Holm wins gold, Rau takes bronze in Greco-Roman at Pan American Olympic Qualifier

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | March 06, 2016, 9:22 p.m. (ET)
Jordan Holm with his gold medal at 85 kg at the Pan American Olympic Qualifier. Photo by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors

FRISCO, Texas – Jordan Holm (Minneapolis, Minn./Minnesota Storm) won a gold medal at 85 kg/187 lbs,, the top U.S. performance in Greco-Roman at the Pan American Olympic Games Qualifier at the Dr Pepper Arena on Sunday.

Holm controlled the action in the finals, earning a 9-0 technical fall over Alfonso Leyva Yepez of Mexico. In the first period, he scored on a takedown, a pushout and a gutwrench to lead 5-0 at the break. Holm added four second period points, ending with a takedown, for the technical fall.

With his title, Holm earned a spot in the championship finals, earning Olympic qualification for the nation at his weight class. The top two wrestlers in each of the six Olympic weight classes contested have qualified their nation for the Olympic Games.

“The last match the guy just bailed the whole time. I feel like someone must have scared him before the match. On the whole, I'm thankful to have won. On the beginning of the season, this was the first thing on my calendar I was focused on. This is where all my focus has been all season. So it's good to get it done today. It's always nice to win a gold medal,” said Holm.

Holm was not scored upon in his wins, outscoring his opponents 20-0. He opened with a dominant 8-0 technical fall over Alexander Brown Thieriault of Canada. In the semifinals, Holm defeated Yorgen Cova Pulido of Venezuela, 3-0. Holm has competed for the USA at the last three World Championships.

"I firmly believe God has given me the abilities to win an Olympic gold medal. I'm going to keep doing the best i can to put myself in a position to do that. I don't think there's anyone out there in the world that's going to dominate me or do anything to me that I can't beat. I'm confident in that and I'm focused on my next match,” said Holm.

Claiming a bronze medal at 98 kg/215 lbs. was 2014 U.S. World Team member Joe Rau (Minneapolis, Minn./Minnesota Storm), who closed out his tournament with an 11-2 technical fall over Davi Albino of Brazil. Trailing 2-1 at the break, Rau scored a takedown in the second period and hit a series of gut wrenches to close out the victory.

Rau was headlocked and pinned at the 1:35 mark of the first period of his semifinal match at 98 kg/213 lbs. by Cuba’s Yasmany Lugo Cabrera of Cuba, which meant he could not qualify his weight class at this event. He opened with a solid 6-0 win over Pan American Games silver medalist Kevin Mejia Castillo of Honduras.

“It’s heart breaking to come here and not qualify. I felt good wrestling and I got caught against the Cubans. All it takes is one mistake and it’s devastating. It sucks it happened but I just have to come back, win the Olympic Trials and then qualify in Mongolia,” said Rau.

Rau, a Div. III national champion for Elmhurst College, made his U.S. World Team at 80 kg/176 lbs. Rau moved up to 98 kg/215 lbs. this year with much success, including a 2016 U.S. Open title and a silver medal in Croatia.

“For me, it was a good change because I was cutting a lot of weight. Now I’m just focusing on wrestling and my weight is not that big of an issue anymore. It’s crazy how much better you can get technically and strategically when that’s your whole focus. So going up in weight was a really good move for me.”

Two other U.S. athletes entered today and did not make the medal rounds, and were unable to qualify their weight classes: Ildar Hafizov (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army WCAP) at 59 kg/130 lbs. and RaVaughn Perkins (Omaha, Neb./New York AC) at 66 kg/145.5 lbs.

Hafizov opened with a 9-2 win over Ali Soto Mejias of Mexico, but was defeated in a wide-open quarterfinal bout by Canada’s Steven Takahashi, 13-15. Takahashi scored a four-point move in the closing 10 seconds to secure the win. When Takahashi failed to make the finals, Hafizov was not eligible for the repechage.

Perkins dropped a 0-9 technical fall to Jair Cuero Munoz of Colombia in his opening match, and was eliminated when Cuero failed to reach the finals.

“I was really pleased to see Jordan get that weight qualified. He competed really well today. I’m just a little disappointed a couple of our guys didn’t wrestle up to their capabilities. We sent our best guys here to get the job done and we came up a little short. All of our guys are capable of qualifying but didn’t allow themselves to do that because they wrestled very tight today,” said Lindland.

The United States has now qualified three of the six Greco-Roman weight classes for the Rio Olympic Games. The USA had already qualified at 75 kg/165 lbs. and 98 kg/215 lbs. after Andy Bisek won a bronze medal and Robby Smith placed fifth at the 2015 World Championships in Las Vegas, Nev.

The U.S. will have three more weight classes left to qualify (59kg, 66 kg, 98 kg). First, the U.S. Olympic Team Trials will be held in Iowa City, Iowa, April 9-10. Then, the USA will have to more chances to qualify those four weight classes, in Ulaanbaattar, Mongolia, April 22-24 and in Istanbul, Turkey, May 6-8. Lindland expects that the Olympic Trials champions in the non-qualified weights will compete at the next qualifiers.

“You want to be in the Olympics, you got to go qualify the weight class. In two weeks they got to go and get that weight qualified in Mongolia or they’re not an Olympian,” said Lindland.

Over the course of the three-day event, the USA qualified four more weight classes for the Olympic Games, one in women’s freestyle, two in men’s freestyle and one in Greco-Roman. Team USA came into the tournament with five weights qualified. Currently, the USA has nine weight classes qualified for the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, and still needs to qualify nine weight classes through the two last two qualifying events.

PAN AMERICAN OLYMPIC GAMES QUALIFIER
At Frisco, Texas, March 6

Greco-Roman results

59 kilos/130 lbs.
Gold medal – Andres Montano Arroyo (Ecuador)
Silver medal - Raiber Rodriguez Orozco (Venezuela)
Bronze medal – Pimentel Gonzalez (Dominican Republic)
Bronze medal – Steven Takahashi (Canada)
5th - Jose Magallanes Durand (Peru)
5th - Diego Robeiro Romanelli (Brazil)
Gold – Montano tech. fall Rodriguez, 8-0
Bronze – Gonzalez dec. Magallanes, 5-0
Bronze – Takahashi tech. fall Robeiro, 8-0

66 kilos/145.5 lbs.
Gold medal – Wuileixis Rivas Espinoza (Venezuela)
Silver medal - Miguel Martinez Palacio (Cuba)
Bronze medal – Jose Sanchez Betancourt (Ecuador)
Bronze medal – Jair Cuero Munoz (Colombia)
5th - David Choc Huoc (Guatemala)
5th - Jefrin Mejia Sambula (Honduras)
Gold – Rivas dec. Martinez, 3-2
Bronze – Sanchez tech. fall Choc, 9-0
Bronze - Cuero pin Mejia, 3:28

75 kilos/165 lbs.
Gold medal – Yurisandy Hernandez Rios (Cuba)
Silver medal - Carlos Munoz Jaramillo (Colombia)
Bronze medal – Maximillano Prudenzano (Argentina)
Bronze medal –. Juan Escobar (Mexico)
5th - Renzo Garcia Mendoza (Peru)
5th - Angelo Marques Moreira (Brazil)
Gold – Hernandez dec. Munoz, 6-0
Bronze – Prudenzano dec. Garcia, 6-4
Bronze – Escobar tech. fall Marques, 9-0

85 kilos/187 lbs.
Gold medal – Jordan Holm (USA)
Silver - Alfonso Leyva Yepez (Mexico)
Bronze medal – Yorgen Cova Pulido (Venezuela)
Bronze medal – Cristian Mosquera Mosquera (Colombia)
5th - Alexander Brown Theriault (Canada)
5th - Ronisson Brandao Santiago (Brazil)
Gold – Holm tech. fall Leyva, 9-0
Bronze – Cova tech. fall Brown, 8-0
Bronze – Mosquera dec. Brandao, 5-0

98 kilos/216 lbs.
Gold medal – Yasmany Lugo Cabrera (Cuba)
Silver medal - Luillys Perez Mora (Venezuela)
Bronze medal – Joe Rau (USA)
Bronze medal – Oscar Loango Solis (Colombia)
5th - Davi Albino (Brazil)
5th - Ivan Burtovoy (Argentina)
Gold – Lugo forfeit over Perez
Bronze – Rau tech fall Albino, 11-2
Bronze – Loango tech. fall Burtovoy, 9-0

130 kilos/286.5 lbs.
Gold medal – Erwin Caraballo Cabera (Venezuela)
Silver - Antoine Abou Jaoude (Brazil)
Bronze medal – Andres Ayub Valenzuela (Chile)
Bronze medal - Jose Encarnacion Ovando (Dominican Republic)
5th - Randy Lambert Martinez (Honduras)
5th - Edgardo Lopez Morell (Puerto Rico)
Gold – Caraballo tech. fall Jaoude, 8-0
Bronze – Ayub dec. Lambert, 3-0
Bronze - Encarnacion dec. Lopez, 3-0

U.S. Greco-Roman performances 

59 kg/130 lbs. – Ildar Hafizov, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army WCAP)
WIN Ali Soto Mejias (Mexico), 9-2
LOSS Steven Takahashi (Canada), 13-15

66 kg/145.5 lbs. – RaVaughn Perkins, Omaha, Neb. (New York AC)
LOSS Jair Cuero Munoz (Colombia), tech. fall 0-9

85 kg/187 lbs. – Jordan Holm, Minneapolis, Minn. (Minnesota Storm), gold medal
WIN Alexander Brown Thieriault (Canada), tech. fall 8-0
WIN Yorgen Cova Pulido (Venezuela), 3-0
WIN Alfonso Leyva Yepez (Mexico), tech. fall, 9-0

98 kg/213 lbs. – Joe Rau, Minneapolis, Minn. (Minnesota Storm), bronze medal
WIN Kevin Mejia Castillo (Honduras), 6-0
LOSS Yasmany Lugo Cabrera (Cuba), pin
WIN Davi Albino (Brazil), tech. fall 11-2

Olympic Qualification in Greco-Roman from the Pan American Olympic Qualifier today
59 kg/130 lbs.– Ecuador, Venezuela
66 kg/145.5 lbs. – Venezuela, Cuba
75 kg/165 lbs. – Cuba, Colombia
85 kg/187 lbs.– United States, Mexico
98 kg/215 lbs –Cuba, Venezuela
130 kg/286 lbs. – Venezuela, Brazil

Updated Olympic Qualification in Greco-Roman for Pan American Nations
Cuba, 5 (59 kg, 66 kg, 75 kg, 98 kg, 130 kg)
Venezuela 4 (59 kg, 66 kg, 98 kg, 130 kg)
United States, 3 (75 kg, 85 kg, 130 kg)
Ecuador 1 (59 kg)
Colombia, 1 (75 kg)
Mexico 1 (85 kg)
Brazil 1 (130 kg)