Forrest Molinari hoists the American Flag after winning the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile.
Tony Rotundo / Wrestlers Are Warriors

Forrest Molinari hoists the American Flag after winning the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile.

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Molinari ices Pan American Games gold; Garrett, Hall add silver medals to men’s freestyle haul

by Richard Immel

SANTIAGO, Chile – Day two of wrestling at the Pan American Games wasn’t as triumphant for Team USA as its gold-laden opener but the Stars and Stripes still added to its medal count with some dynamite efforts inside a raucous Centro de Entrenamiento Olímpico.


Forrest Molinari kicked things off in style for the U.S. women’s freestyle squad, earning her fourth Pan American title and first Games gold. Nahshon Garrett and Mark Hall put a bow on the men’s freestyle event by adding a set of silver medals to the American ledger.

Molinari scores first gold for U.S. women

The 68 kg gold medal match was slightly closer than anticipated for the gritty American Molinari. The World bronze medalist needed some late heroics to get the victory against 2022 Pan American champion Soleymi Caraballo Hernandez of Venezuela. She forced the match-deciding step out with 46 seconds left in the bout, and wound up winning by a single point, 3-2.


Her finals performance erred more on the defensive side, which is drastically different than her first three contests. Molinari picked up two technical falls and a pin in the morning session without surrendering a point to the opposition.


The two U.S. women featured in bronze medal bouts, Erin Golston and Xochitl Mota-Pettis, both ended one win short of reaching the podium.


Golston had trouble finding her offense throughout the tournament, a spell that continued into her 50 kg bronze medal bout against Mariana Rojas Diaz of Venezuela. Rojas Diaz scored the lone takedown of the contest and held Golston at bay for a 3-0 win. The three-time U20 World medalist finished in fourth place overall.


Flying to Santiago directly from the U23 World Championships in Tirana, Albania, where she finished in fifth place, it was a known risk Mota-Pettis could experience a bit of jetlag. She didn’t have her usual pop as her tournament ended at the hands of Angela Alvarez Martinez of Cuba, 10-0. Mota-Pettis dropped down to fifth place at 57 kg for the U.S. women.


Cuba, Venezuela, Canada and Ecuador captured two medals each to lead the medal count in women’s freestyle midway through the competition. Country’s collecting a gold medal in the first three weight categories were Cuba, United States and Brazil.

2023 Pan American Games Day Two Finals

20 photos

Garrett, Hall land silver medals

After a four-for-four gold medal haul on Wednesday night, the U.S. added a pair of silver medals to its men’s freestyle total from Garrett and Hall, both of whom fell to World-class Cuban competitors in the finals.


Two-time World bronze medalist, two-time Olympian and reigning Pan American Games champion Alejandro Valdes Tobier of Cuba came out firing on Garrett with a takedown and two torque-filled gut-wrenches in the first 35 seconds of the 65 kg finals. He iced the match with a second period fall in 4:08 with a crafty three-quarter nelson from neutral that nearly rendered Garrett unconscious. The fall was challenged to no success and Garrett’s impressive run at the Pan American Games stopped there.


Garrett posted three energetic wins in the morning session to reach the gold medal match wrestling up from his normal competition weight at 61 kg. His signature win of the tournament came in the semifinals against 2020 Olympian and four-time Pan American medalist Agustin Destribats of Argentina.


The now six-time Pan American champion Yurieski Torreblanca Queralta of Cuba edged Hall in the most competitive men’s freestyle final of the Pan American Games. Although Hall wasn’t able to exact revenge on his Cuban adversary, he did close the gap substantially from the duo’s previous meeting last May. A controlling 14-4 technical fall transofrmed into to a razor thin 3-1 decision in a matter of months.


The first two minutes of the 86 kg final was as exciting as they come. Hall spent the better part of that time fighting off a Torreblanca shot attempt, and ultimately scrambled through to the top position. The sequence was scored 2-1 in favor of Cuba. With 1:11 to go in the bout, the action went out of bounds, and Torreblanca was awarded the step out point on a call that could have gone either way. Hall began his final sprint with 30 seconds to go but couldn’t find an opening.


Hall, a two-time U20 World champion and U17 World champion, earned a pair of clean wins over Hunter Lee of Canada and Ethan Ramos of Puerto Rico earlier in the day.


The U.S. wrapped up the men’s freestyle tournament with a perfect six-medal effort, the most of any country. Cuba came in second with five medals, two gold, two silver and a bronze. Venezuela impressed with a silver medalist and three bronze winners to round out the top three countries.

Up next in Santiago

The Pan American Games resume at 9 a.m. (ET) tomorrow with the preliminary rounds for the remaining women’s freestyle weights (53-62-76 kg) and the first two Greco-Roman (60-77 kg). Samara Chavez, Kayla Miracle, Kylie Welker, Ildar Hafizov and Kamal Bey are the Friday crew for Team USA.


The Panam Sports Channel is broadcasting the event live at panamsportschannel.org. Brackets and updated results from this event can be found at arena.uww.org.

2023 Pan American Games, At Santiago, Chile, Nov. 2

Men’s freestyle results

65 kg

Gold – Alejandro Valdes Tobier (Cuba)

Silver – Nahshon Garrett (United States)

Bronze – Agustin Destribats (Argentina)

Bronze – Joseph Silva (Puerto Rico)

5th – Joseph Silva (Peru)

5th – Albaro Rudecindo Camacho (Dominican Republic)

7th – Uber Cuero Munoz (Colombia)

8th – Marvin Chavez Claros (Bolivia)

9th – Andre Quispe Fajardo (Chile)


Gold – Alejandro Valdes Tobier (Cuba) fall Nahshon Garrett (United States), 4:08

Bronze – Agustin Destribats (Argentina) dec. Joseph Silva (Peru), 7-1

Bronze – Joseph Silva (Puerto Rico) dec. Albaro Rudecindo Camacho (Dominican Republic), 6-5


86 kg

Gold – Yurieski Torreblanca Queralta (Cuba)

Silver – Mark Hall (United States)

Bronze – Hunter Lee (Canada)

Bronze – Pedro Ceballos Fuentes (Venezuela)

5th – Ethan Ramos (Puerto Rico)

5th – Carlos Izquierdo Mendez (Colombia)

7th – Eduardo Gajardo Meneses (Chile)

8th – Guilherme Barros De Arruda Porto (Brazil)

9th – Noel Torres Chacon (Mexico)

10th – Rashji Mackey (Bahamas)


Gold – Yurieski Torreblanca Queralta (Cuba) dec. Mark Hall (United States), 3-1

Bronze – Hunter Lee (Canada) tech. fall Ethan Ramos (Puerto Rico), 14-4

Bronze – Pedro Ceballos Fuentes (Venezuela) dec. Carlos Izquierdo Mendez (Colombia), 7-7


Women’s freestyle results

50 kg

Gold – Yusneylis Guzman Lopez (Cuba)

Silver – Jacqueline Mollocana Eleno (Ecuador)

Bronze – Mariana Rojas Diaz (Venezuela)

4th – Erin Golston (United States)

5th – Thalia Oliveira De Freitas (Brazil)

6th – Yorlenis Moran Sanchez (Panama)

7th – Patricia Bermudez (Argentina)


Gold – Yusneylis Guzman Lopez (Cuba) dec. Jacqueline Mollocana Eleno (Ecuador), 5-2

Bronze – Mariana Rojas Diaz (Venezuela) dec. Erin Golston (United States), 3-0


57 kg

Gold – Giullia Rodrigues Penalber De Oliveira (Brazil)

Silver – Hannah Taylor (Canada

Bronze – Angela Alvarez Martinez (Cuba)

Bronze – Luisa Valverde Melendres (Ecuador)

5th – Xochitl Mota-Pettis (United States)

5th – Betzabeth Sarco Colmenarez (Venezuela)

7th – Nes Marie Rodriguez Tirado (Puerto Rico)

8th – Susana Lozano Veytia (Mexico)

9th – Dafne Palacios Loyola (Chile)

10th – Jacqueline Hernandez Gonzalez (El Salvador)


Gold – Giullia Rodrigues Penalber De Oliveira (Brazil) dec. Hannah Taylor (Canada), 7-6

Bronze – Angela Alvarez Martinez (Cuba) tech. fall Xochitl Mota-Pettis (United States), 10-0

Bronze – Luisa Valverde Melendres (Ecuador) fall Betzabeth Sarco Colmenarez (Venezuela), 1:36


68 kg

Gold – Forrest Molinari (United States)

Silver – Soleymi Caraballo Hernandez (Venezuela)

Bronze – Nicoll Parrado Osorio (Colombia)

Bronze – Olivia Di Bacco (Canada)

5th – Virginia Jimenez Fernandez (Chile)

5th – Ambar Garnica Flores (Mexico)

7th – Brenda Sterling Martinez (Cuba)

8th – Yanet Sovero Nino (Peru)

9th – Saidy Chavez Figueroa (Honduras)


Gold – Forrest Molinari (United States) dec. Soleymi Caraballo Hernandez (Venezuela), 3-2

Bronze – Nicoll Parrado Osorio (Colombia) fall Virginia Jimenez Fernandez (Chile), 4:13

Bronze – Olivia Di Bacco (Canada) dec. Ambar Garnica Flores (Mexico), 8-6


U.S. men’s freestyle results

65 kg – Nahshon Garrett (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania/Titan Mercury WC/Lehigh Valley WC), Silver

WIN Joseph Silva (Peru), 12-4

WIN Andre Quispe Fajardo (Chile), tech. fall, 10-0

WIN Agustin Destribats (Argentina), 7-5

LOSS Alejandro Valdes Tobier (Cuba), fall, 4:08


86 kg – Mark Hall (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania/Titan Mercury WC/Pennsylvania RTC), Silver

WIN Hunter Lee (Canada), tech. fall, 12-2

WIN Ethan Ramos (Puerto Rico), 7-0

LOSS Yurieski Torreblanca Queralta (Cuba), 3-1


U.S. women’s freestyle results

50 kg – Erin Golston (Lake in the Hills, Illinois/New York AC), 4th

WIN Patricia Bermudez (Argentina), forfeit

LOSS Jacqueline Mollocana Eleno (Ecuador), 4-0

LOSS Yusneylis Guzman Lopez (Cuba), tech. fall, 11-0

LOSS Mariana Rojas Diaz (Venezuela), 3-0


57 kg – Xochitl Mota-Pettis (Humble, Texas/Rise RTC), 5th

LOSS Giullia Rodrigues Penalber De Oliveira (Brazil), fall, 2:08

LOSS Angela Alvarez Martinez (Cuba), tech. fall, 10-0


68 kg – Forrest Molinari (Tempe, Arizona/Sunkist Kids WC), Gold

WIN Saidy Chavez Figueroa (Honduras), tech. fall, 10-0

WIN Virginia Jimenez Fernandez (Chile), tech. fall, 11-0

WIN Nicoll Parrado Osorio (Colombia), fall, 3:40

WIN Soleymi Caraballo Hernandez (Venezuela), 3-2