The US Greco-Roman roster for the Pan Am Championships, scheduled for May 5th in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, was sort of released last week. The reason why it’s “sort of” is because one weight class, 71 kilograms, is yet to be completely nailed down. In the previous Coach Lindland’s Report, US National Team head coach Matt Lindland said that essentially, the Pan Ams representative at 71 is going to a) likely be the World Team Trials champion (naturally) and that b), since it is currently seen as a three-horse race, zeroing in on one competitor alone is simply too difficult. It’s a unique set of circumstances. The major players in this case — 2016 US National champ Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm), 2016 World Team member Chris Gonzalez (Army/WCAP), and 2016 US Olympic Team Trials champ RaVaughn Perkins (NYAC) — know the deal and all three want to represent the country in Brazil. Therefore, Vegas is where (and when) the Pan Ams roster will be conclusively decided. A couple of days later, it’s onto Brazil.
Speiller and Martinez going up
Not to be outdone in terms of relevancy is the news that Geordan Speiller (Florida Jets, world no. 9) and Patrick Martinez (NYAC) are going up in weight. The cat slipped out of the bag with Martinez upon the Pan Am roster release. Obviously, Martinez is no stranger to 85. He entered the Olympic Trials at 85 kilos and two months later won the University Nationals at the weight. Martinez’s entry into the fold at 85 instantly juices things up at the World Team Trials. Ben Provisor (NYAC), he of two-consecutive Olympic teams and also the consensus favorite, is joined by 2016 National champion Kevin Radford (Sunkist), Open runner-up Khymba Johnson (NYAC), and Lucas Sheridan (Army/WCAP). Martinez being added to the mix provides several intriguing match-up opportunities, including an Olympic Trials rematch with Provisor. A Trials victory for Martinez would make it three straight Senior World Team appearances.
Speiller finally pulling the trigger and committing to 80 kilograms is hardly surprising given his recent run of success at the non-Olympic weight. He returned to action for February’s Dave Schultz Memorial, which resulted in a tournament win. Speiller then won one match at the Havana Cup to claim gold there, too. And then three weeks ago at the Hungarian Grand Prix, the Floridian left a lasting impression on his march to the final, defeating three talented opponents before falling to 2014 World Champion Peter Bacsi (HUN, world no. 2) 4-0 for silver.
Without giving too much away from our previews, it is obvious that like Martinez, Speiller’s jump up changes the complexion of a weight class. 2011 World Team member and 2016 National Champion Cheney Haight (NYAC) is still going strong and has gotten in his fair share of matches over the last six months. Haight battled Speiller in the 2015 National finals with the latter earning a 5-1 decision. Otherwise, youth is a big theme at 80, with Barrett Stanghill (Minnesota Storm) and Jon Jay Chavez (NYAC) representing the latest batch of strong, capable up-and-coming Senior athletes. Incidentally, Speiller also defeated Stanghill in the finals of the University Nationals last year.
What’s coming up here
- Episode 3 of the “Five Point Move Podcast” will be dropping this week. It will include a great guest. If you have yet to check out last week’s episode, here it is.
- An all-new “Coach Lindland’s Report” — if you have questions, send ’em in!
- Previews are rolling — we’re trying to space them out a little, you know, to build anticipation. Or something.
- Athlete profiles — get to know the outstanding Greco-Roman athletes you need to keep an eye on for the Trials.
- Exciting features are on the way — we’ll keep you posted!