USA Greco

Pan-Ams: Team USA Looks to Gain Momentum Early

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Jamel Johnson -- Photo: Terrence Zaleski

The first of two tournaments featuring members of the 2020ne US Olympic Team begins Thursday morning in Guatemala City with the Pan-American Championships. Designated as one of United World Wrestling’s “Ranking Series” events, points are also up for grabs pertaining to bracket placement in Tokyo and the Oslo Worlds in September.

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This year, the Pan-Ams are a one-day format split into two days. On Thursday, six of the ten weight categories will be contested (six, not seven, because 55 kilograms is not involved). Only one American Olympian is set to compete tomorrow — Ildar Hafizov (60 kg, Army/WCAP, world #5). Friday will see the remaining three weight classes, which includes 87 kilos and Tokyo-bound John Stefanowicz (Marines), the only member of the US roster in ’21 who is a returning champ at this event.

The Draws

Only Two Conventional Brackets

Hafizov begins in the quarters with Josh Medina (PUR), who normally occupies 55 kilograms. Another side note is Medina’s affiliation: he competes internationally for Puerto Rico but is also a Marine, similar to Marciano Ali, who was Jesse Porter‘s first opponent at the World OG Qualifier earlier this month. Should Hafizov get past Medina he will have the winner of Marat Garipov (BRA) and Jose Gonzalez (ECU), the latter of whom was felled by Hafizov at the Pan-Am Qualifier last year. The other main attraction at 60 is Dicther Toro Castaneda (COL), who is on the top side of the bracket.

At 67 kilograms is “X”, Xavier Johnson (Marines). Johnson has upstart Dan Coles (CAN), the only round-of-16 bout in the weight class. Next on the docket would be Peruvian Nilton Soto Garcia; after that, Cristobal Nunez (COL) seems a probable opponent in the semis, provided Johnson gets that far.

Round-Robin City

Randon Miranda (63 kg, NYAC/Rise) opens against Victor Mena Vergel (COL). The athlete seen as the toughest out for the American would arrive in the third round, Andres Montano Arroyo (ECU), a well-decorated and versatile competitor as well as annual Pan-Am stalwart.

Jamel Johnson (Marines) and young Mr. Braxton Amos (97 kg, Sunkist/Wisconsin RTC) are round-robin’ed at 72 and 97 kilos, respectively. Johnson has Juan Ruiz Lugo (MEX), Carlos Fuentes Peralta (GUA), and Gerardo Oliva Montes (PER); Amos tangles with Rafael Escamilla Sanchez (ESA), Santiago Echeverri Osoria (COL)… and a very tough test, potentially, in Kevin Mejia Castillo (HON).

Minnesota Storm rep Donny Longendyke is in at heavyweight and will stare down Luis Barrios (MEX) to start off; Catriel Muriel (ARG) awaits in Round #2. The format then shoots to the semis, as is the case for the other round-robin brackets.

Action kicks off at 10:00am MT (12:00pm ET) and can be viewed live in the US on FLOWrestling.

2021 Pan-American Championships

May 27-28 — Guatemala City, GUA

DAY 1 TEAM USA PAIRINGS

60 kg — Ildar Hafizov (Army/WCAP)
vs. Josh Medina (PUR)

63 kg — Randon Miranda (NYAC/Rise)
vs. Victor Mena Vergel (COL)
vs. Juan Rodriguez Jovel (ESA)
vs. Andres Montano Arroyo (ECU)

67 kg — Xavier Johnson (Marines)
vs. Dan Coles (CAN)

72 kg — Jamel Johnson (Marines)
vs. Juan Ruiz Lugo (MEX)
vs. Carlos Fuentes Peralta (GUA)
vs. Gerardo Oliva Montes (PER)

97 kg — Braxton Amos (Sunkist/Wisconsin RTC)
vs. Rafael Escamilla Sanchez (ESA)
vs. Santiago Echeverri Osoria (COL)
vs. Kevin Mejia Castillo (HON).

130 kg — Donny Longendyke (Minnesota Storm)
vs. Luis Barrios (MEX)
vs. Catriel Muriel (ARG)

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