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U.S. dominates at Pan Am Cadet Championships

We assembled our U.S. FILA Cadet Pan Am Team in Aurora, Ill. on July 29. Twelve of the top Cadet age group wrestlers in the nation (representing nine different states) joined forces with coaches from California, Utah, New Jersey, Florida, Illinois, and Michigan for training camp at Marmion Academy near Chicago.

The elite coaching staff prepared two-a-day workouts for the team that included freestyle and Greco-Roman training as well as team-building techniques and mental training.

Trip Summary:
July 29: Team and coaches arrive in Aurora for training at Marmion
July 30: Training started with two-a-day workouts and team building drills
July 31: Training intensity picked up with several live situations and mental training
Aug. 1: The day focused on agility training, live matches and individual instruction
Aug. 2: Travel day from Chicago O'Hare to Mexico City and then to Campeche
Aug. 3: Started training in Campeche and team trip to the beach
Aug. 4: Weigh-ins for Greco-Roman and team meal
Aug. 5: Greco-Roman competition; eight medals, including four golds and the team title!
Aug. 6: Weight cutting for freestyle and a visit to Mayan Ruins in Edzna.
Aug. 7: Freestyle competition; nine medals, including five golds and the team title!
Aug. 8: All team members head back home

The tremendous cultural experiences, the ability to coach and compete at the international level and most importantly the pride in representing the USA in competition was felt by each team member and that allowed us to bond quickly into a very strong unit! The maturity of our elite wrestlers and the focus of our coaching staff allowed us to all grow to be better wrestlers, coaches and people.

Team USA at Pan Am Cadet Championships
"Our Greco team started a bit slow in Friday's morning session but we really rallied to earn 8 medals including 4 golds and the team title. For many of our guys, this was their first taste of international competition. As they became more comfortable with the environment they really started to tear guys up," said Coach Mike Clayton, head coach at Stevens Institute of Technology.

Northwestern University head coach Drew Pariano said, "We are developing a more international style and this tournament effectively allowed us to test our match strategies. We still need to learn when to attack and when to control our mat position. The entire U.S. contingent from the athletes themselves; to the support staff, were motivated to win gold medals."

The men's freestyle and Greco-Roman teams dominated the Cadet Pan Am Competition by bringing home 17 of a possible 20 medals in the two-day event. In total, the U.S. Contingent hauled in nine gold medals (four in Greco-Roman and five in freestyle).

Jake Stilling (Wisconsin) and Eric Hoffman (Maryland) earned double titles for the U.S. team. Stilling had an impressive run of four straight victories in freestyle to capture the 73 kg weight class. Hoffman had an electrifying comeback victory in Greco-Roman to claim the 69 kg class.

At 42 kg, Ethan Koan (Missouri) earned a silver medal in Greco and a bronze medal in the freestyle competition. At 50 kg, Chris Allen (Missouri) earned a spot in the Bronze Medal match in Greco-Roman. Illinois natives Tommy Pawleski and Jered Cortez had impressive showings and both athletes were double finalists. Pawleski won the gold in Greco-Roman and earned a silver in the freestyle competition. Cortez had a gold medal performance at 54 kg in freestyle and took the silver in Greco. At 58 kg in Greco-Roman, Brandon George (Utah) made his second Cadet Pan Am appearance after earning the spot in 2009.

New Jersey's Anthony Ashnault earned a silver medal in freestyle after a back and forth finals match with tournament OW Wilfredo Rodriquez of Venezuela at 58 kg. Ashnault had two dominating wins in the qualification rounds. Utah's Grant LaMont (63 kg) earned gold as he dominated his freestyle opponents. In the bronze medal match for Greco-Roman, LaMont was able to score two five-point throws to secure his spot on the podium.

At 84 kg, Spencer Wilson (Kansas) was a double medalist with a bronze in the Greco-Roman competition and a silver medal in freestyle. Specializing in Greco-Roman at 100 kg, Alex Bambic (Arizona) put together an array of attacks to earn his gold medal. Taking the freestyle duties for the U.S. team at 100 kg was Adam Coon (Michigan) who was unscored upon during the freestyle competition. Coon, who was a double champion at the FILA Cadet Nationals this past spring and will represent the United States at the Cadet World Championships in Szombethely, Hungary, Aug. 25-28, 2011.

Team leader Brian Giffin of Beat the Streets Chicago said, "The Cadet program is a vital part of the development of our nation's top wrestlers. This trip to Pan Am's was a strong step to helping us prepare tomorrow's Olympic and World Champions for their journey."

Special thanks to the USA Staff that made this trip such a successful venture:

Team Leader: Brian Giffin (Illinois)
Head Coach: Mike Clayton (New Jersey)
Head Coach: Drew Pariano (Illinois)
Asst. Coach: Steve Glassey (California)
Asst. Coach: Craig LaMont (Utah)
Asst. Coach: John Grecco (Florida)
Asst. Coach: Dan Coon (Michigan)
Team Manager: Ricardo Garcia (California)
Team Manager: Matt Hampton (Illinois)
Media: Mike Bambic (Arizona)
Media: Bill Ashnault (New Jersey)

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