Thomas Gilman was one of three gold medalists for the U.S. in Ottawa (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
OTTAWA, Canada -- It was a day of mixed emotions for the American freestyle wrestling program.
The U.S. freestyle team entered Sunday's Pan American Olympic Qualifier with two of the six Olympic freestyle weight classes already qualified for Tokyo, 74 kilograms and 97 kilograms, and four not yet qualified.
When the dust settled on Sunday, the U.S. qualified five of the six weight classes for the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Only one freestyle weight class remains not qualified: 65 kilograms.
Thomas Gilman (57 kilograms), David Taylor (86 kilograms) and Nick Gwiazdowski (125), all past world medalists, qualified their respective weight classes for the Olympics by reaching the finals. All three won gold medals. Zain Retherford (65 kilograms) fell in the semifinals, which prevented the U.S. from qualifying the 65-kilogram weight class for the Olympics. He battled back to earn a bronze medal.
Gilman, a 2017 world silver medalist, opened his tournament with a 10-0 tech over Canada's Ligrit Sadiku. He faced his toughest challenge in the quarterfinals against two-time U23 world champion Reineri Andreu Ortega of Cuba. Ortega scored a takedown thirty seconds into the match to go up 2-0 early. The two traded step outs and the Cuban took a 3-1 lead into the break. In the second period, Gilman inched closer with a step out, and then scored a takedown midway through the period to take a 4-3 lead. Gilman then held off Ortega the rest of the way to earn a 4-3 victory.
Gilman cruised to a 10-0 semifinal victory over Juan Rubelin Ramirez Beltre of the Dominican Republic to qualify the 57-kilogram weight class for the United States in the Olympics. He won by forfeit in the finals over Oscar Eduardo Tigreros Urbano of Columbia.
Taylor, a 2018 world champion, returned to competition for the first time in over 10 months after recovering from a knee injury. He started his day with a 10-0 victory over Pedro Francisco Ceballos Fuentes of Venezuela. In the semifinals, Taylor faced three-time Pan Am Championships gold medalist Yurieski Torreblanca Queralta of Cuba. Taylor dominated from start to finish, rolling to an 8-0 shutout victory. He then won by forfeit in the finals over Peru's Pool Edinson Ambrocio Greifo.
Gwiazdowski, a two-time world bronze medalist, was dominant all day. He outscored his opposition 20-0 in contested matches. In the semifinals, Gwiazdowski won by technical superiority over Luis Felipe Vivenes Urbaenja of Venezuela. He won his gold by forfeit over Canada's Amarveer Dhesi, a former collegiate wrestling star at Oregon State.
Retherford looked strong in his first two matches, picking up two 10-0 techs to advance to the semifinals. In the semifinals, he faced Argentina's Agustin Alejandro Destribats. The 24-year-old Retherford jumped out early, scoring a takedown off a double leg thirty seconds into the match. He then transitioned to a lace when the Argentinian wrestler caught him and secured a fall just over a minute into the match. Retherford's semifinal loss prevented the U.S. from qualifying the weight class for the Olympics. Retherford came back to win a bronze with a fall over Albaro Rudesindo Camacho of the Dominican Republic.
The United States will have one more opportunity to qualify 57 kilograms in freestyle -- along with women's wrestling weight classes at the Last Chance Olympic Qualifier in Sofia, Bulgaria, which was recently postponed and will be rescheduled.