PAN AMERICAN GAMES: U.S. overcomes Canada for Softball gold, dominates wrestling, fencing and swimming

A fifth World Championships gold for American Freestyle wrestling star Jordan Burroughs? (Photo: Lima 2019)

Most of the competitions at the 2019 Pan American Games wrapped up on Saturday and the U.S. was in the thick of the action once again, with plenty of twists and turns, starting with softball.

The U.S. team is the best in the world and cruised through the round-robin games with a perfect 5-0 record, outscoring its opponents by 37-1.

In the playoffs, the U.S. (5-0) met Canada (4-1) in the semifinal, with the loser to face the winner of the Puerto Rico-Mexico game and qualify for the final. Only this time, the Canadians broke open a 1-1 game in the fourth inning with two runs off Cat Osterman for a 3-1 lead and Eujenna Caira and Danielle Lawrie managed to hold the U.S. to a Haylie McCleney solo home run in the seventh for a stunning 3-2 win.

That sent Canada to the final and the U.S. to face Puerto Rico in the play-in game. Monica Abbott pitched a one-hitter – a Jena Cozza home run in the second inning – and the U.S. advanced to its third game against Canada with a 3-1 win.

So in the final, would it be Abbott or Osterman? It was Abbott and she pitched a complete game, giving up four hits for her fourth win in the Games without a loss in a 3-1 U.S. victory. Lawrie took the loss, giving up two runs in the sixth inning, as right fielder Michelle Moultrie was the hero at the plate. She opened the scoring with a home run in the second and drove in a run in the sixth with a single. The U.S. won the Pan Am gold for the first time since 2011.

Three more powerful U.S. teams showed well on Saturday:

● In wrestling, American Freestylers won three of four divisions, with Jordan Burroughs, Kyle Snyder and Nick Gwiazdowski all taking gold medals.

Burroughs won his third straight Pan American Games gold medal impressively, winning his three bouts by 10-0, 15-4 and then 4-1 in the final over Franklin Gomez of Puerto Rico. Snyder won his second straight Pan American Games title at 97 kg, with a 10-0 win over Evan Ramos (PUR), a tense 3-1 win over defending champion Reineris Salas of Cuba and then 9-3 over Jose Diaz Roberti (VEN).

At 125 kg, Gwiazdowski continued his world-class wrestling with his first Pan American Games gold medal. He won all three of his bouts by technical fall, defeating Andrew Gunning (PER), Korey Jarvis (CAN) and Oscar Pino Hinds (CUB) by 10-0 scores.

The U.S. men ended their competition with four golds in six divisions plus two bronzes, to add to the women’s five medals in six events and three Greco-Roman medals in six classes: very impressive.

● In fencing, the American teams dominated the men’s Sabre and women’s Epee classes. The Sabre squad of Eli Dershwitz, Daryl Homer and Jeff Spear defeated Colombia., 45-41 in the final, while the women’s Epee trio of Katharine Holmes, Catherine Nixon and Isis Washington clubbed Cuba, 45-29, in their final.

The U.S. won all six events in the women’s competition and four of six in the men’s.

● In water polo, the U.S. won both the men’s and women’s golds, both times over Canada, with Brazil third.

The men sailed through pool play with a 3-0 record and 58-18 goal differential, and then stormed past Peru (24-2), Argentina (17-1) and Canada in the final by 18-6. Johnathan Cooper had 24 goals to lead the U.S.

The women won their group at 3-0 (66-10 in goals) and then pounded Peru (21-3), Cuba (31-7) and Canada in the final by 24-4. All together, the women scored 142 goals to 24 by its opponents. Stephanie Haralabidis and Makenzie Fischer led the U.S. – and the tournament – in scoring at 22 and 21, respectively.

Then there was the conclusion of the swimming events, with the U.S. continuing its domination, winning four of the six events. Alex Walsh and Meghan Small went 1-2 in the women’s 200 m Medley, 2:11.24-2:11.36 and then Will Licon won his second Pan Am gold in the men’s 200 Medley, drawing clear on the Freestyle leg to win in 1:59.13.

In the 4×100 m Medley relays, the U.S. got a stunning start in the women’s event from 100 m Backstroke gold medalist Phoebe Bacon. She won her individual event in 59.47, but led off in a sensational 59.02, moving her to no. 7 on the world list for 2019! With that kind of a lead to start, the rest of the American quartet of Annie Lazor, Kendyl Stewart and Margo Geer swam to an easy win in 3:57.84.

The men’s event figured to be much closer, and it was. Brazil’s Guilherme Guido out-swam Backstroke gold medalist Daniel Carr of the U.S. 53.70-53.95 to open, but Nic Fink and Tom Shields were brilliant in the middle strokes and gave Nathan Adrian a 77/100ths lead over 100 Free gold medalist Marcelo Chierighini. That was enough for Adrian, who split 47.33 and brought the U.S. in with a Pan American Games record of 3:30.25.

All together (and including the open-water events), the U.S. won 45 medals in Lima (21-15-9), to 21 for Brazil (11-9-12) and 15 for Canada (1-8-6). This amazing performance by the U.S. included 21 wins in the 36 events in the pool.

With only a few events remaining, the U.S. has 281 total medals, with 113 golds, 87 silvers and 81 bronzes. Brazil is second with 164 (54-42-68) and Canada is third (148: 33-64-51).

A review of the track & field events held earlier in the day is here. You can find the complete results of the Games here.