USA Greco

PAT WINS 4TH GOLD; Koontz, Miranda, & ‘Wildman Sam’ Also Wreck Pan-Ams

patrick smith, 2022 pan-am championships gold
Patrick Smith -- Photo: Tony Rotundo

Patrick Smith (72 kg) delivered one of the most sparkling efforts of his career on Thursday in locking up his fourth Pan-Am Championships title, and Team USA as a whole had a successful first day of competition with three other victors and a bronze medalist.

Day 1 of the 2022 Pan-American Championships began at 10:00am CT from Acapulco, Mexico and streamed live in the US on FLOWrestling.

not all roads lead to gold, jim gruenwald

Smith started his quest to gold #4 with a run-the-table VSU at the expense of Cristian Mejia Tepen (GUA) but was tested in the quarters by one of Mexico’s best, Edsson Olmos Gutierrez. Two step-out points that were the result of Smith’s high-pressure style opened the scoring, the second of which saw Smith trap Gutierrez’s left arm behind his back before coaxing him off the line. A third charge later in the period — and then a fourth step-out arrived after the next reset to put Smith ahead 4-0 entering the second. Gutierrez did eventually manage a throw attempt at the edge to get on the board, though that capped the scoring and Smith triumphed 4-2.

After Smith rang up Angel Cortes Bonilla (PAN) thanks to a pair of takedowns and two guts, he found himself in line for gold against Horacio Miranda (ARG). The story remained the same, as Smith logged a step-out that was followed by passivity/par terre on Miranda. From top PT, the Chaska native cranked for exposure points and then proceeded to step up for a booming side lift that acted as an exclamatory ending to an overall stellar performance.

Smith, 31, earned three straight Pan-American Championship golds from ’15-’17. He returned to the continental field two years hence by making the World Team, and subsequently brought home Team USA’s only title from that event. Prior to Thursday, Smith’s last two Pan-Am appearances were a silver and bronze from the ’20 Championships and Olympic Qualifier, respectively.

Koontz, Miranda, & Jones

Three US Greco-Roman athletes pounded out their first-ever Pan-Am golds: two of whom did so dominantly, whereas one had to navigate a very tough road but never flinched throughout the process.

Brady Koontz (TMWC/Ohio RTC) was unstoppable in his two bouts. It was elbow-to-elbow gutwrench time in the opening round for Koontz, who emerged over Brandon Escobar Amdor (HON) 11-0. In what would turn out to be his last contested bout of the day, the ’19 Final-X runner-up shut down a game — but still overmatched — Axel Salas Esquivel (MEX) 9-1, his second consecutive tech. Koontz was next scheduled to face Marat Garipov (BRA) according to the round-robin bracket, but Garipov was actually entered at 60, not 55, thus rendering the de-facto final an automatic victory by forfeit for the American.

Only one match was availed for “Wildman Sam” Sammy Jones (63 kg, NYAC) but he made it count. And in a big way. Facing Jose Alberto Rodriguez (MEX), Jones took a 2-0 lead into the passive/PT chance. First was a side lift that garnered four; next came an adjustment on the lock followed by a thundering, deep rotational slam that brought with it five, which provided one of the most impactful moments of the day for the US roster.

Miranda Demonstrates Impressive Tenacity

It was a long path to top honors for Randon Miranda (60 kg, Rise RTC), who started his day in the qualification round opposed by Emerson Felipe Ordonez (GUA) and raced towards what became an 11-0 technical fall. After that, it was one match at a time, each varying in difficulty and scoring margins.

Well-traveled Garipov was next in line. The Brazilian via Kazakhstan, somehow, received the initial passive/PT opportunity but could not engineer a turn. They pummeled and engaged in several fleeting exchanges through the remainder of the first period with no further scoring tabulated. Brief confusion marked the opening to the second, with the US corner first requesting a challenge until Miranda declined. The combat thus continued, and eventually Garipov was dinged for passivity. He had to fight for it, did Miranda, when raking a gut that had appeared close to four but instead yielded two; a follow-up turn tacked on two more, and 5-1 it was with under :30 to go when Miranda got behind for a takedown en-route to the 7-1 decision.

In the semifinal, Miranda was staring at a 5-0 deficit early in the second period against Joao Benavides (PER) when an arm throw attempt closed the gap. Benavides had actually defended the try and stepped over, but Miranda stayed with the hold to net two and two. Another scoring fracas soon occurred. Miranda had snared an arm drag that had Benavides contort to seemingly commandeer the action with a takedown, though Miranda did end the sequence in control. A long review conference commenced, which at the end resulted in Miranda receiving one point for a reversal while Benavides, now ahead 7-5, was credited with two for the counter-score.

randon miranda, 2022 pan-ams gold

Thanks in large part to his ability to score, and create counter-scores, Miranda persevered in one of the most challenging brackets at the 2022 Pan-American Championships to come away with gold. (Photo: Tony Rotundo)

Last Saturday, Luke Sheridan (97 kg, Army/WCAP) had only a mere :09 to work with when he threw Khymba Johnson (NYAC) to win the US Open. Miranda? He had only :05 at his disposal versus Benavides. He checked inside for an arm throw on Benavides’ left side; the attempt was defended and they returned to the feet in a near-instant with Miranda now posited towards his opponent’s right; then in a single motion, Miranda turned and corkscrewed another arm try. Again, Benavides fought hard to avoid exposing, but Miranda remained diligent in pursuit and popped behind just as time expired. Peru had no choice but to challenge the last-second score. Upon review, the call went unchanged, and Miranda had secured a true buzzer-beater victory to make the final.

It did not become easier, or less exciting, for that matter, with gold on the hook. In the gold-medal match, Miranda received the first passivity/par terre against Samuel Gurria, who enjoyed the support of an enthusiastic home crowd. Assuming the top position, Miranda locked for a reverse lift but soon found his attempt fall apart with Gurria scurrying out from under the hold. The official promptly called leg interference on Gurria, giving Miranda two points and another opportunity from top PT. He chose a different route, and clamped head-and-arm for two turns… and rose to his feet to yank a larger score. The execution appeared clean, even with Gurria bounding up and over to expose Miranda on the back-end. What should have been four for Miranda and, perhaps, two for Gurria, was instead scored four for Gurria and nothing for Miranda. The US challenged, rightfully, and came away with four for their guy with Mexico tallying two.

More wildness. Early in the second period, Gurria wrested a front headlock, to which Miranda responded by locking the body and completing the throw and nearly coming with a pin. But Gurria proved resilient in scrambling to avoid disaster while simultaneously recording exposure points. Back to the feet, and Gurria had managed a headlock for four points to climb within striking distance — but in a flash, Miranda wriggled free and scampered around for one reversal point. Some healthy competitive chippiness unfolded towards the bout’s conclusion, none of it affecting the score nor the outcome. Following silver in ’21, Miranda had earned Pan-American gold, accomplishing the feat with the sort of determination and commitment to scoring that has accompanied his development dating back to his freshman year at Northern Michigan.

Boykin Bronze

Nick Boykin (97 kg, Sunkist) put forth a patient, systematic effort in dismantling Luis Rivera Alvarado (MEX) to kick off his own Pan-American campaign. Boykin, twice a Senior National champ along with having made appearances on the US Junior and U23 World Teams, scored in snack-sized bites for the most part against Alvarado, ultimately tying a bow around the match in the second period 9-0. The semifinal was different, as highly-reputable Kevin Mejia Castillo (HON) used a boydlock/lift combination to walk away victorious 8-0. Boykin went unopposed in the bronze-medal round as Chilean Eduardo Gajardo Meneses forfeited the bout.

Tuma 1-1; Farmer vs. 2 World Medalists

The highly-explosive Hayden Tuma (67 kg, Suples) caught fire in drubbing Mauricio Lovera (ARG), putting those unique offensive skills to good use in gaining an 11-0 stoppage. The hill was steeper in the quarterfinal in the form of Diego Martinez (MEX). Down big 8-2 in the second, Tuma remained poised as Martinez looked to round the corner a left underhook. As the pair was mired in that position, with Tuma reciprocating by locking his right overhook, Martinez turned inside and was caught flatfooted. Tuma immediately pounced on top, receiving two points. Up 8-4, Mexico was in the driver’s seat — and knew it. Tuma did not relent. He wanted to pour inside in for potential scores whilst scanning fast-disappearing angles to exploit. But Martinez kept his feet to the whistle and later fell in the semifinal to Julian Horta Acevedo (COL), which eliminated the former Army/WCAP rep from possible contention for bronze.

Surging heavyweight Tanner Farmer (NYAC/IRTC) was defeated by two-time World medalist Oscar Pino Hinds (CUB) via 9-0 VSU to crack open his Pan-American debut. Pino Hinds advanced to the final, which put Farmer in the repechage round against ’17 World bronze Yasmany Acosta Fernandez (CHI), who is a familiar face to the Americans and is often invited stateside for training camps. It was a tight battle, with Acosta seizing on the passive/PT for a gutwrench in the first period, and Farmer having his own opportunity from top in the second. No additional scoring was recorded, and Acosta would move on to the bronze round and prevail over Edgardo Lopez Morell (PUR).

Day 2

Plenty of action is still to come for Team USA at the 2022 Pan-American Championships with three weight classes on the docket. Headlining for the Americans is RaVaughn Perkins (77 kg, NYAC), who will work to capture his third continental gold. Joining him are two athletes making their Pan-Ams debuts — Ty Cunningham (82 kg, MWC) and Rich Carlson (87 kg, Minnesota Storm). First-round draws can be found below along with the schedule.

77 kg — RaVaughn Perkins (NYAC)
vs. Jerome Hoyte (BAR)

82 kg — Ty Cunningham (MWC)
vs. Brayden Ambo (CAN)

87 kg — Rich Carlson (Minnesota Storm)
vs. Carlos Munoz Jaramillo (COL)

Friday, May 6 (All times CT)
10:00am-12:30pm — Qualification rounds/repechage — 77, 82, & 87 kg
5:00pm-7:30pm — Finals/bronze rounds

2022 Pan-American Championships

May 5-6 — Acapulco, MEX


55 kg: Brady Koontz (TMWC/Ohio RTC) — gold
WON Brandon Escobar Amador (HON) 11-0, TF
WON Axel Salas Esquivel (MEX) 9-1, TF
WON Gemerson Moura Santos (BRA) via forfeit

60 kg: Randon Miranda (Rise RTC) — gold
WON Emerson Felipe Ordonez (GUA) 11-0, TF
WON Marat Garipov (BRA) 7-1
WON Joao Benavides Rochaburn (PER) 8-7
WON Samuel Gurria Vigueras (MEX) 12-8

63 kg: Sammy Jones (NYAC) — gold
WON Jose Rodriguez Hernandez (MEX) 10-0, TF

67 kg: Hayden Tuma (Suples) — 7th
WON Mauricio Lovera (ARG) 11-0, TF
LOSS Diego Martinez De Leija (MEX) 8-4

72 kg: Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm) — gold
WON Cristian Mejia Teppen (GUA) 9-0, TF
WON Edsson Olmos Gutierrez (MEX) 4-2
WON Angel Cortes Bonilla (PAN) 8-0, TF
WON Horacia Miranda (ARG) 8-0, TF

97 kg: Nick Boykin (Sunkist) — bronze
WON Luis Rivera Alvarado (MEX) 9-0, TF
LOSS Kevin Mejia Castillo (HON) 8-0, TF
WON Eduardo Gajardo Meneses (CHI) via forfeit

130 kg: Tanner Farmer (NYAC/IRTC) — 8th
LOSS Oscar Pino Hinds (CUB) 9-0, TF
LOSS Yasmany Acosta Fernandez (CHI) 3-1

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