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Four Years After Gold-Medal Slump, Greco-Roman Wrestlers Start Pan Ams With Two Golds

By Mike Gardner | July 16, 2015, 12:27 a.m. (ET)

Andy Bisek celebrates his gold medal win over Alvis Almendra of Panama in the 85 kg. class of the men's Greco-Roman wrestling at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto on July 15, 2015.

MISSISSAUGA, Ontario -- Andy Bisek’s moustache proved to be his good luck charm en route to a gold medal in the 75 kg. Greco-Roman wrestling at the Pan American Games Wednesday night in Mississauga, Ontario.

“I’ve had it since the summer of 2011, so a long time,” said Bisek, who won his first Pan American Games medal by great superiority. “I don’t know if people will recognize me (without it).”

Bisek defeated Alvis Almendra of Panama, 8-0, dominating the first period, quickly pinning Almendra and earning eight points quick succession. Juan Escobar of Mexico and Carlos Munoz of Colombia won the bronze medals.

“I was able to push the pace on my feet, came out really hard and quickly faded, I felt,” Bisek said. “He was put down and I knew that was my opportunity to finish the match right there. Getting as much turns as I can and ending the match, that’s what I’m looking for.”

Bisek wasn’t Team USA’s only winner of the night as Jon Anderson also took home gold at 85 kg.

Anderson won the gold-medal match over Querys Perez of Venezuela, 9-0, by great superiority and just like his teammate proudly carried the United States flag around the mat draped over his shoulders.

“I’ve seen people do that since I was a little guy,” Anderson said. “It felt good to finally do it at a Pan American Games; next up is the Olympic Games.”

Cristian Mosquera of Columbia and Alan Vera of Cuba won the bronze medals.

The U.S. took home a total of four medals – one in each weight class – Wednesday, with Bryce Saddoris earning silver at 66 kg. and Spenser Mango bronze at 59 kg.

Mango overcame Jansel Ramirez of Dominican Republic, 6-3.

Mango’s medal was the first of the night and he was proud to claim the first for USA Wrestling at the 2015 Pan American Games, but was disappointed it was not gold as his loss to eventual champion, Andres Montaño of Ecuador in the semifinal, proved to be his own error.

Watch the Pan American Games on the networks of ESPN.

“It feels good to come out and get a win at the end, but that was not the goal of this tournament – the goal was to come out here and leave with a gold medal,” Mango said. “I’m happy to win this last match, but overall I’m a little disappointed I let that one in the semis slip away.”

Montaño defeated Ali Soto of Mexico while Chilean Cristóbal Torres won the other bronze medal in the 59 kg. weight class.

For Saddoris, he also knew there was fine-tuning to be made after losing 13-1 in the gold-medal matct to Venezuelan Wuileixis Rivas. The bronze medals were won by Miguel Martinez of Cuba and Peruvian Mario Molina.

“I just need to fine tune everything – more contact on my feet, pushing and pulling at my pace and not follow into someone else’s pace like I did today,” Saddoris said of his Pan American Games performance. “I guess when you get at this level it’s always the little things (you need to work on). If you have to make big time adjustments that can be scary before world championships, but this is what this is all about.”

Prior to Wednesday, Team USA had not won a Greco-Roman wrestling gold medal at Pan Ams since 2007.

“We’re getting better,” Anderson said. “We’re on the warpath, we’re on a mission and that’s going to stop not until we get to the top. We keep getting better and bonding, we’re a tightknit group and that camaraderie, brotherhood we have is unmatched.”