two and another two when he was able to sneak in a gut at the end of the sequence. Back standing, and there was Stefanowicz with that arm, hurling it for two more points. Just before the buzzer, the Marine created even more distance by countering an Ali action and deftly turning it into a takedown.

The matter was resolved soon into the second. Following a brief feeling-out process, Stefanowicz negotiated an angle and locked a side lift. Upon impact, it was a match-ender. Still, there was a little more scoring to be done, as Stefanowicz gutted Ali for two additional points and a sparkling 14-4 technical wipeout.

The victory gives Stefanowicz his first-ever Pan Am Championships gold. In two matches, he outscored the opposition 24-5. Both of his victories were achieved via technical superiority.

Rau Vicious, Patient

The officials intimated a desire to be heard shortly after the opening whistle between Rau and Carlos Munoz Jaramillo (COL). Rau was warned for his head, to create action; Jaramillo received similar instructions. None of it affected the engagement. Rau dug for two-on-ones and began moving his opponent’s feet. At one instance, it appeared Rau had earned a step-out but the officials called it a “push” instead. However, Jaramillo was called for passivity, anyway, and Rau capitalized by locking a high-gut-lift and executing the hold for two big points.

The conclusive stanza welcomed a similar approach. Rau wasn’t letting up, and he was stalking with confidence. If the two-on-one’s weren’t available, he merely switched off to a different tie, which most times caused Jaramillo to reset and post. It all resulted in Rau getting another point — and another crack at Jaramillo from par terre. This time, he kept it simple and rolled him over with a mid-range gut. Up 6-0, the Chicagoan easily held his ground for the remainder of the bout to earn his second Pan Am Championships title after grabbing his first back in ’15.

Rau now holds 28 “Ranking Series” points moving into next week’s Olympic Qualifier where he is guaranteed a top-2 seed. He will also appear in the top-10 UWW rankings once that list is updated.


In their second bout of the day, Smith and Yovsanys Pena Flores (CUB) started off with the same static that permeated through their first contest earlier this morning. No advantages were immediately apparent in the tie-ups, mostly because neither athlete yielded an inch. Smith received the first passivity point, but came up empty from par terre top and walked into the break hanging onto a fragile 1-0 lead.

Smith opened the second frame demonstrating a frantic work-rate. He knew what to expect. Unless there was a score, they were going to knock the American. And that’s what happened, despite Smith clearly doing everything he could to generate openings.

With his criteria point in hand, Pena locked, gut, thought about a lift, but went back to gut and rotated Smith over one time to climb ahead further 3-1. Smith made an impassioned effort towards the end, pounding and pummeling for all he was worth — and Pena managed to stay out of trouble till the buzzer.


  • The United States Greco Seniors will stay put in Ottawa in advance of Friday’s Olympic Qualifier. Once the seeds are clearly established (according to the procedures), we will make that information known.
  • Tech’s and pins: the US earned 11 tech falls and two pins at the 2020 Pan Am Championships.
  • Smith and G’Angelo Hancock (97 kg, Sunkist, world #8) were the only two Americans to wrestle opponents twice, and they both went 1-1. Smith defeated Pena earlier on Saturday but fell in the finals; Hancock was defeated by Gabriel Rosillo (CUB) during pool competition but decimated him for gold.


March 6-7 — Ottawa, Canada


77 KG

Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm) — silver
WON Yosvanys Pena Flores (CUB) 3-1
WON Angelo Marques Moreira (BRA) 12-3, TF
WON Jair Cuero Munoz (COL) 4-4 (criteria)
LOSS Yosvanys Pena Flores (CUB) 3-1

82 KG

John Stefanowicz (Marines) — gold
WON Jose Vargas Rueda (MEX) 10-1, TF
WON Marciano Ali (PUR) 14-4, TF

87 KG

Joe Rau (TMWC/Chicago RTC) — gold
WON Luis Avendano Rojas (VEN) 8-0, TF
WON Lesylan Cousin Otomu (JAM) 11-2, TF
WON Carlos Munoz Jaramillo (COL) 6-0


55 kg

Max Nowry (Army/WCAP) — gold
WON Sargis Khachatryan (BRA) via forfeit
WON Kieran Akhtar (CAN) 10-0, TF

60 kg

Mike Fuenffinger (Army/WCAP) — silver
WON Miguel Aguilar (MEX) 9-0, TF
WON Jancel Pimentel Gonzalez (DOM) via fall
LOSS Dicther Toro Castaneda (COL) 9-0, TF

67 kg

Alex Sancho (Army/WCAP) — bronze
WON Joseph Dashou (CAN) 8-0, TF
WON German Diaz (PUR) 11-8
LOSS Ismael Borrero Molina (CUB) 9-0, TF
WON Julian Horta Acevedo (COL) 10-0, TF

72 kg

Ray Bunker (Marines) — gold
WON Joilson de Brito Ramos (BRA) 3-2

97 kg

G’Angelo Hancock (Sunkist) — gold
WON Edson Acuna Salazar (MEX) 9-0, TF
LOSS Gabriel Rosillo (CUB) via fall
WON Luillys Perez Mora (VEN) 3-0
WON Gabriel Rosillo (CUB) 10-0, TF

130 kg

Adam Coon (NYAC/Cliff Keen) — silver
WON Yasmany Acosta Fernandez (CHL) via forfeit
WON Moises Hellburg (VEN) via fall
LOSS Angel Pacheco Romero (CUB) 8-0, TF

Listen to “5PM33: The Marine Corps’ Jamel Johnson” on Spreaker.

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