Gilman adds Pan-Am title to growing resume
Monday, May 9, 2022 - 01:25 By Vinay Siwach
ACAPULCO, Mexico (May 8) -- Over the last year, Thomas GILMAN (USA) has managed to check a few things off his bucket list. He has won an Olympic medal and a world title.
On Sunday, he checked off another item by winning his first Pan-Am title, helping the USA clean sweep the team titles in Acapulco, Mexico.
The USA won eight of the 10 gold medals at the tournament to finish first with 229 points in the team race. They were way clear of second-placer Canada which had 138 points. Puerto Rico finished third with 120 points.
Jordan BURROUGHS (USA) and J'den COX (USA) had won the 79kg and 92kg gold medals on Saturday.
Sunday began with Gilman living up to the reputation of being the favorite to win the gold. He outscored his opponents 34-2 in three bouts. His two wins were via fall while the final was settled with the score of 11-0 against Darian CRUZ (CUB).
Now an experienced wrestler on the US team, the 27-year-old stuck to the basics and managed to capture the gold, four years after he finished with a bronze medal at the same tournament.
"I knew I was ready to go," Gilman said about his final. "I wanted to move my feet quickly and get on top. [In the final], I stayed where I am good."
Using his strong underhooks and collar tie, Gilman produced a takedown masterclass throughout the tournament. Even in the final, he had four takedowns and a gut-wrench as he sailed through for a first-period finish against Cruz.
Gilman's game plan on the day was similar to what he did in the final and later explained that it is his go-to for all bouts.
"That's pretty much the game plan every time regardless [who the opponent is]," he said. "Being aware of the tricks I can do from there. Just being patient in my positions and nothing changes with the opponent and make him wrestle where I am good."
His growth since the silver medal at the 2017 World Championships has also resulted in maturity on the mat. After winning the World title in Oslo last year, Gilman had said that he is learning to win and be consistent.
"I'm starting to learn how to win as a competitor," Gilman had said in Oslo. "I think I'm a pretty decent wrestler. But I don't know if I know how to really win on a consistent basis yet."
One of the areas of his game in which Gilman has been continuously working is having more room to score via gut wrenches after completing a takedown.
"It's been a focus of mine getting a takedown in the middle of the mat, get it on top and work on my turns," he said. "Our points are either pushouts or takedowns on the edge so trying to focus on getting the guy in the middle of the mat so there is more room to work on top."
"The Cuba match was a good example. A couple of sticky situations but I did not really hesitate," he said referring to his semifinal against Alexei ALVAREZ BLANCO (CUB). "I wrestled through, let my body take over. So there are improvements, room for growth."
That will be put to use when Gilman wrestles for the spot on the USA's world team. He will appear for Final X next month against a yet-to-be-known opponent and try to win a best-of-three series to claim the spot.
In Belgrade, he has a chance to win back-to-back titles and while the participation of an RWF wrestler is still unlikely, Gilman has kept a close look on his other opponents as well. One of them is Olympic silver medalist Ravi KUMAR (IND) who, Gilman says, has a similar style of wrestling.
"There are a couple of guys on my mind but I am getting ready for everybody," he said. "Ravi KUMAR (IND) is a brawler like me. I'd like to wrestle him. I have never wrestled him. It will be fun for the fans because we are not holding back. We are not the most technical or tactical so it will potentially be a fistfight and may the best man win."
Another world champion who had a successful outing Sunday was Kyle DAKE (USA) as he defended his 74kg Pan-Am title.
The three-time world champion quickly got to business in Acapulco by beating Diego SANDOVAL ZARCO (MEX), 12-1 in the quarterfinals before taking out Franklin MAREN CASTILLO (CUB), 10-0 in the semifinals.
In a surprise call, he was put on the activity clock in the final against Franklin GOMEZ (PUR) but it did not bother him much as he went on to score quick points and close out the final 10-1.
"Nice to get back on the mat and I am glad to be part of the process," Dake said.
Like Gilman, he will be trying to make the USA team next month. Dake seemed satisfied with his performance in Acapulco but said that he can work on his attacks.
"[I have to] just keep scoring points and be more creative with my attacks," he said. "Like put a couple together, move forward and go get them."
Daton FIX (USA), red, won his first Pan-Am title. (Photo: UWW / Osvaldo Aguilar)
Two World Championships silver medalists from Oslo were the gold medalist for the USA in Acapulco as Daton FIX (USA) picked up the 61kg title while Kyle SNYDER (USA) won the 97kg gold.
At 61kg, Fix wrestled in a Nordic-system bracket and destroyed all of his opponents in the process of claiming the gold medal. This was Fix's first Pan-Am Championships gold to go with his Games gold from 2019.
A big name in folkstyle domestically, the USA wrestler expressed his happiness to wrestle freestyle again.
"It's good to wrestle freestyle again as it's my favorite style," Fix said.
Kyle SNYDER (USA) defended his 97kg Pan-Am title. (Photo: UWW / Osvaldo Aguilar)
Snyder was equally dominant at 97kg and defeated Arturo SILOT TORRES (CUB), 12-1 in the final. He outscored his opponents 33-1 and was satisfied with how he wrestled at the tournament.
"I wrestled the way I have been practicing and compete up to that standard," he said. "I feel I did a really good job. I am happy about."
The two-time Olympic medalist was aware of the lack of competition at the Pan-Ams but he said it was more about his own wrestling than the opponents.
"I am looking to wrestle on a certain day, that's what I am focused on," he said. "It's not much about the competition at an event like this. I want to wrestle the way I have been training and how I know I can compete. I look forward to wrestling Cuba. At Worlds, obviously, it's RWF, Iran, Azerbaijan."
To reclaim the world title he last won in 2017 in Paris after beating Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RWF) in the final, he will have to win the spot on the USA team before flying to Belgrade. Snyder said that there isn't much to change for the trials in the USA.
"I just want to keep working on what I've been working on," he said. "Stay focused and recover. I think I am on a pretty good track."
The remaining two gold medals for the USA came at 65kg and 86kg. Joseph McKENNA (USA) won the 65kg gold while Zahid VALENCIA (USA) won the 86kg.
McKenna wrestled Sebastian RIVERA (PUR) in the final and comfortably beat him 10-0. He began with a big four before getting three rolls to finish the bout.
More than the final, McKenna fashed a tougher challenge from Tokyo Olympian Agustin DESTRIBATS (ARG) in the semifinals. McKenna was comfortably leading 4-1 when Destribats hit a four but McKenna in the same motion to get two points. He hit a four as well to lead 10-5 at the break.
But that was all Destribats had as McKenna added three more points in the second period to win 13-5.
Zahid VALENCIA (USA) calimed the gold medal at 86kg. (Photo: UWW / Osvaldo Aguilar)
Valencia did not get a technical superiority win in the 86kg final but did enough to beat Lazaro HERNANDEZ LUIS (CUB), 4-1. He scored two non-action points in the first period while a takedown in the second period made it four.
Canada wins 2 gold
USA would have had a perfect day if not for Amarveer DHESI (CAN) and Emmanuel OLAPADE (CAN) as they won Pan-Am titles for their country.
Amarveer DHESI (CAN) pulled off a late exposure to win the 125kg gold. (Photo: UWW / Osvaldo Aguilar)
Dhesi, a former junior world champion, wrestled two-time World bronze medalist Nicholas GWIAZDOWSKI (USA) and came out on top 5-3 at 125kg. The result gave him his first Pan-Am title and the first for Canada in six years.
The two wrestlers exchanged activity points on either side of the break but Dhesi scored a takedown to lead 3-1. Gwiazdowski responded with his own with 46 seconds remaining to lead 3-3 on criteria.
But Dhesi rallied to get another two points via exposure with 11 seconds remaining on the clock to win the 125kg gold.
"I am pretty confident in that position," Dhesi said. "There was no way it was not two. But you never know. I wore him down, it worked in my favor. It was pretty nice."
The Pan-Am title is just the start of a busy calendar for Dhesi who will compete at the Canada Nationals in two weeks before heading to the Ranking Series event in Rome, Italy. He also plans to compete at the Commonwealth Games in August before heading to the Worlds.
In a weight class full of studs, Dhesi hopes he can make his mark soon.
"I wrestled Taha [AKGUL] at the Olympics, the first bout," he said. "I looked up to these athletes when I was young. I feel like I am in the middle of the pack somewhere. I feel that I want to break through and get to the higher pack. Hopefully get some medals at the World Championships."
"For that, I need to be confident myself and I always felt that I have the ability to wrestle well. Sometimes it doesn't show on the mat so I am trying to get better at producing that wrestling on the mat."
Emmanuel OLAPADE (CAN), blue, was crowned the Pan-Am champ at 70kg. (Photo: UWW / Osvaldo Aguilar)
At 70kg, Zain RETHERFORD (USA) was the favorite to win the gold but had to pull out moments before his first bout due to illness.
That gave others in the bracket to claim their first Pan-Am title and Olapade was not wasting it giving Canada the first gold of the tournament after two silver-medal finishes Saturday.
Wrestling a Nordic bracket, he defeated Vinicius DA SILVA JOAQUIM (BRA) via fall in Round 1. He was given a walkover for the bout against Rutherford to qualify for the semifinals.
Jhon CHUNGA CARRENO (PER) was all over the place as Olapade wasted no time in winning the semifinal 12-1 to set up a gold-medal bout against Da Silva Joaquim.
While he could not be as dominant as the Round 1 win, Olapade was still too much for the Brazil wrestler.
GOLD: Thomas GILMAN (USA) df. Darian CRUZ (PUR), 11-0
BRONZE: Alexei ALVAREZ BLANCO (CUB) df. Enrique HERRERA HUACRE (PER), 10-0
BRONZE: Oscar TIGREROS URBANO (COL) df. Darthe CAPELLAN (CAN), 4-3
GOLD: Daton FIX (USA)
SILVER: Joseph SILVA (PUR)
BRONZE: Pedro FLORES SALAZAR (MEX)
GOLD: Joseph MC KENNA (USA) df. Sebastian RIVERA (PUR), 10-0
BRONZE: Agustin DESTRIBATS (ARG) df. Andre QUISPE FAJARDO (CHI), 10-0
BRONZE: Albaro RUDECINDO CAMACHO (DOM) df. Jacob ALEXANDER TORRES (CAN), 10-0
GOLD: Emmanuel OLAPADE (CAN) df. Vinicius DA SILVA JOAQUIM (BRA), 4-1
BRONZE: Alexis OLVERA MAGALLANES (MEX) df. Jhon CHUNGA CARRENO (PER), 10-0
GOLD: Kyle DAKE (USA) df. Franklin GOMEZ (PUR), 10-1
BRONZE: Cesar BORDEAUX REGO ALVAN (BRA) df. Leon PERALTA LANAS (CHI), 10-0
BRONZE: Franklin MAREN CASTILLO (CUB) df Diego SANDOVAL ZARCO (MEX), 8-1
GOLD: Zahid VALENCIA (USA) df. Lazaro HERNANDEZ LUIS (CUB), 4-1
BRONZE: Carlos IZQUIERDO MENDEZ (COL) df. Christian ANGUIANO FLORES (MEX), 4-1
BRONZE: Ethan RAMOS (PUR) df. Jorge LLANO (ARG), 11-0
GOLD: Kyle SNYDER (USA) df. Arturo SILOT TORRES (CUB), 12-1
BRONZE: Maxwell LACEY GARITA (CRC) df. Esdras LOPEZ PEREZ (MEX), via fall
BRONZE: Luis PEREZ SOSA (DOM) df. Nishanpreet Singh RANDHAWA (CAN), 10-0
GOLD: Amarveer DHESI (CAN) df. Nicholas GWIAZDOWSKI (USA), 5-3
BRONZE: Catriel MURIEL (ARG) df. Gabriel DE SOUSA SILVA (BRA), via fall
BRONZE: Jose DIAZ ROBERTTI (VEN) df. Charles MERRILL (PUR), 2-1