Women's wrestling storylines from Pan-Am Championships
Wednesday, May 3, 2023 - 12:52 By Taylor GREGORIO
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (April 26) -- On May 3-6, hundreds of wrestlers will descend upon Buenos Aires, Argentina, to find out who are the best wrestlers in the western hemisphere at the 2023 Pan-American Championships.
The top four ranked wrestlers will be seeded for the tournament. The ranks were determined by performances at the 2022 World Championships and this year’s two Ranking Series events. This tournament will also serve as seeding criteria for the 2023 World Championships in Serbia.
All the action from Buenos Aires can be followed live on uww.org or on the UWW app.
Yaynelis SANZ VERDECIA (CUB) won the 2021 Pan-Am Games champion. (Photo: UWW / Osvaldo Aguliar)
Five 2022 Pan-American Champions return
Five reigning Pan-American champions, representing three countries, seek to repeat their 2022 gold-medal performances. Coming from the USA is seven-time Pan-Am champion Sarah HILDEBRANDT (USA) at 50kg, Dominique PARRISH (USA) at 53kg and Forrest MOLINARI (USA) at 68kg. Molinari won her 2022 gold at 65kg.
The other two returning champions are Yaynelis SANZ VERDECIA (CUB) at 57kg and Ana GODINEZ (CAN) at 62kg. Sanz was a 2021 U20 Pan-Am Games champion, and Godinez comes in with a 2021 U23 World gold medal.
Helen MAROULIS (USA) will return to Pan-Am competition for the first time since 2012. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)
11 World medalists in the field
The Pan Am women’s field is heavy with talent, including 11 athletes that account for 24 World and Olympic medals.
Making her first Pan Am appearance since 2012, Helen MAROULIS (USA) holds a 2016 Olympic gold medal, a 2021 Olympic bronze medal, three World titles and three other World medals.
She’s joined by US medalists Hildebrandt, Parrish, Molinari, Jacarra WINCHESTER (USA), Kayla MIRACLE (USA), Mallory VELTE (USA) and Amit ELOR (USA). Fellow World champions include Winchester, who won at 55kg in 2019, Parrish who snagged the crown at 53kg in 2022, and Elor who made a statement in her 2022 championship run at 72kg.
Hildebrandt brings a 2021 Olympic bronze medal, two World silvers and a bronze. Miracle, a Tokyo Olympian, won back-to-back World silvers in 2021 and 2022 at 62kg, while Velte owns a pair of bronze medals from 2018 and 2022. Molinari adds her 2021 bronze to the competition.
Canada boasts three World medalists this weekend, including bronze winners Samantha STEWART (CAN) at 53kg and Diana WEICKER (CAN) at 55kg and 2018 world champion Justina DI STASIO (CAN) at 76kg, who also earned bronze in 2017.
Justina DI STASIO (CAN) was a 2018 world champion at 72kg. (Photo: UWW / Kostadin Andonov)
Weight to watch: 76kg
There’s a lot of intrigues looking at the 76kg field. Four athletes bring World gold medals and other significant accolades from different age groups.
Canada’s Di Stasio leads the pack with a 2018 world title at 72kg as well as a 2017 bronze at 75kg. Next week, she seeks her sixth Pan Am title.
Milayhis MARIN POTRILLE (CUB) is on the hunt for her first continental championship at the senior level. She has a loaded resume with U20 and U23 World gold medals from 2019, a 2021 U20 Pan-Am Games title and a 2018 Youth Olympic Games gold medal.
Tatiana RENTERIA (COL) also has a U23 World title under her belt, coming in 2022. Just a year before, she competed in her first-career World Championships, also at the U23 level, where she captured silver. Next week marks her third Senior Pan-Am appearance.
Rounding out the group of impressive wrestlers is Kennedy BLADES (USA), who is a 2021 U20 World champion. This is her first season at 76kg, and she is already showing she’s a force, winning the Ibrahim Moustafa, a UWW Ranking Series event.
Yanet SOVERO (PER) will wrestle at her 17th Pan-Am event. (Photo: UWW / Tony Rotundo)
Sovero entering 17th senior Pan-Am event
At 40 years old, Yanet SOVERO (PER) is registered to compete in her 17th senior Pan-American event. Her first continental tournament was in 2002, where she earned silver. During her Pan-Am career, Sovero is a 2020 champion, six-time finalist and nine-time medalist. Her hardware totals one gold, five silvers and four bronzes. She has also wrestled in four World Championships and the 2016 Olympic Games.
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