Pan American Championship Recap

By Dennis Bowsher | Dec. 02, 2018, 12 a.m. (ET)

Lima, Peru - Pan Am Championship Recap


            This years Pan American Championships were held in Lima, Peru. This event also doubled as the test event for the 2019 Pan American Games. What also makes this competition important is that it is used to fill quota slots for the Pan Am Games in 2019. At the Pan Am Games, there will be a total of 32 athletes in each gender and the countries that compete are based on the results of this competition. Most likely, men will only have 2 per country, because 16 countries are represented here, but the women have some remaining quota spots that allow a country to potentially have 3 individuals compete at Pan Am Games.

The 2018 Pan Am Championships started with the men’s semi-final. Representing Team USA were Brendan Anderson, Seamus Millet, and Sam Ruddock.

            Group A saw Anderson and Millet representing Team USA and looking to advance to the final. In the swim event, Millet swam a 2:14 which was two seconds faster than his time at World Championships a few months ago. Anderson had a great swim, swimming a 2:03 and just missing his personal best by half a second. The fencing event started out rough for both Anderson and Millet. Anderson started 1v/7d and Millet started out with 1v/8d. Anderson got into a groove and got himself to just under 50%, finishing with 11v/13d. Millet went on quite a streak. After started 1v/8d, he only lost 2 of his remaining 15 bouts. He ended up with 14v/10d. Both athletes started right next to each in 11th and 12th place before the laser run. They both worked together on the run and ended up crossing the finish line in 10th and 11th place, securing an automatic spot into the finals.

            Ruddock was the lone Team USA representative in Group B. Ruddock had a solid swim with a time of 2:04, a second under his time from the World Championships. Next up was the fencing event, he had a couple of rough patches but was able to get a couple streaks together as well. There were only 24 touches total in his semifinal, so each touch was worth a lot of points making each touch important. He ended up with a total of 10 victories and 13 defeats. His swim and fencing scores set him up to start the laser run in 15th place. He lost one place early on and ran in 16th place for most of the race, 1 spot out of automatic qualification to the final. But after a strong last lap of running, he moved himself up to 14th place and secured his automatic qualification in the finals.



            With no semi final for the women, 42 women looked to be crowned Pan Am Champion and Team USA women was ready to go. Competing today was Naomi Ross, Jessica Davis, and Avery Niemann. Ross was the first one in the water for Team USA. She finished with a time of 2:34, slightly off what she had been last season. Davis touched the wall in a 2:28, a small improvement on how she finished last season. In the final heat, Niemann touch the wall first in 2:06, five seconds ahead of the next fastest competitor. The fencing event was a great event for Team USA women, with all three athletes finish in the top half. Leading the way was Ross, coming in at 33 victories and just 8 defeats. Her amazing score put her on top of the fencing leaderboard in a tie for first place. Not too far behind was Davis with 27 victories and 14 defeats and right behind her was Niemann with 23 victories and 18 defeats. Any time an athlete can score above 50% is a good day. Next up was the riding event. Davis was first and drew a tough horse. She had 2 refusals, a knockdown and some time penalties; scoring a total of 213. Ross drew a difficult horse as well. Her warmup went a little rough and the horse was having problems in the competition arena. Unfortunately, Ross got 4 refusals and was eliminated from the riding event. Niemann drew a good horse and only had 11 time faults for a total score of 289. In the laser run, Niemann started in 4th place but fell back a few places to finish in 14th place. Despite this drop, she has improved her running and looks to continue to improve the laser run in order to move up places in future competitions. Davis had a strong laser run, going 13:48 to finish 13th in the laser run discipline and 18th overall. Despite having a zero for the ride, Ross still fought hard to finish in 28th place, passing a Canadian athlete at the end. All three athletes combined to finish 5th place as a team against the 15 countries in the field. Ross passing the Canadian athlete was more than just her moving up one place in the rankings. By passing the Canadian, Ross most likely secured a 3rd spot for Team USA at the Pan Am Games next year. We still need to wait for an official announcement, but it looks like Team USA will have 3 women competing and fighting for an Olympic Qualification at the Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru in 2019.



            Today was Team USA men’s turn in the individual final. In the swimming event, Millet added a couple of seconds to his semi final time, going a 2:16, which equaled his time from Worlds a couple of months ago. Anderson and Ruddock were in the same heat and both shot out of a cannon. Ruddock took the lead in the heat and never looked back, winning his heat in a time of 2:01.7. Anderson dropped a second from his semi final time and scored a new personal record with a time of 2:02.1. The fencing event was a good showing for Team USA. Ruddock had a couple of missed opportunities but fought hard, ending up with a total of 15 victories and 20 defeats. Millet had some great actions during the fence and finished 1 touch ahead of Ruddock with 16 victories and 19 defeats. The fencing event today belonged to Anderson. He finished in a tie for first place with a total score of 24 victories and 11 defeats. Both Anderson and Ruddock drew the same horse. It was a difficult horse to get around the course because it had been eliminated twice during the women’s final. They used their experience to finish the course with just a couple of refusals, which is good considering the horse had 8 refusals the day before. Anderson ended up with a score of 256 and Ruddock had a score of 214. The riding event is where Millet shined. He had a great ride with only 7 time faults and scoring a total of 294. This was the highest score on that horse for both the men’s and women’s final. All three athletes had strong running and some good shooting including a 12 second final shoot for Ruddock, consistent shooting for Millet and an 8 second shoot from Anderson. Anderson finished the day overall in 12th place; Millet was in 18th place and Ruddock was in 24th place. In the team event, Team USA men combined to finish in 6th place overall against all 16 countries in the competition.



            Day 4 saw the relay events for the competition. Millet and Ruddock competed in the men’s relay with Ross and Davis competing in the women’s relay. The women’s relay started the day with the swimming event. Davis led off in a 1:07 and Ross anchored with a 1:09 for a total time of 2:16 and an overall finish of 6th place. Next up was the fencing event. Ross continued her individual success and came away with 13 victories and 7 defeats. Davis stayed consistent throughout fencing ending up with 10 victories and 10 defeats. Their total score of 23 victories and 17 defeats gave them a 6th place finish in fencing and they maintained their overall place of 6th. Ross was able to bounce back from her elimination in the individual riding event and get the horse around the course. Ross and Davis scored a 248 after a couple knockdowns and time penalties and finished 7th place in the riding event. Based on the other rides, Ross and Davis moved up to 5th place before the start of the laser run. Davis led off and had amazing times for her two series of shooting; 10 seconds and 9 seconds. She moved Team USA up to 4th place with Argentina right behind them. Ross did her best but was not able to hold of a hard charging Argentina. Ross and Davis finished in 5th place overall. This was a great week for Team USA women. A lot of experience was gained for the younger athletes and the future is very exciting for USA Pentathlon.

                In the men’s relay, Millet and Ruddock started off the day with a 7th place finish in the swim. Ruddock led off in a :55.4 and Millet closed in a :59.9 for a total time of 1:55.3. Millet had a strong showing in fencing, finishing with 13 victories and 9 defeats. Ruddock was just behind him with a total of 10 victories and 12 defeats. They finished in 7th placed and fell back to 8th place in the overall standings. They drew a difficult horse but managed to get around with 2 knockdowns and a few time penalties for a total score of 246. Their 8th place finish in the ride was still good enough to move them up to 5th place in the overall standings. Millet started off the relay. He lost one position to the Dominican Republic but stayed right on his heels through his 2 rounds. Ruddock had solid shooting rounds and strong running but was unable to chase down the Dominican athlete and ended up crossing the line in 6th place.


            Team USA had a great Pan American Championships. A lot of experienced was gained as we head into the 2019 season. The start of that season happens in a couple of weeks with the first World Cup qualifier taking place in Colorado Springs. Go Team USA!!!