One of the preeminent themes following this past weekend’s wondrous US Open revolved around adrenaline. Excitement. Real throws, real action, and the kind of dominating performances that have a habit of following a wrestler to the next event. While it’s true there were a few hiccups here and there for US athletes today at the 2018 Pan American Championships in Lima, Peru, Day 1 ended as a resounding success.
Ryan Mango (63 kg, Army/WCAP), and RaVaughn Perkins (72 kg, NYAC) earned their first-ever Pan Am golds earlier this evening while Max Nowry (55 kg, Army/WCAP) and 2016 Olympian Robby Smith (130 kg, NYAC) checked in with hard-fought silvers. And at the close of the first day of action, Team USA sits in prime position to earn a team title.
Perkins and Mango
Mango, 26, scarcely encountered legitimate danger during his bouts on Thursday. He made quick work of Mauri Vincente (BRA) and Gerardo Montes (MEX), blitzing both via tech (with one of those bouts featuring a whopper of a five). But that’s not to say the road was completely devoid of potholes.
Marine German Diaz (PUR) reversed and gutted Mango following the latter’s lift attempt from par terre. Down 4-1 entering the second, Mango had to get to work. It started with a front headlock that Diaz actually fought off. Mango kept the hold and shucked it by for two, climbing within a point. Next, a step-out made the score 4-4, but with Diaz still holding criteria. Mango collected another step-out seconds later and then dumped a bodylock for four. Diaz, a stout competitor, seemed to no longer have the juice necessary to stay in it and there was still more offense to be dealt with.
With under a minute remaining, Mango forced one more step out just ahead of bombing his second bodylock of the period. There was no escape for Diaz; the conclusion had been reached. Though it was going to be a tech anyway, Mango didn’t let up and held his opponent down for the pin. After all, this is a team tournament.
Fans were likely disappointed to find out that there would be no more fireworks out of the Stanford alum tonight. Canada’s Adam MacFayden forfeited out of the 63-kilogram final, giving Mango his first Pan Ams gold.
Perkins was the picture of elegant destruction last week as he surged to his second Open title. And the brand of aggression that was on display in Vegas was just as discernible this afternoon. A lot of it had to do with Perkins’s gutwrench. He converted the maneuver with ease in each of his first two bouts, racking up blinding tech’s against David Barbosa (BRA) and Christopher Palacios Alexander (PER), respectively. The resistance he faced in the final might have been decidedly tougher, but the result stayed the same.
2016 Olympian Wuileixis Rivas Espinosa (VEN) has performed at this event before. He was a winner at the Pan Am Games in 2015, at the Championships in 2014, and there are a couple of bronze mixed in, as well, including one from last year. Rivas knows what he’s doing. Even with that, he had no offensive answers for Perkins.
As has become pattern, Perkins rushed in to make first contact upon the whistle. They jostled around a bit, feeling out the landscape. Perkins wanted to pummel right into position and set angles with his feet. To his credit, Rivas was game for the clashing — just not the tempo. The Venezuelan got knocked for passive soon enough, providing Perkins with the initial shot on top. A lock looked promising but nothing was doing, so they reset. Breaking off an exchange (and then back in), Perkins darted inside and got to the body for a throw that netted two. 3-0, USA. It’d be a stretch to say that Rivas was fading already, because he wasn’t. But entering the break, Perkins looked to be the fresher combatant and it felt like more scores would be coming down the pike.
They met in the center to kick off the second and the urgency was still there for Perkins. He was owning the static. Rivas, behind by three, could not open up his attacks if only because he was constantly being outworked. Perkins hustled off the ties, out-physicaling Rivas at every turn. A window presented itself towards the edge and Perkins capitalized with a step-out point. The whole thing appeared academic as the period continued. Rivas tried increasing his output in hopes of a last gasp but was stymied by Perkins’s relentlessness when it counted, with the American skating to his first Pan Ams Championship gold.
Nowry & Smith
Nowry, 28 — and a winner at this tournament five years ago, was rarely tested throughout as he marched his way to the deciding contest. An opening-round victory over ’16 Pan Am bronze Brandon Escobar (HON) represented the only time when the outcome was ever (temporarily) in doubt. Escobar assumed a 1-0 passive lead in the first before Nowry powered back into the thick of things in the second. Using a laser-guided arm drag, he constantly forced Escobar to switch directions in order to keep up. Eventually, the score read 6-1 and Nowry was in the clear. A pair of runaway tech wins which saw Javier Barrera Palacios (PER) and Mauricio Sanchez (MEX) outgunned from the outset escorted the WCAP wrestler to the round-robin final opposite 2017 Brazil Cup champ Sargios Khachatryan (BRA), who himself enjoyed a similarly dominant day of competition.
Nowry began the match briskly, but not in a crazed rush. He urged forward and Khachatryan played back. It was evident Nowry could move his foe if he wanted to, but there weren’t a lot of open lanes for him to speed down. Khachatryan — because of course — received the first passivity/par terre opportunity and he wrung out a gutwrench to jump ahead 3-0. It was clear this was going to be an uphill battle for Nowry just going by the officiating.
Shortly into the second, the American struck back. Nowry snapped Khachatryan down, locked the front head, and then cut the corner for a takedown. A proceeding lift attempt was fought off halfway by Khachatryan. Nowry was unable to hoist for a four, but he did turn it over for two, subsequently assuming a 4-3 lead. The one-point advantage didn’t last long. Later on in the frame, Nowry was dinged out of nowhere for his second passivity of the bout. Khachatryan went for his lift, which Nowry did his best to bottom out on. But the Brazilian was awarded a step-out on the attempt. The US challenged the call, and lost, making the score 6-4. Nowry brought pressure for the remainder of the homestretch, outworking Khachatryan in each exchange. Unfortunately for the USA, there would be no calls coming their way, giving Nowry a frustrating loss for silver following what was such an overall encouraging tournament for him.
Earlier this week, Smith noted that from a competitive aspect, he felt more motivation towards the Pan Ams than he even did at the Open. That’s because both heavyweight bronze medalists from the Paris Worlds were going to be in attendance, and at this stage in his career, matches against accomplished monsters are how Smith gauges his current progress.
But before there would be another main event showdown to look forward to, Smith had to do his part. His first match of the tournament, a crushing disposal of Josa Henriquez (ESA), got him off on the right track. In the 130-kilogram semis, Smith was just as fearsome. Battling with Luis Barrios (MEX), the native Californian received two off of a Barrios caution before benefiting from the first passivity/par terre chance of the bout. It was over quickly. Smith circled around the lead, cinched up the “Front Headlock of Death” and forcefully compelled Barrios to roll over. The fall arrived soon after.
The heavyweight final offered what Smith has been wanting — a shot in the batter’s box at 2017 World bronze medalist Oscar Pino Hinds (CUB). At the 2017 Pan Ams, Hinds caught Smith with a four-pointer shortly into the match before the American picked up a takedown late in the second only to drop a 4-2 decision. This one played out eerily similar. Hinds lugged his big body into an impassioned Smith and brought him up and over for four. They reset. Smith crashed in, divvying around in the tie-ups, trying to use his legs to take one inch at a time. Hinds was occasionally being put onto his heels, there simply wasn’t much there for Smith to work with as the first period reached its conclusion.
A passivity on Smith saw Hinds seize another point with an opportunity for more. Smith defended the Cuban’s lock well, and after that, Hinds basically went into survival mode. Smith brought up his workrate and kept trying to clear his wrists so as to plow underhooks. It became the same old story that was supposed to have changed with the emphasis on negative wrestling. There were several instances where Smith’s arms were straight and his elbows locked as he tried ramming inside. It didn’t matter. There would be no passivity for Hinds, even as he begrudgingly met Smith’s repeated engagements. Ultimately, the Cuban remained upright to the end, sealing his third consecutive Pan Am Championships title. For Smith, it is his second silver at the event and his fourth overall medal (he won in 2015).
- Ellis Coleman (Army/WCAP) needed only a pair of throws to snare his first win on Thursday at the expense of Jose Betancourt (ECU), but surprisingly, that would be it. 2017 Pan Ams runner-up Joilson De Brito Ramos (BRA) scored a 7-5 decision to upset Coleman in the quarterfinals. 2016 Olympic gold medalist Ismael Borrero Molina (CUB), now firmly entrenched at the higher weight, broke and battered De Brito Ramos in the semis, which ended Coleman’s eligibility for the repechage.
- Marine Captain Daniel Miller (97 kg) didn’t have the opportunity to go on a pronounced run, either, falling to 2018 Granma Cup gold medalist Gabriel Rosillo (CUB) 8-0 in his only bout of the day.
2018 Pan American Championships — Lima, Peru
DAY 1 TEAM USA GRECO-ROMAN RESULTS
55 kg — Max Nowry (Army/WCAP) — silver
WON Brandon Escobar (HON) 6-1
WON Javier Barrera Palacios (PER) 8-0, TF
WON Mauricio Sanchez (MEX) 9-0, TF
LOSS Sargis Khachatryan (BRA) 6-4
60 kg — Mike Fuenffinger (Army/WCAP)
LOSS Dicther Toro Castaneda (COL) 8-6
63 kg — Ryan Mango (Army/WCAP) — gold
WON Mauri Vincente (BRA) 8-0, TF
WON Gerardo Montes (PER) 8-0, TF
WON German Diaz (PUR) via fall
WON Adam MacFayden (CAN) via forfeit
67 kg — Ellis Coleman (Army/WCAP)
WON Jose Sanchez Betancourt (ECU) 8-0, TF
LOSS Joilson De Brito Ramos (BRA) 7-5
72 kg — RaVaughn Perkins (NYAC) — gold
WON David Barbosa (BRA) 9-0, TF
WON Fernando Vincente Gomez (MEX) via forfeit
WON Christopher Palacios Alexander (PER) 8-0, TF
WON Wuileixis Rivas Espinosa (VEN) 4-0
97 kg — Daniel Miller (Marines)
LOSS Gabriel Rosillo (CUB) 8-0, TF
130 kg — Robby Smith — silver
WON Jose Henriquez (ESA) 13-0, TF
WON Luis Barrios (MEX) via fall
LOSS Oscar Pino Hinds (CUB) 5-0
TEAM USA DAY 2 DRAWS
77 kg — Kamal Bey (Sunkist)
vs. Jair Cuero Munoz (MEX)
82 kg — Geordan Speiller (Florida Jets)
round-robin with Brayden Ambo (CAN), Andil Barros Machado (BRA), & Luis Rojas (VEN)
87 kg — Ben Provisor (NYAC/NLWC)
vs. Jose Moreno Bustos (CHI)