Photo: Pat Smith celebrating after winning a Pan Am Games title. Photo by Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com.
LIMA, Peru – Pat Smith led Team USA on its first day of Greco-Roman competition, winning a gold medal at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.
“It was the first time I ever got to carry the flag around the mat, so that was pretty sweet. I didn’t think it was going to be that cool,” Smith said. “There were a couple of guys out there chanting ‘USA’, so there’s no better place to represent.”
For gold, Smith had to go through returning Pan American Games champion Wuilexis Rivas Espinoza of Venezuela in the 77 kg finals.
Rivas struck first, scoring two points on an arm throw in the opening three minutes for a 2-0 lead at the break.
In the final frame, Smith got on the board with an arm drag to a takedown to take the lead on criteria. Moments later, the American separated himself a little more with a step out and held on for a 3-2 win.
“We came out here to get in some good matches and get our hands on everyone that will possibly be at the Olympic Qualifier,” Smith said. “You’ve got to get that feel, and you’ve got to send a message every time you wrestle. That was the goal, and it ended up working out really well today,” Smith said.
It was Smith’s first trip to the Pan Am Games, but he has won three gold medals at the Pan American Championships, which is held every year.
The Red, White and Blue also secured one silver and two bronzes on Wednesday evening.
Also making the finals was 2016 Junior World bronze medalist and three-time Senior World Team member G’Angelo Hancock at 97 kg.
He went head-to-head with Gabriel Rosillo Kindelan of Cuba in a rematch of the 2019 Pan Am Championships finals. Rosillo won the matchup in April with a 10-2 technical fall.
This time, Hancock led 2-0 at the break with a pair of step outs, but Rosillo responded with a four-point throw near the edge early in the second period and tacked on two step outs. The Cuban eventually walked away with a 7-2 win, giving Hancock a silver medal at his first Pan American Games.
Army WCAP wrestlers Ildar Hafizov and Ellis Coleman claimed bronze medals for the United States.
Opening the night for the USA was Hafizov, wrestling for bronze at 60 kg.
Hafizov faced 2015 Junior Pan American champion Emilio Perez Alonzo from Mexico. The American got it rolling about halfway through the period when Perez was hit for passivity and put down in par terre. There, Hafizov rattled off three gut wrenches for a 7-0 lead, which he carried into the break.
Perez was able to score a takedown in the second period, but it was not enough. Hafizov held on for a 7-2 win and a Pan Am Games bronze medal in his Pan American debut.
Army WCAP teammate Coleman followed up with a bronze-winning performance of his own at 67 kg.
Battling 2017 Senior Pan Am silver medalist Luis De Leon of Dominican Republic, Coleman trailed 1-0 at the break on a passivity call.
In the second period, De Leon attacked but Coleman caught him and put the Dominican straight to his back for four points and the eventual fall.
A three-time Pan Am Championships medalist, this marks Coleman’s first Pan Am Games medal.
At 87 kg, Joe Rau, a two-time Senior World Team member, went 1-2 on the day to finish fifth at his first Pan American Games.
All five athletes will represent the United States at the 2019 Senior World Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, in September.
Tomorrow, Adam Coon will wrap up Greco-Roman action at 130 kg and Whitney Conder (50 kg), Sarah Hildebrandt (53 kg) and Jenna Burkert (57 kg) will open women’s freestyle action. Wrestling begins at 10 a.m. CT live on ESPN3.
2019 PAN AMERICAN GAMES
at Lima, Peru, Aug. 7-11
GOLD - Andres MONTAÑO ARROYO (ECU) df. Dicther TORO CASTAÑEDA (COL), 10-1
BRONZE - Luis ORTA SÁNCHEZ (CUB) df. Anthony PALENCIA PUENTES (VEN), 8-0
BRONZE - Ildar HAFIZOV (USA) df. Emilio PEREZ ALONZO (MEX), 7-2
GOLD - Ismael BORRERO MOLINA (CUB) df. Shalom VILLEGAS REQUENA (VEN), 12-0
BRONZE - Manuel LÓPEZ SALCEDO (MEX) df. Nilton SOTO GARCIA (PER), 3-1
BRONZE - Ellis COLEMAN (USA) df. Luis DE LEÓN (DOM), fall
GOLD - Patrick SMITH (USA) df. Wuilexis RIVAS ESPINOZA (VEN), 3-2
BRONZE - Jair CUERO MUÑOZ (COL) dec. Emmanuel BENITEZ CASTRO (MEX), 5-1
BRONZE - Yosvanys PEÑA FLORES (CUB) df. Angelo MARQUES MOREIRA (BRA), 8-0
GOLD - Luis AVENDAÑO ROJAS (VEN) df. Alfonso LEYVA YEPEZ (MEX), 5-3
BRONZE - Daniel GREGORICH HECHAVARRÍA (CUB) df. Josef RAU (USA), 8-2
BRONZE - Alvis ALMENDRA (PAN) df. Carlos MUÑOZ JARAMILLO (COL), 2-1
GOLD - Gabriel ROSILLO KINDELÁN (CUB) df. G’Angelo HANCOCK (USA), 7-2
BRONZE - Kevin MEJIA CASTILLO (HON) df. Thomas BARREIRO (CAN), 8-0
BRONZE - Luillys PEREZ MORA (VEN) df. José ARIAS PAREDES (DOM), 9-0
U.S. Greco-Roman results
60 kg: Ildar Hafizov (Colorado Springs, Colo./Army WCAP) – BRONZE
LOSS Ditcher Toro Castenada (Colombia), 8-3
WIN Emilio Perez Alonzo (Mexico), 7-2
67 kg: Ellis Coleman (Colorado Springs, Colo./Army WCAP) – BRONZE
WIN Joilson De Brito Ramos Junior (Brazil), fall 4:52
LOSS Ismael Borrero Molina (Cuba), 8-0
WIN Luis De Leon (Dominican Republic), fall
77 kg: Pat Smith (Minneapolis, Minn./Minnesota Storm) – GOLD
WIN Jair Cuero Munoz (Colombia), 4-1
WIN Emmaunel Benitez Castro (Mexico), 5-1
WIN Wuilexis Rivas Espinoza (Venezuela), 3-2
87 kg: Joe Rau (Chicago, Ill./Titan Mercury WC/Chicago RTC) – FIFTH
WIN Ricardo Cardenas Esquen (Peru), 5-3
LOSS Luis Avendano Rojas (Venezuela), 8-0
LOSS Daniel Gregorich Hechavarria (Cuba), 8-2
97 kg: G’Angelo Hancock (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) – SILVER
WIN Thomas Barreiro (Canada), 9-0
WIN Kevin Mejia (Honduras), 10-0
LOSS Gabriel Rosillo Kindelan (Cuba), 7-2