Just one week after former Gopher Pat Smith clinched his first career trip to the World Championships by winning the 71-kilogram, Greco title at the World Team Trials held at the U.S. Open, he did not allow a single point to his opponents as he won gold at the 2017 Pan American Championships in Brazil. The gold is the third straight for Smith at Pan Ams, following gold-medal victories at 71 kilograms last year in Frisco, Texas, and in 2015 in Chile.
By virtue of his draw, Smith was already sitting in the semifinals when he stepped onto the mat for his opening match against Fernando Vicente Gomez (Mexico). Smith picked up a second-period tech fall over Vicente Gomez, an 8-0 victory that ended at 4:34.
Smith built on the momentum of that bout to put together an even more lop-sided effort against Luis Alfredo de Leon (Dominance Republic) in the gold-medal match. An early takedown gave Smith a 3-0 lead, an advantage that quickly ballooned to 9-0 with the help of a series of gut-wrenches. Smith picked up the tech fall and the gold medal in just 1:44.
His trip to the top of the podium came a day later than Smith and any of his teammates or opponents had planned after an odd incident on the opening day of the tournament. A fire in the arena led to Greco matches being postponed from Friday to Saturday. All those involved with the tournament – competitors, coaches, officials and fans – safely evacuated the arena on Friday night and returned for the tournament’s completion over the weekend.
While it is the college wrestling offseason, it’s prime season for freestyle and Greco. To stay up-to-date on how past, present and future Gophers are doing in competition this summer, or just for general news about the program, GopherSports.com is your home for Gopher Wrestling news. Be sure to follow Gopher Wrestling on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest updates.