Seven nations earn Paris 2024 Greco spots

Edwin  - CEO February 29, 2024
Updated 2024/02/29 at 5:32 PM
8 Min Read
97kg GR - Kevin Mejia Castillo (HON) df. Kauan Luiz Ferreira Gomes (BRA) 425 Image credit: UWW
97kg GR - Kevin Mejia Castillo (HON) df. Kauan Luiz Ferreira Gomes (BRA) 425 Image credit: UWW

 At Pan-Am Qualifiers, Julfalakyan falls short



World champion and 2012 London Olympic silver medalist Arsen JULFALAKYAN’s (ARG) quest for his fourth Olympics has fallen short, at least for now.


Julkafalyan, who made the switch from Armenia to Argentina, lost his quarterfinal to Kamal BEY (USA) at the Pan-American Olympic Qualifiers in Acapulco, Mexico, only to see Bey lose his semifinal, the Paris Olympics qualification about later.


The opening day of the tournaments saw competitors across six Greco-Roman Olympic weight classes take the mat to secure a spot for their nations for the upcoming Paris Olympics. The top two wrestlers, or the semifinals winners, in each of the 60kg, 67kg, 77kg, 87kg, 97kg, and 130kg weight classes earn a ticket for Paris.


The spotlight initially fell on Julfalakyan. Despite his decorated past and a silver at the Henri Deglane Grand Prix last month, the 36-year-old faced a tough challenge, bowing out in a closely contested 4-2 quarterfinal against Bey. He took the lead but failed to keep up with Bey in the second period.


Bey, a favorite coming into the qualifiers, then lost the semifinal to reigning Pan-Am champion Jair CUERO (COL), 6-4, despite finishing the first period with a 4-0 lead. The Colombian kickstarted his comeback with a sweet counter to a shooting Bey before pulling off two two-point moves. The two had previously met in another tight contest last week in the Pan-Am Championships final, where Cuero held criteria.


In the other semifinal, three-time Pan-American champion Yosvanys PENA (CUB) beat Joilson RAMOS (BRA) 11-1. Pena also represented Cuba in the 77kg category at the Tokyo Olympics.


The 87kg category also witnessed an upset, with Daniel Gregorich (CUB), a three-time Pan-Am champ, losing his semifinal to Spencer WOODS (USA). Gregorich took a 3-0 lead with a takedown and then a par terre. But as he tried a roll, he got stuck under Woods, who threatened him to earn two points.


Woods — who won the Pan-Am Championships gold last year at 82kg before moving up a division — took a 6-3 win after Gregorich was called for a leg foul when Woods was performing a lift in the second period.


Carlos MUNOZ (COL) beat Luis AVENDANO (VEN) 11-1 in the other semifinal to earn a Paris quota. Munoz countered an arm spin from Avendano to score two points and then lifted him for two more. Avendano was called for a leg foul, giving Munoz a 6-0 lead. He then tried to double-arm throw but fell on his back to get 4 points.


The United States would have expected a Paris ticket at 67kg from Alejandro SANCHO (USA), but the Pan-Am champion lost the semifinal to Nestor ALMANZA (CHI) 6-1. Sancho — who finished third at his first Pan-Am Championships in 2020 and then secured the 67kg quota for the U.S. at the Olympic qualifier the same week that year — couldn’t repeat the success.


The 21-year-old Chilean Almanza, who lost to Sancho in the Pan-Am Championships semifinal last week, dramatically avenged that loss. As Sancho tried to throw him from par terre in the second period, Almanza landed on top and sat on Sancho as the referee called the pin.


The other semifinal saw a battle between former Pan-Am champion and Olympians. Andres MONTANO (ECU), the runner-up from last week, narrowly edged out Julian HORTA (COL) 2-1 to secure a berth in the Paris Games at 67kg.


In the 97kg category, Kevin MEJIA (HON) continued his impressive form, securing a 10-0 victory over Carlos ADAMES (DOM). The three-time Pan-Am champion, who struck gold last week, dispatched his opponent with 15 seconds left in the first period.


Alan VERA (USA), who finished runner-up at the Pan-Am Championships last week, also clinched his Olympic berth with a solid 7-1 win against Luillys PEREZ (VEN).


The heavyweight 130kg class played out as expected, with veteran Yasmani ACOSTA (CHI) and Cohlton SCHULTZ (USA) clinching the Olympic berths.


In a six-man bracket, the wrestlers were divided into groups of three. Acosta emerged as the top wrestler to set up a semifinal against Eduard SOGHOMONYAN (BRA), while Schultz topped the other group to get Moises PEREZ (VEN) in the semifinal.


Acosta got the first par terre and rolled Shoghomonyan twice to lead 5-0, which he held until the clock expired to earn the Paris quota—the 35-year-old Cuba-born naturalized Chilean who had previously finished fifth at the Tokyo Olympics.


Schultz, who had two pins in two bouts in the group, beat Perez 2-1 as he scored step out at the start of the second period to lead 2-0. Perez got the passivity point with a minute 37 seconds left but failed to score any more points.


In the 60kg category, Raiber RODRIGUEZ (VEN) showcased his dominance with a convincing 9-1 victory over Dicther TORO (COL). The 2016 Olympian had won the Pan-Am gold last week. Kevin DE ARMAS (CUB) clinched the second birth with a 10-0 rout of Yerony LIRIA (DOM) in the semifinal. The Cuban also defeated top seed Ildar HAFIZOV (USA), who skipped the Pan-Ams to prepare for the qualifiers.


The qualifiers will continue with six women’s wrestling weight classes, beginning at 1000 hours local time, and Paris qualification semifinals are scheduled for 1700 hours local time.




60kg Paris Qualifying Semifinals

SF 1: Jose OROZCO (VEN) df. Hans TORO (COL), 9-1
SF 2: Kevin DE ARMAS (CUB) df. Liria YERONY (DOM), 10-0


67kg Paris Qualifying Semifinals

S.F. 1: Andres MONTANO (ECU) df. Julian HORTA (COL), 2-1
SF 2: Almanza NESTOR EVIAN (CHI) df. Alejandro SANCHO (USA), via fall (6-1)


77kg Paris Qualifying Semifinals

SF 1: Flores PENA (CUB) df. Joilson RAMOS (BRA), 11-1
SF 2: Jair CUERO (COL) df. Kamal BEY (USA), 6-4


87kg Paris Qualifying Semifinals

SF 1: Carlos MUNOZ (COL) df. Luis ROJAS (VEN), 11-1
S.F. 2: Spencer WOODS (USA) df. Daniel GREGORICH (CUB), 6-3


97kg Paris Qualifying Semifinals

SF 1: Alan VERA (USA) df. Jose PEREZ MORA (VEN), 7-1
SF 2: Kevin MEJIA (HON) df. Adames Palmer CARLOS ALBERTO (DOM), 10-0


130kg Paris Qualifying Semifinals

SF 1: Yasmani ACOSTA (CHI) df. Eduard SOGHOMONYAN (BRA), 5-0
SF 2: Cohlton SCHULTZ (USA) df. Moises PEREZ HELLBURG (VEN), 2-1


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