PAN AMERICAN GAMES: Nothing miraculous about U.S. women dominating wrestling, as well as two track & field golds

Pan American Games 68 kg Freestyle gold medalist Tamyra Mensah (USA). (Photo: Lima 2019)

Among the wrestling cognoscenti, the power of the United States women’s program is well known, but after four victories and a silver medal at the Pan American Games in Lima (PER), it’s becoming an open secret.

After wins by Whitney Conder (50 kg) and Sarah Hildebrandt (53 kg) on Thursday, the U.S. women collected two more golds on Friday in emphatic style:

62 kg: Kayla Miracle needed no divine help to win this class, winning her three matches by pinfall, pinfall and 12-0 in the final against Jackeline Renteria of Colombia in the final.

68 kg: Tamyra Mensah similarly pounded her opposition and collected another tournament victory this season. She won her matches by 12-0, pinfall and another pin in the final against Olivia di Bacco of Canada.
While four-time World Champion Adeline Gray withdrew from the 76 kg class, the American women won four golds and one silver in the remaining five divisions, from Jenna Burkert, who lost a tight, 2-1 decision to Ecuador’s Lissette Antes Castillo.

Hildebrant is ranked no. 1 in the world in the 53 kg class by United World Wrestling and Mensah is currently ranked second. These are good signs for the U.S. ahead of the 2019 World Championships in Kazakhstan beginning on 14 September. The U.S. men got their first Freestyle gold, from Daton Fix at 57 kg.

The U.S. also had a good day on the pistes, winning the men’s Team Foil event and the women’s Team Sabre. The American men had the advantage of having individual gold medalist Gerek Meinhardt and bronze medalist Race Imboden and defeated Brazil in the final, 45-23. The women’s Sabre gold was led by individual champ Eliza Stone and the Americans edged the Dominican Republic by 45-31 in the final. With two team events left, the U.S. has won three of the five men’s events and all five women’s divisions.

In the headline sports of track & field and swimming, the U.S. had pretty good days, with two gold medals in each:

● At the track, American women’s javelin record holder Kara Winger had one of her best series ever and bombed her second throw 64.92 m (213-0), a season’s best and moving her from 19th on the world list for 2019 to seventh. It’s her best throw in four years!

Nikki Hiltz waited patiently for her chance to sprint in the women’s 1,500 m and when she entered the final straightaway, she was ready with a powerful surge and a victory in 4:07.14, clear of Jamaica’s Aisha Praught (4:08.26). It’s the fifth time this season that Hiltz has run faster than her lifetime best coming into 2019 (4:09.14).

Jamaica’s women also had a good day, with Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce smoking the field in the 200 m in 22.43, eclipsing the Pan American Games record of Evelyn Ashford (22.45) that had stood for 40 years! In addition, shot winner Danniel Thomas-Dodd extended her own national record to 19.55 m (64-1 3/4) and maintained her status as no. 3 on the world list for this season.

Friday’s meet also produced a world-leading mark in the women’s triple jump, as Venezuela’s reigning World Champion Yulimar Rojas won with a lifetime best and national record of 15.11 m (49-7). Jamaica’s Shanieka Ricketts scored the silver with a lifetime best of her own at 14.77 m (48-5 1/2).

Brazil won both the men’s and women’s 4×100 m relays in 38.27 and 43.04, with the U.S. finishing third in both.

With one day to go, the U.S. has had an ordinary – even unimpressive – meet by its standards, but still leads the medal count with 24 (3-10-11), ahead of Jamaica (16: 6-5-5) and Brazil (13: 5-5-3).

● At the pool, Brazil had the best night, winning a tight men’s 50 m Freestyle with Bruno Fratus edging Nathan Adrian of the U.S., 21.61-21.87, a season’s best for Adrian. Etiene Medeiros won the women’s 50 m Free over American Margo Geer, 24.88-25.03.

The Brazilians also won the men’s 4×200 m relay in a meet record 7:10.66, ahead of the U.S. (7:14.82).

American swimmers got two wins on the night (and eight total medals) from the women’s 4×200 m Free relay and a very impressive performance from Charlie Swanson, 21, who moved from 56th on the world list for 2019 to no. 4 (!) with a 4:11.48 lifetime best that won the men’s 400 m Medley by almost eight seconds!

In women’s field hockey, world no. 3 Argentina confirmed its class with a 5-0 win over the no. 13-ranked U.S. in the semifinals and 5-1 over no. 18 Canada in the final. The Americans won the bronze over Chile, 5-0.

In judo, the iconic winner of the women’s 57 kg division in Rio, Brazil’s Rafaela Silva completed a set of Pan American Games medals with a victory over Ana Rosa (DOM). Silva won a silver medal in this division in 2011 and a bronze in 2015 and now has a gold as well.

In the overall medal standings, the U.S. now has 240 total medals (93-76-71), ahead of Brazil (142: 46-37-59) and Canada (131: 31-54-46). So far, 30 of the 41 nations entered in the Pan Am Games have won at least one medal.

The Games is being shown on ESPN channels in the United States, primarily on ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN Deportes. Complete results can be found here; a compete summary of the medalists will be published in next week’s TSX Stat Pack!