The Nittany Lion Wrestling Club showed why it is one of the best training grounds in the world for international competition. Mark Hall and David Taylor picked up gold medals in dominant fashion. Ben Provisor medaled in Greco-Roman and Freestyle, filling in for J'den Cox, who was unable to compete due to illness.
Mark Hall - Gold Medal (79 kg)
For Mark Hall this was his first time wrestling as a senior against international competition, and he did not disappoint. He won his opening round match without setting foot on the mat when Rashji Mackey (Bahamas) forfeited, which is one way to avoid the pain of facing Mark Hall. In the semifinals, Hall faced Santiago Restre (Colombia) and picked him apart to win 10-1.
Hall's final was against former North Carolina Tar Heel Ethan Ramos (Puerto Rico), and it was a rather cagey affair. Hall ended up taking a 2-0 lead through the first period, and after a takedown in the second he had a fairly comfortable 4-0 lead. Hall's defense is just so tough to get through, and he ended up adding 2 more exposure points in the dying seconds to post a 6-0 win.
Hall did not miss a beat in his first freestyle competition since the junior world championships last summer, and this should provide him a nice boost mentally as he gets ready for the World Team Trials in a couple of weeks.
David Taylor - Gold Medal (86 kg)
David Taylor did David Taylor things once again, and it seems so hard to use the correct verbiage to describe just how dominant he was in his opening three matches. Taylor cruised to the final with a pin and a combined score of 23-2 in the tournament. However, Taylor ran into a familiar foe in No. 11 Yurieski Torreblanca (Cuba) in the final.
Torreblanca and Taylor met at the Yarygin Grand Prix in January, where Torreblanca also gave Taylor his toughest match that whole tournament. Torreblanca's size, strength and defense make him an incredibly difficult guy to handle, and Taylor has had trouble getting to his offense consistently against the Cuban. Taylor won their first match on criteria 4-4, which shows how close these two are.
Much like their match earlier this year, it was a low scoring affair and Torreblanca struck first. A first period takedown had Torreblanca up 2-0, but a Taylor takedown late in the first period and a second period push-out was all Taylor needed to wrap up his Pan-American Championships with a 3-2 win.
Taylor is wrestling as well as he ever has internationally, which is good news for him as he's trying to make his first USA world team, but it's also bad news for everyone else.
Ben Provisor - Bronze Medal (Greco-Roman 87 kg), Gold Medal (Freestyle 92 kg)
Ben Provisor, who wrestled collegiately at Northern Michigan, entered the Pan-American Championships expecting to compete for a Greco-Roman gold medal, and ended up filling for the ill J'den Cox in freestyle as well. Provisor is probably going to win Wrestler of the Week for Team USA for good reason. Pulling double duty is hard enough, but being great at two different styles requires a whole extra level of mental toughness.
Provisor's Greco-Roman campaign did not go fully to plan though as he ended up 3-2 overall in the competition. Provisor picked up wins over Jose Bustos (Chile) and Ricardo Cardanes (Puerto Rico) in convincing fashion by a total of 13-2 over both matches. However, Provisor ran into a very tough opponent in Cuba's Daniel Hechaverria and ended up losing 9-0 to the eventual gold medal winner. Provisor rebounded with a 3-0 win over Alfonso Yepez (Mexico) in the bronze medal match. Unfortunately, Provisor ended up losing the true third place match and failed to qualify the USA for the 2019 Pan-American games at this weight class.
Provisor rebounded from his Greco-Roman competition in freestyle to decimate the field for a gold medal. Provisor won three matches by a combined score of 32-0 on his way to the top of the podium. Despite not wrestling his preferred style, Provisor showed he ain't someone to mess with. He'll be looking to clinch his world team spot in June on the Greco-Roman team.