Tomorrow, Kamal Bey (77 kg, Army/WCAP) will find himself at home refocusing his efforts on making a second-straight World Team. But today, it was all about earning a win that invited significance in more ways than one.
The second and final day of the 2023 Pan-American Championships began at 10:00am local time from Buenos Aires, Argentina (11:00am ET) and aired live in the US on FLOWrestling.
Bey and Spencer Woods (82 kg, Army/WCAP) both earned their first Pan-Am gold medals to give the US a total of six from the tournament, which resulted in a 61-point victory over second-place Cuba in the team standings (175-114). Reigning two-time World Team member Alan Vera (87 kg, NYAC), a champ from the event back in ’16, came away with bronze to further add to the Americans’ margin.
Bey’s performance began with a competitive 4-2 decision against stout Colombian Jair Cuero Munoz and continued with a 12-3 shellacking of David Choc Huoc (GUA) in the quarterfinal. Next was another decision for Bey, a 5-1 shutdown that shuffled Emmanuel Benitez Castro (MEX) out of the picture. Then came the final versus two-time Pan-Am gold Yosvanys Pena Flores (CUB), and context is necessary.
They had first met in the ’19 Pan-Am final in a match that was marred by poor officiating. Bey had trailed Pena 3-1 in the second period and was to receive a passivity/par terre chance when, oddly, the officials conferred and decided not to make the call. Later in the same match, Pena Flores was penalized for “negative wrestling”, Cuba was permitted to challenge the infraction, and that call, too, was overturned, allowing Pena the 3-1 decision.
There was a dicey moment or two this time around, as well. A healthy amount of heat existed between the two athletes as they jousted in the hand-fight. Pena, a powerful 77, mashed into Bey as he engaged in a cavalcade of finger-twisting with sparse underhook attempts mixed in between. For his part, Bey did a nice job (in both periods) of recruiting his legs to create deep steps that seemed to disrupt his foe’s posture and balance. But largely, offense was hard to come by, and passivity on Bey in the first period meant a 1-0 lead for Pena — who did not demonstrate a touch-start from par terre top. Still, Bey defended the lock and received a reset.
It was not reasonable to expect a drastic increase in intensity or output in the second period from either wrestler, for their tactics in the first drove a rather frenetic pace despite the lack of scoring. Pena did eat up ground on the mat, only he was failing to advance position; as such, when the second passivity was called, Bey became the beneficiary. His try for a turn was not successful and they were back on the feet. The hand-fight thus re-commenced leading into the bout’s latter stages with Bey ahead via criteria. But then the officials determined that a third passive was necessary, giving Pena an opportunity from par terre top. He did not start correctly, twice consecutively, and his PT chance was gone. Cuba challenged, because points-wise it made no difference, and the officials did not reverse the ruling. Bey deflected the Cuban’s last-ditch onslaught and was soon declared the winner 2-1.
Woods’ Reverse Lift & Vera’s Bronze
Woods wanted to go big and make it count, so he made sure to go big twice. Against John Yeats of Canada, the first-period passivity/PT saw Woods execute two cascading reverse lifts to sew up the victory in short order via VSU. Jose Mosquera Murillo (COL) was next. A booming reverse lift for five made the score 6-0 before Murillo was cited for a leg foul caution. The result was two more points, plus one more after a lost challenge from Colombia. Woods — who won his second US National title last week — outscored his two opponents on Thursday (not counting passives and the caution from Murillo) 15-0 after having capitalized on three scoring actions.
A takedown/gut combo for Vera provided the offense he needed to get past Daniel Vincente Gomez (MEX) in the quarters but he then found himself on the wrong end of an 10-1 VSU to ’18 U23 World silver/’19 U23 World bronze Daniel Gregorich Hechavarria. The bounce-back for Vera was impressive and important. With bronze on the line along with the objective of securing 87 kg on behalf of the US for the ’23 Pan-Am Games in November, he got down to business. A step-out point followed by a passive on Ronisson Brandao (BRA) paved the way for Vera to crank a gutwrench that at the time delivered a 4-0 advantage. Brandao was gifted a passivity point in the second period, but Vera couldn’t be budged and he cruised to the finish line for a well-earned bronze.
- The US has now won the Pan-American Championships in six of the past seven years (’17, ’19, ’20, ’21, ’22, and ’23).
- 13 of the 22 individual wins earned by Americans were stoppages (11 VSU, two pins).
- Four of the Team USA athletes were first-time competitors at the Pan-Am Championships (Dalton Duffield, 55 kg; Robert Perez III, 67 kg; Justus Scott, 72 kg; and Woods).
2023 Pan-American Championships
May 3-4 — Buenos Aires, ARG
TEAM USA FULL RESULTS
55 kg: Dalton Duffield (Army/WCAP) — GOLD
WON Jose Rodriguez Hernandez (MEX) via fall
WON Axel Gabriel Rolon (ARG) 9-0, TF
60 kg: Dalton Roberts (Army/WCAP) — GOLD
WON Raiber Rodriguez Orozco (VEN) 9-0, TF
WON Alexis Rodriguez Hernandez (MEX) 8-0, TF
WON Jeremy Peralta Gonzalez (ECU) 9-0, TF
67 kg: Robert Perez III (Sunkist) — 12th
LOSS Julian Horta Acevedo (COL) 8-0, TF
72 kg: Justus Scott (Army/WCAP) — GOLD
WON Jose Varela Garcia (GUA) 9-1, TF
WON Cole Sanderson (CAN) 9-0, TF
WON Jesus Guzman Davila (PER) 9-0, TF
WON Kennedy Moraes Pedrosa (BRA) 6-2
77 kg: Kamal Bey (Army/WCAP) — GOLD
WON Jair Cuero Munoz (COL) 4-2
WON David Choc Huoc (GUA) 12-3, TF
WON Emmanuel Benitez Castro (MEX) 5-1
WON Yosvanys Pena Flores (CUB) 2-1
82 kg: Spencer Woods (Army/WCAP) — GOLD
WON John Yeats (CAN) 11-0, TF
WON Jose Mosquera Murillo (COL) 9-0, TF
87 kg: Alan Vera (NYAC) — BRONZE
WON Daniel Vincente Gomez (MEX) 5-1
LOSS Daniel Gregorich Hechavarria (CUB) 10-1, TF
WON Ronisson Brandao (BRA) 4-1
97 kg: Joe Rau (TMWC/IRTC) — GOLD
WON Yurisandy Hernandez Rios (CUB) 5-1
WON Luillys Perez Mora (VEN) 2-1
WON Carlos Adames Palmer (DOM) 8-0, TF
WON Kevin Mejia Castillo (HON) via
130 kg: Donny Longendyke (Minnesota Storm) — 5th
WON Leo Santana Heredia (DOM) via fall
LOSS Oscar Pino Hinds (CUB) 9-0, TF
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