Cejudo Schwab Mocco grab freestyle gold at Pan American Championships

By USA Wrestling | June 04, 2006, 7:21 p.m. (ET)
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - It was a banner night and weekend for the United States men's freestyle team at the Pan American Championships.

Henry Cejudo, Doug Schwab and Steve Mocco each won gold medals Saturday night in freestyle while Clint Wattenberg added a silver medal. The American freestyle team, which also received a gold medal from Nik Fekete and a silver medal from Donny Pritzlaff on Friday, won the team title with Cuba coming in second.

American Greco-Roman wrestlers Lindsey Durlacher (55 kg/121 lbs.), Jacob Clark (84 kg/185 lbs.) and Dremiel Byers (120 kg/264.5 lbs.) each finished second with teammate Mike Ellsworth (66 kg/145.5 lbs.) earning a bronze medal. Team USA was second behind Cuba in the Greco-Roman team race. Joe Warren won a gold medal for the U.S. on Friday in Greco-Roman.

The 19-year-old Cejudo rolled to a 6-0, 4-2 win over Cuba's Luis Ibanes in the finals at 55 kg/121 pounds. Schwab lost the first period to Cuba's Ivan Lopes at 66 kg/145.5 pounds before rebounding to win the title by a 2-3, 5-1, 1-1 decision. Mocco pinned Venezuela's Edgar Becara in the second period of their finals bout at 120 kg/264.5 pounds.

Cejudo competes for the Sunkist Kids, Schwab for the Gator Wrestling Club, and Mocco and Wattenberg for the New York Athletic Club.

The U.S. nearly had a fourth freestyle gold Saturday night before Wattenberg lost a heartbreaker in the finals at 84 kg/185 pounds. Wattenberg won the first period 4-1 over Reineria Salas of Cuba and led 1-0 late in the second period. But Salas scored a takedown with 10 seconds left in the period and then won the third period 1-0.

"I'm extremely happy with our performance," U.S. freestyle coach Mike Duroe said. "The guys wrestled with a lot of energy and a lot of focus."

The American team excelled despite having little time to prepare for this event after competing at the U.S. World Team Trials on May 27-28 in Sioux City, Iowa.

"Considering our guys peaked for the Trials, I was very impressed with how they responded down here," Duroe said. "Our guys did a great job."

The final match of the tournament was a battle of Greco-Roman World champions with Byers facing Cuba's Mijail Lopez. Byers won the first period 3-2 before Lopez came back to win 4-0, 3-1 in the final two periods. Byers, who wrestles for the U.S. Army, won the 2002 World title and Lopez is the defending World champion.

The three-day event concludes today with the entire women's freestyle competition. The Pan Am nations are from North, Central and South America.