USA Greco

RaVaughn & Cunningham with Bronze; USA Claims Team Title at ’22 Pan-Ams

ravaughn perkins, 2022 pan-american championships bronze
RaVaughn Perkins -- Photo: Tony Rotundo

Four golds and three bronze were more than enough for the United States to overwhelm all comers at the Pan-Ams as they walked away with their fourth consecutive team title.

Day 2 of the 2022 Pan-American Championships began at 10:00am local time from Acapulco, Mexico and streamed live in the US on FLOWrestling.

not all roads lead to gold, jim gruenwald

The first day of action set the stage for a team points blitz that was aided by four individual champs — Brady Koontz (55 kg, TMWC/Ohio RTC), Randon Miranda (60 kg, Rise RTC), Sammy Jones (63 kg, NYAC), and Patrick Smith (72 kg, Minnesota Storm), who had earned his fourth career title. Friday offered three more Americans with legitimate gold medal hopes of their own. Although more 1st place hardware was not added, two still earned spots on the podium.

At 77 kilograms, RaVaughn Perkins (NYAC) sought his third career Pan-American Championships gold and got off on the right foot by beating down Jerome Hoyte (BAR), with a throw-to-pin responsible for stopping that bout prematurely. A more difficult assignment awaited Perkins in the quarterfinal, Jair Cuero Munoz of Colombia. A lift from the US athlete opened the scoring, but not until a prolonged review process unfolded. Perkins had thrown Cuero Munoz off the edge; it was close to a four, but the snag involved the officials initially doling out a caution to the Colombian. They took their time figuring out the points, which saw Perkins receive two for the action. Later in the first, Perkins dragged Cuero Munoz down to the tarp for two and entered the break ahead 4-1.

In the second period, Cuero Munoz seemed to have a decent lane to the body and seized to launch; as he did, Perkins deftly adjusted for a land-on-top off the line to collect two more points for a 6-1 advantage. With under :60 remaining, Cuero Munoz once again tried to strike. He had locked over the top to pull Perkins over for a big score. It wasn’t happening. Perkins maintained his balance and followed along with the attempt to coerce Cuero Munoz down and out for another pair of points in what became a crisp but hard-fought 8-3 decision.

Cuba’s Yosvanys Pena Flores, a multi-time Pan-Am champ himself as well an Olympian last year, stood between Perkins and a trip to the final. The scoring did not take long, as a step-out for Pena Flores put Perkins behind 1-0 early in the first period. The deficit expanded soon after upon the arrival of passivity. Perkins was dinged, allowing Pena Flores the best window he would get to pile on the offense. While there would be no “piling on” the Cuban did net one gutwrench; however, on the back-side of the sequence Perkins stepped over and, momentarily, appeared to have reversed and exposed Pena Flores. It was ruled out-of-bounds immediately and a restart was called. Perkins did receive his own passivity/PT chance in the second but could not compel a score, with Pena Flores moving on to the finals the 4-1 winner.

The loss escorted Perkins to the bronze-medal round where he was opposed by Emmanuel Benitez Castro (MEX). Zeal was not absent, though Perkins required some time to get in a groove. Benitez Castro leveraged an arm drag to force a step-out in the first, followed by a passivity/PT chance that failed to bring more points. From then on it was a joust, with Perkins doing a fine job of controlling the ties against an eager but less-refined counterpart.

The score remained 2-0 for Mexico in the second period until the American was awarded a passive point. Perkins locked and cranked, but was unable to gain a rotation. A reset, and then an exchange near the line led to Perkins dashing towards Benitez Castro and, at first glance, scoring a four-point tackle. The officials concurred with this perception; but, as had been the case throughout the tournament, a lengthy review was necessary. After over three minutes of rewinding the sequence, zero points were distributed and Perkins was still facing a 2-1 margin. He would finish strong nevertheless. In hot pursuit with under :30 remaining, Perkins’ lefty underhook served as the catalyst for a go-behind takedown. The two points put him ahead 3-2 as he fought off Benitez Castro’s last-gasp attempts to secure bronze.

Cunningham’s Bronze

Ty Cunningham (82 kg, MWC), the late replacement for two-time Olympian Ben Provisor (NYAC), provided an encouraging sample size for the US program in what was his Pan-Ams debut. That he won two matches via caution disqualification is in and itself noteworthy, as well, but if those two matches were not disrupted by penalty calls they still would have ended well in his favor.

Canadian Brayden Ambo was first on Cunningham’s hit list, with the Nebraskan stepping over a turn attempt in the first period to hold Ambo in place and come away with a pin. Cunningham was ahead 6-1 prior to the finish.

Representing Colombia in the bracket was former Boston University star Nestor Taffur, who does not have a Greco background. Nor did Taffur, through no fault of his own, perhaps, have a firm grasp of the rule-set.

Taffur did have a discernible attempt on an arm throw, which caused Cunningham to briefly lose his feet before scrambling back into position. Shortly after, passivity. Cunningham, the beneficiary, opted for a lift but Taffur pinched his legs between Cunningham’s to bring on the bout’s first caution. Another opportunity from top for Cunningham ended with two points thanks to his lift; but again, Taffur was rung up for legs. Two defensive leg fouls is all it takes to get disqualified, and Cunningham had moved on to the third round of the bracket sporting a 2-0 record.

A tight and tough affair greeted Cunningham next courtesy of Daniel Gomez (MEX). Physicality was the order of the day for Cunningham, as he leg-drove and pounded inside the ties through the bout’s early stages. Gomez was knocked first for passive but follow-up scoring for the American was ground to a halt. That was corrected towards the end of the period when Cunningham blasted a headlock that delivered four, though Gomez reversed to grab a point back in return.

Gomez inched closer midway through the second period by ambling behind Cunningham for a takedown. The tempo had not changed, not drastically, and Cunningham was still in command of most exchanges despite his adversary’s output beginning to hasten just a touch. A step-out point had nudged Cunningham ahead 6-3 with time becoming a factor, and the outcome had begun to seem a forgone conclusion.

But it wasn’t.

Similar to his first takedown, Gomez — with :43 on the clock — put two more points in his pocket and trailed 6-5. Needing another score, he then gutted Cunningham once, in doing so taking a 7-6 lead. Cunningham, in desperation mode, tried to attack in earnest, but his right wrist was for the most part vaulted inside of Gomez’s grip. A throw attempt with short time flung loose, allowing Gomez to survive and send Cunningham to the bronze round.

For the second time on the day, it was Taffur, and history repeated itself. Cunningham received the first passive/PT — and his ensuing lift attempt was jammed by Taffur legging to avoid danger. The caution was called; but for some reason, Colombia challenged and the upheld call boosted Cunningham’s lead to 4-0. Par terre chance #2 ended in much the same way. Cunningham looked to lift, and Taffur’s left leg hooked upward, which immediately warranted one more caution. The bout was over, with Cunningham having earned bronze in his first Senior Pan-Ams experience.

ty cunningham, 2022 pan-american championships bronze

Cunningham (blue) attempts to lift Nestor Taffur at the 2022 Pan-American Championships in Acapulco, Mexico. Cunningham, who placed third, defeated Taffur twice on Friday, both times via disqualification due to leg fouls. (Photo: Tony Rotundo)


Also appearing in the Pan-Am Championships for the first time was Rich Carlson (87 kg, Minnesota Storm), who last month made the US roster by winning the Bill Farrell Memorial. His opponent was a good one, Carlos Munoz Jaramillo (COL). They pounded in the tie-ups at the onset, with Carlson working mostly on the right side before the bout was stopped in time for passivity on Munoz. The par terre did not prove fruitful for Carlson and they were back to the feet with just over a minute left until intermission.

Gifted with a generous allotment of ticks to work from top PT in the second, Munoz’s own efforts paid off with a lift at the edge for two. They fought it out from then on, Carlson clearly the more active of the two given the circumstances. The tireless work-rate in pursuit of points did incite fraught on Munoz’s part. Carlson diligently pushed, pulled, and angled for windows. None were open. Munoz stayed away from peril to advance 3-1. He was then defeated by Johan Batista (DOM) in the semifinal, thus eliminating Carlson from possible bronze contention in the repechage.

team usa greco-roman, 2022 pan-american championships team champions

2022 Pan-American Team Champions (Photo: Tony Rotundo)

2022 Pan-American Championships Notes:

  • Team USA won the overall team title with 165 points over Mexico (145) and Cuba (101).
  • Four American athletes were first-time entrants in the Pan-American Championships, three of whom medaled (Koontz, gold; Cunningham, bronze; Carlson, 8th; and Boykin, bronze).
  • Nine of Team USA Greco’s victories were achieved via technical fall; six were decisions, two were pins, two were forfeits, and two bouts were won by disqualification.

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

77 kg: RaVaughn Perkins (NYAC) — bronze
WON Jerome Hoyte (BAR) via fall
WON Jair Cuero Munoz (COL) 8-3
LOSS Yovsayns Pena Flores (CUB) 4-1
WON Emmanuel Benitez Castro (MEX) 3-2

82 kg: Ty Cunningham (MWC) — bronze
WON Brayden Ambo (CAN) via fall
WON Nestor Taffur (COL) via DQ
LOSS Daniel Gomez (MEX) 7-6
WON Nestor Taffur (COL) via DQ

87 kg: Rich Carlson (Minnesota Storm) — 8th
LOSS Carlos Munoz Jaramillo (COL) 3-1

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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