USA Wrestling Smith repeats as Gre...

Smith repeats as Greco champion, Speiller, Haight also win golds at Pan American Championships

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Feb. 28, 2016, 10:47 p.m. (ET)

Patrick Smith of the USA ties up Jair Cuero of Colombia, on the way to a gold medal at 71 kg at the Pan American Championships. Photo by Stuart Spears

FRISCO, Texas – Three U.S. Greco-Roman stars won gold medals and the USA won the team title at the Pan American Championships on Sunday night at the Dr. Pepper Arena. Team USA had seven total medals, including a silver and three bronze medals

Winning the Pan American Championships for the second year in a row was Patrick Smith (Minneapolis, Minn./Minnesota Storm), who defeated Jair Cuero Munoz of Colombia, 2-2 in the 71 kg/156 lbs. finals. Cuero led 2-0 on a second period gut wrench, but Smith blocked a Cuero throw for a two-point takedown and held on to the win by scoring the last point. Cuero is a previous two-time Pan American bronze medalist.

“It was a little closer than I wanted it to be but I kept pushing the pace and stayed composed, stuck to my stuff and kept my hips in. I went after him constantly and it ended up working out. It was a little grittier than I wanted it to be but that’s alright. Sometimes you got to do that. I think the big takeaway today was to stay after my stuff no matter what the score is and keep trying to score points constantly because things are going to happen. This is a good practice tournament for the Olympic Trials. You don’t know what’s going to happen there,” said Smith.

Taking the 75 kg/165 lbs. gold was 2016 U.S. Open champion Geordan Speiller, Oviedo, Fla. (Florida Jets), who put away Yurisandi Hernandez Rios of Puerto Rico in the finals with a 10-0 technical fall. Speiller was up 6-0 and closed out the win with a big four-point body lock. Speiller was dominant in all of his wins, also getting a pin and a technical fall in the preliminaries.

“Not really [what I was expecting]. I wish he would have opened up more. It was really tough to get to his body. It wasn’t the match I wanted but you don’t get everything you want. There’s a lot of things I need to work on, I’m never satisfied but it’s been a good practice for the Olympic Tials. I’m really excited for it. I love it. All or nothing. Win or lose, the journey is worthwhile,” said Speiller

Haight won his first Pan Am Championships gold in a close battle with three-time Pan American Championships bronze medalist Maximiliano Prudenzano of Argentina. Haight got on top after a passivity call against Prudenzano and scored a gut wrench for two points. When Prudenzano got on top of Haight, he was unable to turn Haight, who had excellent defense and went on to win, 2-0.

“I was happy with my par terre. I was able to defend and I got the turn. That’s how I won the match. He did a good job wrestling on the feet with me. He turned it into a brawl match, which I didn’t want to do. I tried to control the ties and get a lot of attacks to score points, and he was able to put a lot of pressure and make it into a brawl. Luckily, I got the points on top. It feels great winning the Pan Ams. I’ve never won it before and I’ve been to the tournament a couple of times,” said Haight.

Claiming a silver medal was Alejandro Sancho (Miami, Fla./NYAC/NMU), who was beaten by Miguel Martinez Palacio of Cuba by technical fall, 0-8 at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. Martinez had a big throw in the first period and finished it off by turning Sancho. It was the third straight year that Martinez has won the Pan American Championships.

Winning bronze medals for the USA were Sam Jones (Folsom, La./NYAC/NMU) at 59 kg/130 lbs., Patrick Martinez, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army WCAP) at 85 kg/187 lbs. and Toby Erickson, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC) at 130 kg/286 lbs.

Jones won by forfeit over Andry Davila Baron of Venezuela in the bronze-medal round.

Martinez, a 2015 U.S. World Team member, scored a second period takedown, the only points in a 2-0 win over Ronisson Brandao Santiago of Brazil.

Erickson also shut out his bronze-medal opponent, scoring a takedown and a pushout to defeat Erwin Caraballo Cabrera of Venezuela, 3-0.

Cuba won the other five individual gold medals, but did not win any other medals. The USA had 66 team points, ahead of Cuba with 56 points, with Venezuela in third with 45 points.

“The guys came out and fought really hard today. They put on a show, they scored points, and they got in positions. A lot of these guys aren’t afraid to go out there and attack. Rounds got tougher and we lost a couple but we came back and we fought for medals. I’m very pleased with the performance today for sure,” said National Greco-Roman Coach Matt Lindland.

The United States swept the three team titles for the weekend, as the women’s freestyle team won the title on Friday night and the men’s freestyle team took top honors on Saturday night.

International wrestling returns to Frisco when the Pan American Olympic Games Qualifier will be held at the Dr. Pepper Arena, March 4-6. This event serves as a major qualifier for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In total, 36 spots in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro are up for grabs.

At Frisco, Texas, February 28

Greco-Roman results

59 kg/130 lbs.
Gold medal – Javier Dumeingo Gonzalez (Cuba)
Silver - Ali Soto Macias (Mexico)
Bronze – Sam Jones (USA)
Bronze medal – Jancel Pimentel Gonzales (Dominican Republic)
5th - Andry Davila Baron (Venezuela)
5th - Andres Taborda Torres (Colombia)
Gold – Dumiengo dec. Soto, 13-6
Bronze – Jones by forfeit over Davila
Bronze – Pimentel dec. Taborda, 7-1

66 kg/145.5 lbs.
Gold medal – Miguel Martinez Palacio (Cuba)
Silver - Alejandro Sancho (USA)
Bronze medal – Raiber Rodriguez Orozco (Venezuela)
Bronze medal – Manuel Lopez Salcero (Mexico)
5th - Jose Magallanes Durand (Peru)
5th - Andres Montano Arroyo (Ecuador)
Gold – Martinez tech. fall Sancho, 8-0
Bronze – Rodriguez tech. fall Magallanes, 8-0
Bronze – Lopez dec. Montano, 5-4

71 kg/156 lbs.
Gold medal – Patrick Smith (USA)
Silver - Jair Cuero Munoz (Colombia)
Bronze medal –Jose Sanchez Betancourt (Ecuador)
Bronze medal – Jefrin Mejia Sambula (Honduras)
5th - Joilson De Brito Ramos (Brazil)
5th - Mourio Cortez (Peru)
Gold – Smith dec. Cuero, 2-2
Bronze – Betancourt tech. fall Cortez, 8-0
Bronze – Mejia tech. fall De Brito, 8-0

75 kg/165 lbs.
Gold medal – Geordan Speiller (USA)
Silver medal- Luis Centeno Rodriguez (Puerto Rico)
Bronze medal – Alvis Almendra Jimenez (Panama)
Bronze medal –. Luis Avendano Rojas (Venezuela)
5th - Yurisandh Hernandez (Cuba)
5th - Juan Angel Escobar (Mexico)
Gold – Speiller tech. fall Centeno, 10-0
Bronze – Alemendra forfeit over Hernandez
Bronze – Avendano dec. Escobar, 3-2

80 kg/174 lbs.
Gold medal – Cheney Haight (USA)
Silver medal - Maximiliano Prudenzano (Argentina)
Bronze medal – Enrique Cuero Ortiz (Ecuador)
Bronze medal – Carlos Munoz Jaramillo (Colombia)
5th - Claudio Gamboa Zuniga (Chile)
5th - Renzo Garcia Mendoza (Peru)
Gold – Haight dec. Prudenzano, 2-0
Bronze – Ortiz by forfeit over Gamboa
Bronze – Munoz dec. Garcia, 4-0

85 kg/187 lbs.
Gold medal – Alan Vera Garcia (Cuba)
Silver medal - Alfonso Leyva Yepez (Mexico)
Bronze medal – Yorgen Cova (Venezuela)
Bronze medal – Patrick Martinez (USA)
5th - Alexander Brown Theriault (Canada)
5th - Ronisson Brandao Santiago (Brazil)
Gold – Vera dec. Leyva, 6-2
Bronze –Cova dec. Theriault, 5-4
Bronze – Martinez dec. Santiago, 2-0

98 kg/215 lbs.
Gold medal –Yasmany Lugo Cabrera (Cuba)
Silver medal - Luillys Perez Mora (Venezuela)
Bronze medal – Oscar Loango Solis (Colombia)
Bronze medal – Kevin Mejia Castillo (Honduras)
5th - Alexander Thoms (Canada)
5th - Carlos Garcia Escuti (Chile)
Gold – Lugo tech. fall Perez, 8-0
Bronze – Mejia by forfeit over Garcia
Bronze - Loango dec. Thoms, 8-1

130 kg/286 lbs.
Gold medal – Oscar Pino Hinds (Cuba)
Silver medal - Eduard Soghomonyan (Brazil)
Bronze medal – Luciano Del Rio (Argentina)
Bronze medal – Toby Erickson (USA)
5th - Luis Roman Barrios (Mexico)
5th - Erwin Caraballo Cabrera (Venezuela)
Gold – Pino pin Soghomonyan, 5:59
Bronze – Del Rio dec. Barrios, 8-4
Bronze – Erickson dec. Caraballo, 3-0

U.S. Greco-Roman performances

59 kg/130 lbs. – Sam Jones, Folsom, La. (NYAC/NMU), bronze medal
WIN Steven Takahashi (Canada), tech. fall 9-0
LOSS Ali Soto Macias (Mexico), 8-13
WIN Andry Davila Baron (Venezuela), forfeit

66 kg/145.5 lbs. – Alejandro Sancho, Miami, Fla. (NYAC/NMU), silver medal
WIN Jose Magallanes Durand (Peru), tech fall 8-0
WIN Raiber Jose Rodriguez Orozco (Venezuela), tech. fall 12-4
LOSS Miguel Martinez Palacio (Cuba), tech. fall 0-8

71 kg/156 lbs. - Patrick Smith, Minneapolis, Minn. (Minnesota Storm), gold medal
WIN Jose Sanchez Betancourt (Ecuador), pin 1:46
WIN Mourio Molinaa Cortez (Peru), tech. fall 8-0
WIN Jair Alexis Cuero Munoz (Colombia), 2-2

75 kg/165 lbs. - Geordan Speiller, Oviedo, Fla. (Florida Jets), gold medal
WIN Juan Angel Escobar (Mexico), 2:30
WIN Luis Eduardo Avendano Rojas (Venezuela), tech. fall 12-2
WIN Yurisandi Hernandez Rios (Puerto Rico), tech. fall 10-0

80 kg/174 lbs. - Cheney Haight, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC), gold medal
WIN Enrique Cuero Ortiz (Ecuador), tech. fall 8-0
WIN Claudio Andres Gamboa Zuniga (Chile), tech. fall 8-0
WIN Maximiliano Prudenzano (Argentina), 2-0

85 kg/187 lbs. - Patrick Martinez, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army WCAP), bronze medal
LOSS Alfonso Antonio Leyva Yepez (Mexico), 2-4
WIN Ronisson Brandao Santiago (Brazil), 2-0

98 kg/215 lbs. - Jacob Kasper, Mansfield, Ohio (Roughhouse)
LOSS Oscar Loango Solis (Colombia), tech fall 0-10

130 kg/286 lbs. - Toby Erickson, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC), bronze medal
WIN Josue Encarnacion Ovanido (Dominican Republic), tech. fall 10-0
LOSS Eduard Soghomonyan (Brazil), 2-4
WIN Erwin Caraballo Cabrera (Venezuela), 3-0

Team Standings
1. United States, 66
2. Cuba, 56
3. Venezuela, 45

Golden Boot Outstanding Wrestler Award - Miguel Martinez Palacio (Cuba), 66 kg/145.5 lbs.