Olympic Champions Lopez, Burroughs Highlight Pan-Am Championships
Monday, July 14, 2014 - 13:12 By Jason Bryant
MEXICO CITY – Two-time Olympic champion Mijain LOPEZ (CUB) is expected this week to make his third appearance of the 2014 wrestling season when he takes the mats at the Pan-American Championships in Mexico City.
Lopez, who wrestles at 130kg, will lead a strong Cuban contingent in Greco-Roman. Though the island nation often leads the medal count in Greco-Roman, they should expect healthy challenges in freestyle from both the United States and an ever-strengthening Canadian side.
The Americans will be showcasing two-time world champion and 2012 Olympic champion Jordan BURROUGHS at 74kg. The world No.1 will be competing in his first Pan-American Championships.
In 2013, Cuba claimed five of the seven golds in Greco-Roman and four more in men’s freestyle. The Cubans also grabbed two medals in women’s freestyle.
This year’s gold-medal finishes will be assured a spot at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.
Ismael BORRERO MOLINA (CUB) won the 2013 Pan Am Championships up at 60kg. With the weight changes FILA introduced after last year’s World Championships, it’s enabled a bit of a shift for some athletes and Borrero Molina is one of those athletes. He finished 11th at the World Championships last season. Borrero Molina also won the event at 60kg in 2012. His top challenger will be Spenser MANGO (USA). Mango’s represented the U.S. on the last seven World and Olympic teams and was fifth in the World in 2013. Surprisingly, this will only be Mango’s second Pan Am appearance – he was bronze in 2009 at 60kg.
Jairo Luis MEDINA GARCIA (VEN) was a bronze medalist in last year’s event at 55kg and he’ll compete at 59kg. He finished 26th at last year’s World Championships. Andres MONTANO ARROYO (ECU) was the gold medalist at the South American Games in March and is coming off a solid silver-medal performance at the Grand Prix of Spain two weeks ago. Arroyo was also a silver medalist at the Granma Cup in Cuba back in February. Juan Carlos LOPEZ ASPRILLA (COL) and Jose Luis MAGALLANES DURAN (PER) both medaled at the South American Games. Diego ROMANELLI (BRA) was a silver medalist at 60kg in 2013 at the Pan Am Championships.
Miguel MARTINEZ (CUB) won the gold medal at the 2013 Granma Cup at the weight and he’ll be another strong Cuban competitor. Luis LIENDO (VEN) has had a strong career finishing fifth at the 2011 World Championships and gold at the South American Games in 2013.
Bryce SADDORIS (USA) is making his first appearance at the Pan Am Championships. The U.S. World Team Trials runner-up finished as a silver medalist in January’s Dave Schultz Memorial International. Keep an eye on Jair CUREO MUNOZ (COL). He was a silver medalist at the South American Games and was a 2013 Pan Am Junior gold medalist last year. Francisco ENCARNACION (DOM) has represented the Dominican Republic on three senior-level World Championship teams and has medaled five times at the Pan American level. It’ll be a new weight class for Encarnacion, who’s spent most of his career below 60kg.
At the non-Olympic weight of 71kg, the U.S. will enter 2012 Olympian and 2011 Junior World bronze medalist Ellis COLEMAN (USA). Coleman was a late replacement at 66kg at the 2013 World Championships for injured Justin Lester. Some nations are opting not to compete at the non-Olympic weights, so the preliminary entry list is pretty thin prior to competition. Of those who are pre-registered for the weight class are Joaquin MARTINEZ (VEN) and David CHOC HUOC (GUA). Neither have significant international experience.
Andy BISEK (USA) has been on a roll in 2014. Since competing at the 2013 World Championships in Budapest, Bisek has won four international gold medals, taking top honors at the Granma Cup in Cuba, two U.S. competitions (Dave Schultz and NYAC) and the Haavisto Cup in Finland. Bisek’s gold at Granma Cup saw him outplace Julio BASTIDA MENDOZA (CUB). Bastida Mendoza won gold at the Central America & Caribbean Games earlier this year. Angelo MARQUES MORIERA (BRA) was fifth at the 2013 World Military Championships and took a bronze medal at the South American Championships in 2013. Alvaro HUBIEROA ROBLES (DOM) was a bronze medalist at 66kg in 2013 and also gook a bronze at the Granma Cup.
Much like 71kg, there aren’t too many names listed in the event’s preliminary entry list. Of the three listed, there’s no gold-medal career finishes at senior-level events. Jon ANDERSON (USA) was a bronze medalist at the Dave Schultz Memorial and the Haparanda Cup this year, while Daniel RERREIRA (BRA) has a bronze medal finish at the 2013 Copa Brazil, a weight won by Roman Vlasov of Russia that year. Juan ALVAREZ (VEN) is also a preliminary entry.
Pablo SHOREY HERNANDEZ (CUB) is one of the best wrestlers in the World. While currently unranked due to only having one competition since competing at the 2012 Olympc Games. Shorey Hernandez was a 2010 World silver medalist and also has a 2009 bronze medal to go along with it. The last time he competed in the Pan Am Championships, he finished with a silver, but he has three other Pan Am golds in his career. His first time seeing competitive action since London was in February at the Granma Cup, where he won gold. Alexander BRAZON BRAVO (VEN) was the silver medalist at the 2013 Pan Am Championships, while Jake FISHER (USA) was a bronze medalist, but that was down at 74kg. Elivs D’OBRE (DOM) was a bronze medalist at the Granma Cup at 80kg.
Since 2012, Yasmany LUGO CABRERA (CUB) has claimed five international gold medals. He’s currently ranked No.15 in the world and should be a favorite to defend his Pan Am gold from a year ago, this time at a readjusted 98kg weight class.
Oscar LOANGO SOLIS (COL) has two bronze medals this year, earning them at the South American Games in March and the Central American & Caribbean Games a month later. Jose ARIAS PAREDES (DOM) was the silver medalist at the Granma Cup behind Lugo Cabrera and could be a solid candidate to challenge for a medal.
Edwin CARABALLO CABRERA (VEN) was an Olympian in 2012 and has medaled in eight Pan Am Games or Championships since 2006. He’s represented Venezuela at three World Championships. Caylor WILLIAMS (USA) was a bronze medalist at last year’s event.
Fans will also get to see the legendary Mijain LOPEZ (CUB) step to the mats at 130kg. Lopez has been one of the world’s most dominant Greco-Roman wrestlers in the last decade. Lopez’s resume includes two Olympic gold medals, four World championships and two world silver medals. He’s been competing actively for Cuba at the senior level since 2001 and broke through with his first World medal in 2005.
Only once in his career has he failed to claim gold at a Pan American Games or Championships, and that came way back in 2003 when American Dremiel Byers prevented the then up-and-coming Cuban from Gold. He’s won nine straight gold in Pan Am tournaments he’s entered.
With five ranked wrestlers in the world and a returning Pan Am champion in the mix, 48kg could be the most competitive weight class of the event. Leading the way is past world champion and No.6 Jessica MACDONALD (CAN). She’s won three world medals to go along with her gold at the 2012 world title. MacDonald was the champion at 51kg at the Pan Am Championships last year.
World No.7 Victoria ANTHONY (USA) was fifth at the 2013 World Championships up at 51kg and is coming off a silver medal at the Grand Prix of Spain. Carolina CASTILLO HIDALGO (COL) is ranked No.17 in the world and was a silver medalist at the Canada Cup, finishing behind MacDonald. Veteran Mayelis CARIPA CASTILLO (VEN) was a world silver medalist at the 2013 World Championships and comes in ranked No.18 in the world.
Returning champion Thalia MALLQUI PECHE (PER) comes in unranked.
Brittanee LAVERDURE (CAN), Haley AUGELLO (USA) and Angelica VILLEGAS (VEN) lead 53kg. Laverdure is fresh off a gold medal performance at the Canada Cup and won a bronze medal at the Grand Prix of Germany in Dormagen. Augello has been trying to settle in at the senior level in the United States after winning a Cadet world championship back in 2011. She was seventh at least year’s Pan Ams at 51kg.
While Argentina didn’t submit a preliminary entry list, Patricia BERMUDEZ (ARG) could be in the mix here or at 48kg. Angelica VILLEGAS (VEN) or teammate Aguis RIVAS (VEN) could be Venezuela’s entry. Rivas was a silver medalist last year. Both are listed as potential competitors.
Amber Maschke (CAN) will be a threat considering the depth of the Canadian women’s system. She was a bronze medalist at the Canada Cup behind two other Canadians. The weight appears to be wide open with Giullia OLIVERIA (BRA), Ariany ESTUPINAN (VEN) and Cady CHESSIN (USA) also entered.
The world No. 2 at 60kg Michelle FAZZARI (CAN) recently won the City of Sassari Tournament in Italy. She hasn’t competed in a Pan American Championships at the senior level since 2006, when she won a bronze medal. Joice SOUZA DA SILVA (BRA) will enter the weight ranked No.13 in the world. She’s earned bronze medals at two international tournaments in 2014 and was a silver medalist at the 2013 Pan Am Championships. She’s competed in seven World Championships for Brazil.
World No.20 Sandra ROA VELANDIA (COL) is fresh off a gold at the Canada Cup where she finished ahead of Canadians Jazmyne Barker and Justine Bouchard, both of whom are competing at the Pan Ams in different weights. Returning champion Yaquelin ESTORNELL (CUB) is ranked No.20 in the world at 60kg.
Jazmyne BARKER (CAN) comes in ranked No.16 in the world at 58kg, but will compete up at 60kg for the Pan Am Championships. Barker has medaled in her last three international events – taking bronze at the Canada Cup earlier this month, a gold at the Austrian Ladies Open and another bronze at the Grand Prix of Germany.
Mirna HENRIQUEZ (VEN) won the Pan Am Championships in 2005 and has represented Venezuela at World Championship events in 2008, 2009 and 2013.
Two-time Olympic bronze medalist Jackeline RENTERIA CASTILLO (COL) has won the Pan Am Games or Championships four different times, but only came up with a bronze in 2013, finishing behind Justine BOUCHARD (CAN) and Katerina VIDIAUX LOPEZ (CUB). Bouchard, ranked No.16 in the world is in the field again, as is No.19 Vidiaux Lopez.
Bouchard is a two-time World bronze medalist and one of the most experienced women currently competing on the Canadian squad. Cuba, with its fledgling women’s program, is seeing success out of athletes like Vidiaux Lopez, who won the Pan American Games in 2011, but is still searching for her first Pan Am Championship after finishing with silver medals on three different occasions.
Liedy IZQUIERDO MENDEZ (CUB) is the favorite at 69kg. She finished with a silver medal last year, losing to eventual World silver medalist Stacie Anaka of Canada. With Justina DI STASIO (CAN) as the entrant from Canada, Izquierdo will still have her work cut out for her if she hopes to move up the podium. Di Stasio is coming off a bronze medal performance at the Grand Prix of Germany and is ranked No.17 in the world. Julia SALATA (USA) is continuing her busy month in Mexico after taking bronze at the World University Championships last week in Hungary. Salata also finished with a bronze medal in last year’s Pan Am Championships.
The top two women in the world are from Pan American countries, but neither will be competing in this year’s event at 75kg. We’ll still see two ranked wrestlers –No.11 Aline SILVA FERREIRA (BRA) and No. 16 Lisset HECHEVARRIA MEDINA (CUB). Leah CALLAHAN (CAN) represented her country at the 2012 Olympic Games and has plenty of experience. She won the Pan Am Championships in 2011, defeating Ferreira in the process. Hechevarria Medina is the returning champion and has medaled four times in Pan American events.
While Cuba and the United States typically control the lowest weight class, one name to watch at 57kg is Juan RAMIREZ BELTRE (DOM). Last year, he finished with a silver medal and was the Pan Am Games champion in 2011. Zach SANDERS (USA) is a past World University silver medalist, while Alfredo CISNEROS (CUB) is coming off a strong gold-medal performance at the Granma Cup. Pedro MEJIAS RODRIGUEZ (VEN) was a bronze medalist last year and was a silver medalist at the Central American & Caribbean Games back in April. The South American nation of Suriname is also entering three wrestlers in freestyle. Mohamed ABDO EL RAHIEM (SUR) will compete at 57kg. Steven TAKAHASHI (CAN) has medaled at the Pan Am Games and Championships in the past.
Andrew HOCHSTRASSER (USA) is coming back from an injury suffered during the U.S. Open in April. Juliano CARVALHO (BRA) finished third at the Copa Brazil. He and Anthony MONTERO CHIRINOS (VEN) are the only two other entries currently listed.
Alejandro VALDES TOBIER (CUB) is a returning champion, winning in 2013 at 60kg. Moving up a weight, the two-time Pan American champion will be challenged by Frank MOLINARO (USA), who won gold this season at the Dave Schultz Memorial and the NYAC International. After those two, look for Hernan GUZMAN IPUZ (COL) to give a strong effort. He recently won the South American Games and was a Pan American junior champion last year while also taking a bronze at the senior Pan Ams. Jeffry AVILA (DOM) was also a bronze medalist last year. Puerto Rico had not submitted an entry list, so it’s unclear if Franklin GOMEZ (PUR) will enter the event.
Early entries consist of Hunter STIEBER (USA), Lewis MARTINEZ (VEN), Tasso OLIVEIRA AVLES DA ROCHA (BRA) and Sam SEPEHIRPOUR (CAN).
Two-time world champion and 2012 Olympic champion Jordan BURROUGHS (USA) is ranked No.1 in the world and will look for his first Pan American Championship gold. Burroughs won the Pan Am Games in 2011 in the months following his first world title. Expect Burroughs to get some competition from Livan LOPEZ AZCUY (CUB) at 74kg. Lopez Azcuy is moving up from 66kg where he was a 2013 World silver medalist and is also an Olympic bronze medalist.
Edison HURTADO (COL) was a bronze medalist at last year’s event and finished as a silver medalist at the South American Games back in March. The champion at that event was Yoan BLANCO REINOSO (ECU), who could be in the mix. Ecuador had not submitted its entry list as of press time.
Two-time world medalist and 2013 silver medalist Reineris SALAS PEREZ (CUB) comes in ranked No.9 in the world and looks for his third senior-level Pan Am gold. An amazing counter wrestler, Salas Perez is coming off a first-place finish at the Granma Cup in February. He’ll be challenged by Clayton FOSTER (USA), who is ranked No.16.
Riley OTTO (CAN) was a bronze medalist last year in the Pan Am Championships up at 96kg and Pedro CEBALLOS FUENTES (VEN) is a strong medal threat after winning the South American Games in Chile back in March.
Javier CORTINA (CUB) should be the favorite. He won at 96kg last year and also picked up a title at the Granma Cup ealier this year. While Argentina, as mentioned earlier, didn’t submit a roster, Yuri MAIER (ARG) was the silver medalist a year ago and has been active internationally. He was a silver medalist at the South American Games, falling to Jorlys MOSQUERA (COL) in the gold-medal final. You could also see Jesse RUIZ (MEX) in the mix. He recently dropped from heavyweight to compete at 97kg and finished with a silver at the Central American & Caribbean Games.
There could be a rematch of last year’s Pan Am gold-medal final with returning champion Zach REY (USA) and runner-up Korey JARVIS (CAN) both back this year. Rey finished with a bronze medal at the Medved Prizes back in March and won the Granma Cup in Cuba in February. Luis VIVENES URBANESA (VEN) was a bronze medalist last year and is coming off a gold-medal performance at the South American Games.
Tuesday, July 15
10:00-15:00 – Qualifying and Repechage in Greco-Roman, All Weights.
17:30-18:00 – Opening Ceremonies
18:00-20:00 – Greco-Roman Medal Matches & Awards.
Wednesday, July 16
10:00-15:00 – Qualifying and Repechage in Women’s Freestyle, All Weights.
18:00-20:00 – Women’s Freestyle Medal Matches & Awards.
Thursday, July 17
10:00-15:00 – Qualifying and Repechage in Men’s Freestyle, All Weights.
18:00-20:00 – Men’s Freestyle Medal Matches & Awards.