So far, the “test event” for next week’s Olympic Games Qualifier is going just fine for Team USA.
Four Greco-Roman athletes — Max Nowry (55 kg, Army/WCAP, world #5), Mike Fuenffinger (60 kg, Army/WCAP), Ray Bunker (72 kg, Marines), G’Angelo Hancock (97 kg, Sunkist), and ’18 World silver Adam Coon (130 kg, NYAC/Cliff Keen) — will all be competing for gold medals when action resumes later today at the Pan-American Championships in Ottawa, Canada. Wrestling began at 11:30am ET and was broadcast live in the United States on Trackwrestling.
Coon, perhaps the most visible Greco-Roman wrestler in the country, was always going to have a lot of eyes on him at this tournament regardless of the result — particularly due to his draw. Coon was paired with ’17 World bronze Yasmany Acosta Fernandez (CHL), who had defeated Coon at last year’s Pan Am Games. But Acosta Fernandez did not suit up, and Coon advanced to the semis via forfeit.
Waiting for him was Pan Am Games silver Moises Perez Hellburg (VEN). Coon and Hellburg met in the opening round of the Matteo Pellicone Memorial in January with the Venezuelan coming away with a decision victory.
That would not be the case on Friday.
Trailing 1-0 in the second, Coon got to his patented over/under beast-lock and pounded Hellburg to the top for four. Back on the feet, and with Hellburg plodding in the ties, Coon went back to it again. Only this time, there was no escape. Hellburg was pinned immediately, and Coon had secured himself a berth in this evening’s finals against Cuban Angel Pacheco Romero. Coon flattened Romero at the ’19 Pan Am Championships.
Fuenffinger & Hancock
Two-time National champ Fuenffinger has been especially impressive today. In his first match, he destroyed Miguel Aguilar (MEX) 11-0. After spinning behind off of a front headlock, Fuenffinger went big with a pair of reverse lifts — one for four, the second for five. That was that.
Jancel Pimentel Gonzalez (DOM) enjoyed a 1-0 passive lead against Fuenffinger in the semis before everything changed. From top par terre, Fuenffinger coaxed Gonzalez to his back with a lock — and then held him right there for the pin. In the finals, Fuenffinger will mix it up with ’19 Pan Am Games silver Dicther Toro Castaneda (COL).
Hancock vs. Rosillo
Hancock got off to a good start against Miguel Aguilar (MEX), cruising to a 9-0 tech that was earned thanks to a first-period reverse chest wrap from par terre, followed by a takedown and correct hold.
Everyone expected ’19 Junior World Champion Gabriel Rosillo (CUB) to present a problem. Rosillo — active, athletic, confident — defeated the American in the finals of both Pan Am events a year ago. They chipped at each other from the onset today but Hancock hung in there. He trailed 4-3 heading into the second, and that’s when Rosillo really struck. After an exchange, the Cuban managed to grab two plus a follow-up gut. He then held Hancock in place for the fall.
But that was not the end of their mini-rivalry on Friday. Since 97 kilos was pooled, all Hancock had to do to earn an immediate rematch was get past Luillys Perez Mora (VEN), which he did via 3-0 decision. Now the stage is set yet again, and Hancock will have one more crack at Rosillo when the final round begins at 5:00pm.
Nowry, Bunker, & Sancho
Two-time Pan Am Championships gold Nowry and ’19 World Teammate Bunker have yet to wrestle a match. Nowry is operating in a three-man pool where Sargis Khachatryan (BRA) has forfeited twice. At 72 kilos, it’s just Bunker and Joilson de Brito Ramos (BRA). As reported, de Brito Ramos is seen as a viable contender next week at the Pan Am Olympic Qualifier.
’19 National Champion Alex Sancho (67 kg, Army/WCAP) was brilliant in his first match, and clutch in his second. He raced out to a 4-0 lead at the expense of Joe Dashou (CAN) and tacked on four more thanks to a beautiful side lift. He was given a fitful challenge in the quarters by German Diaz (PUR). Sancho was behind on the scoreboard 8-7 when he rattled off four points in a row (takedown and correct hold) to complete the comeback and prevail 11-8. In the semis, ’16 Olympic/two-time World champ Ismael Borrero Molina (CUB) got the better of Sancho for the second time in three seasons via 9-0 tech. Sancho will go for bronze versus Julian Horta Acevedo (COL) when wrestling resumes.
2020 Pan-American Championships
March 6-7 — Ottawa, Canada
TEAM USA DAY 1 RESULTS
Max Nowry (Army/WCAP)
WON Sargis Khachatryan (BRA) via forfeit
vs. Kieran Akhtar (CAN)
Mike Fuenffinger (Army/WCAP)
WON Miguel Aguilar (MEX) 9-0, TF
WON Jancel Pimentel Gonzalez (DOM) via fall
vs. Dicther Toro Castaneda (COL)
Alex Sancho (Army/WCAP)
WON Joseph Dashou (CAN) 8-0, TF
WON German Diaz (PUR) 11-8
LOSS Ismael Borrero Molina (CUB) 9-0, TF
vs. Julian Horta Acevedo (COL)
G’Angelo Hancock (Sunkist)
WON Edson Acuna Salazar (MEX) 9-0, TF
LOSS Gabriel Rosillo (CUB) via fall
WON Luillys Perez Mora (VEN) 3-0
vs. Gabriel Rosillo (CUB)
Adam Coon (NYAC/Cliff Keen)
WON Yasmany Acosta Fernandez (CHL) via forfeit
WON Moises Hellburg (VEN) via fall
vs. Angel Pacheco Romero (CUB)
TEAM USA DAY 2 DRAWS
Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm)
vs. Yosvanys Pena Flores (CUB)
John Stefanowicz (Marines)
vs. Jose Vargas Rueda (MEX)
Joe Rau (TMWC/Chicago RTC)
vs. Luis Avendano Rojas (VEN)