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In One Of The World’s Few Sporting Events Friday, U.S. Greco-Roman Wrestlers Claim 4 Olympic Quotas

By Karen Price | March 13, 2020, 4:22 p.m. (ET)

G'Angelo Hancock at the 2019 World Wrestling Championships on Sept. 15, 2019 in Nur-Sultan, Kazkhstan.


With most sporting events slated to be held Friday cancelled in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, one of the few still going on resulted in four Olympic quota spots for U.S. Greco-Roman wrestlers.

Ildar Hafizov (60 kg.), Alejandro Sancho (67 kg.), Joe Rau (87 kg.) and G’Angelo Hancock (97 kg.) all reached the finals at the Pan-American Olympic Qualifier in Ottawa, Ontario. Though they’ll all wrestle for tournament championships tonight, their main objective for the day is complete. Wrestlers who finish in the top two at this weekend’s tournament earn quota spots for their countries.

With one more chance left to qualify the two remaining weights for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the U.S. has already matched the number of Greco-Roman wrestlers it sent to Rio in 2016.

The wrestlers who fill those quotas will be named at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Wrestling, which are scheduled for next month in University Park, Pennsylvania.

Hafizov defeated Samuel Gurria Vigueras of Mexico 7-2 in the semifinal to reach the final against Luis Alberto Orta Sanchez of Cuba. This was the second Pan-Am event for Hafizov after winning bronze at the Pan American Games Lima 2019 last year.

Sancho earned his spot in the gold-medal bout against Colombia’s Julian Stiven Horta Acevedo by defeating Mexico’s Manuel Alejandro Lopez Salcedo 8-1.

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In the 87 kg. class, Rau took on Lesyan Osvaldo Cousin Otomuro of Jamaica and came away with a 9-1 victory after a gut wrench and two turns. The two-time world championships team member earned a spot in the final against Daniel Gregorich Hechavarria of Cuba.

Hancock, a 2016 junior world bronze medalist, is looking for his first gold medal at his fourth Pan-Am event after winning silver at the 2019 Pan American Games and Pan American Championships. He also has a bronze medal from the 2017 championships. He defeated Kevin Mejia Castillo, of Honduras, 9-0 in the semifinals and will face Gabriel Alejandro Rosillo Kindelan of Cuba in the championship bout.

While the U.S. didn’t earn a quota spot at 77 kg. or 130 kg., there will be one last chance to do so. However, the World Olympic Games Qualifier scheduled for April 30 to May 3 in Sofia, Bulgaria, has been postponed to June as of this week.

The Pan-American Olympic Qualifier continues with women’s freestyle on Saturday and men’s freestyle on Sunday.

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic and Paralympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.