Two U.S. Greco-Roman wrestlers who are attempting to qualify the U.S. for the 2000 Olympic Games, Dennis Hall (Plover, Wis./Sunkist Kids) at 127.75 pounds and Matt Lindland (Lincoln, Neb./Sunkist Kids) at 167.5 pounds, were undefeated in preliminaries at the Pan American Championships in Cali, Colombia through action on May 23.
The nation that wins the gold medal at 127.75 pounds and 167.5 pounds will qualify their nation to compete at that weight class in the Sydney Olympics. This is the last chance qualifying activity for U.S. wrestlers. The U.S. has already qualified for the Olympics at the other six Greco-Roman weight classes.
Hall won three matches in the preliminaries. He pinned Renes of Colombia in 2:25, defeated Azerbaijani of Canada, 3-0 and scored an 11-0 technical fall over Cruz of Mexico, 11-0.
Hall will face Cuba's Roberto Monzon in the gold-medal match on Wednesday evening. The winner will qualify their nation for the Olympics. Hall pinned Monzon in the gold-medal finals at the 1999 Pan American Games in Canada.
Hall was a 1996 Olympic silver medalist, a 1995 World Champion and a 1994 World bronze medalist.
Lindland also won three times in the preliminaries and has qualified for Wednesday's semifinals, with the opponent yet to be determined. He won by technical falls over Soto of Chile, 13-0 and Vierling of Canada, 11-0, then pinned Cruz of Puerto Rico in 58 seconds.
Still alive in Lindland's weight class is 1993 World Champion Nestor Alamanza of Cuba. Lindland may face him in either the semifinals or finals, depending upon the results of Wednesday morning's action.
Lindland placed sixth in the 1998 World Championships and was the 1999 Pan American Games Champion.
The U.S. remained undefeated in Greco-Roman action through the first two days of the tournament. All eight of the U.S. wrestlers have either qualified for the semifinals or the gold-medal match at their weight classes.
The two U.S. wrestlers who won special Olympic Qualification Tournaments on Monday, Brandon Paulson (Golden Valley, Minn./Minnesota Storm) at 119 pounds and Heath Sims (Huntington Beach, Calif./Dave Schultz WC) at 152 pounds, received byes into the semifinals as champions of the qualifying event.
Other U.S. wrestlers without a loss in Greco-Roman at the Pan American Championships include Glenn Nieradka (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) at 138.75 pounds, Dan Henderson (Gresham, Ore./Dave Schultz WC) at 187.25 pounds, Garrett Lowney (Appleton, Wis./Minnesota Storm) at 213.75 pounds and Rulon Gardner (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) at 286 pounds.
The U.S. team is led by Olympic head coach Dan Chandler of Minneapolis, Minn., Olympic assistant coach Rob Hermann of Pensacola, Fla. and USA Wrestling Greco-Roman National Coach Steve Fraser of Colorado Springs, Colo.
The U.S. Women's team began competition on May 23, and all eight wrestlers remain alive in their weight classes.
Iris Smith (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) has already clinched the gold medal at 165.25 pounds with two victories on Tuesday.
U.S. wrestlers who are undefeated so far include Malissa Sherwood (Rocklin, Calif./Dave Schultz WC) at 123.25 pounds, Sara McMann (Lock Haven, Pa./Sunkist Kids) at 136.5 pounds and Melanie Macari (Fremont, Calif./Viking WC) at 149.75 pounds. Macari has secured a spot in the gold-medal finals, while McMann and Sherwood have qualified for the semifinals.
Sherwood will face Mabel Fonseca of Puerto Rico in the semifinals, a rematch of the 2000 U.S. Nationals finals won by Fonseca. Two U.S. wrestlers have one loss but are still in the hunt for a medal: Clarrisa Chun (Kapolei, Hawaii/Viking WC) at 101.25 pounds and Jenny Wong (Minneapolis, Minn./Sunkist Kids) at 112.25 pounds. The U.S. team is coached by Jack Griffin of Evanston, Ill.
Women's wrestling is not yet an Olympic sport, so the tournament has no Olympic bearing. However, the top women's wrestlers in the hemisphere will compete for coveted Pan American titles. The United States is the reigning World Team champion in women's wrestling.
Held three of every four years during the non-Pan American Games years, the Pan American Championships features the best wrestlers in North, Central and South America. The Greco-Roman tournament will be held on May 22-24, the women's tournament on May 23-24 and the freestyle tournament on May 25-27.
PAN AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIPS at Cali, Colombia, May 23
U.S. Greco-Roman performances
54 kg/119 lbs. - Brandon Paulson, Golden Valley, Minn. - received by into semifinals
58 kg/127.75 lbs. - Dennis Hall, Plover, Wis. - pin Renes (Colombia), 2:25; dec. Azerbaijani (Canada), 3-0; won by tech. fall over Cruz (Mexico), 11-0
63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Glenn Nieradka, Colorado Springs, Colo. - pin Azescani (Argentina), 0:53; pin Franco (Mexico), 0:53
69 kg/152 lbs. - Heath Sims, Huntington Beach, Calif. - received bye into semifinals
76 kg/167.5 lbs. - Matt Lindland, Lincoln, Neb. - won by tech. fall over Soto (Chile), 13-0; won by tech. fall over Vierling (Canada), 11-0; pinned Cruz (Puerto Rico), 0:58
85 kg/187.25 lbs. - Dan Henderson, Gresham, Ore. - won by forfeit over Jenks (Canada); dec. Saboa (Dominican Republic), 9-3
97 kg/213.75 lbs. - Garrett Lowney, Appleton, Wis. - pin Orellano (El Salvador), 0:33; dec. Torres (Venezuela), 9-4
130 kg/286 lbs. - Rulon Gardner, Colorado Springs, Colo. - won by tech. fall over Suazo (Chile), 10-0; dec. Fail (Panama)
U.S. women's team
46 kg/101.25 lbs. - Clarissa Chun, Kapolei, Hawaii - pin Medrono (El Salvador), 0:14; pin Banol (Colombia), 1:42; lost dec. to Carapa (Venezuela), 14-3
51 kg/112.25 lbs. - Jenny Wong, Minneapolis, Minn. - won by tech. fall over Serrdano (El Salvador), 10-0; won by tech. fall over Mateus (Colombia), 11-0; lost dec. to Andrade (Venezuela), 10-0
56 kg/123.75 lbs. - Malissa Sherwood, Rocklin, Calif. - pin Martinez (El Salvador), 1:03; pin Castillo (Mexico), 0:40
62 kg/136.5 lbs. - Sara McMann, Lock Haven, Pa. - won by tech. fall over Reinoso (Mexico), 12-1; dec. Patino (Colombia), 11-0
68 kg/149.75 lbs. - Melanie Macari, Fremont, Calif. - pin Narnez (Colombia), 0:10; pin Guerara (Venezuela), 2:52
75 kg/165.25 lbs. - Iris Smith, Colorado Springs, Colo., 1st place - pin Ruiz (Colombia), 0:47; dec. Henendez (Venezuela)