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Maroulis wins gold, Chun and Pirozhkova take silver in Pan Am Games women’s freestyle

Helen Maroulis of the USA gets a leg attack on Tonya Verbeek of Canada in the 55 kg finals at the Pan American Games. Robbert Wijtman photo.

GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Helen Maroulis (Rockville, Md./New York AC) won a gold medal at 55 kg/121 lbs. in women’s freestyle at the Pan American Games competition at CODE II Gymnasium on Saturday.

Maroulis defeated two-time Olympic medalist Tonya Verbeek of Canada in the finals, 1-0, 0-7, 3-0.

Maroulis won the first period on a takedown from the clinch position. Verbeek rebounded with a second period technical fall, getting a takedown then turning Maroulis repeatedly with an ankle lace for exposure. In the deciding third period, Maroulis countered a Verbeek throw attempt for two points in the closing seconds of the period. When Verbeek protested, the call was held up and Maroulis received another point.

“I am really happy. I’m excited I got the opportunity to wrestle here and to wrestle Tonya. It was awesome,” said Maroulis. “I always believe I can come back. In the second period, she rolled me up. I had to let it go. It was over. The third period was about wrestling smart, and pushing the pace. That was my advantage.”

National Women’s Coach Terry Steiner was impressed by Maroulis’ ability to stay focused under adversity.

“She competed really well. She stayed with the fight and stayed with the game plan. In the second period, she ended up losing 7-0. It would have been easy against a competitor like Verbeek to lay down and take your silver medal. She bounced back, let it go and scrapped a lot. Verbeek tried a throw at the end, and she caught her,” said Steiner.

Maroulis won her first match by pin over Joice Da Silva of Brazil, 0-1, 4-0, 0:44. The match was controversial, as FILA made Maroulis re-wrestle part of the match because of an officiating error. Maroulis came out strong in the semifinals, shutting out Marcia Andrades of Venezuela, 4-0, 1-0.

The U.S. had two silver medals during the evening from Clarissa Chun (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) at 48 kg/105.5 lbs., and Elena Pirozhkova (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC) at 63 kg/138.75 lbs.

Chun, a 2008 World champion, was pinned by 2008 Olympic champion Carol Huynh of Canada in the finals in the second period. Chun won the first period 3-2, but was trailing 1-0 in the second period when Huyhn hit a knee tap to take Chun to her back. Referees called the fall with just two seconds left in the period.

“I felt like I should have defended it out there and not gotten to my back,” said Chun. “It is always fun to wrestle Carol. She is a very technical wrestler. It just didn’t work out well for me.”

Chun opened with a dominant win over Guadalupe Perez of Mexico, 6-0, 5-0. She won her semifinal match over Carolina Castillo of Colombia, 0-1, 2-0, 5-0.

Pirozhkova, a 2010 World silver medal, was pinned in the second period by Katerina Vidiaux of Cuba. Vidiaux won the first period 6-2, ending the period with two three-point throws. Vidiaux was also able to get Pirozhkova to her back in the second period, securing the fall.

“I was prepared for her to come out with emotion. She came out a lot more enthusiastic than I did. I wrestled a little soft. I didn’t do my job out there,” said Pirozhkova.

Pirozhkova, a 2010 World silver medalist, opened with a first-period pin over Gloria Zavala of Venezuela in 1:42. In the semifinals, she stopped Sandra Roa of Colombia, 4-0, 8-2.

The USA finished with a gold medal and two silver medals in the women’s freestyle competition which ended Saturday. The Pan American Games feature the four women’s Olympic weight classes, and do not include the other three non-Olympic division contested at the World Championships. The U.S. did not qualify a competitor to compete at 72 kg/158.5 lbs.

“The highlight was Helen’s match in the finals with Verbeek. That was a great win against a great champion. We have to keep working as a program. We are right where we need to be right now. We can continue to improve. To win gold medals at the Olympics, which we are capable of, we have to keep moving forward and plugging away. The competition keeps getting tougher,” said Steiner.

The men’s freestyle competition begins on Sunday, with competition at 55 kg/121 lbs., 66 kg/145.5 lbs., 84 kg/185 lbs. and 120 kg/264.5 lbs.

At Guadalajara, Mexico, Oct. 22

Women's freestyle results

48 kg/105.5 lbs.
Gold - Carol Huynh (Canada)
Silver – Clarissa Chun (USA)
Bronze- Carolina Castillo Hidalgo (Colombia)
Bronze - Patricia Bermudez (Argentina)
5th - Guadalupe Perez Tiscareno (Mexico)
5th - Luisa Valverde Melendres (Ecuador)
7th - Nesmarie Rodriguez Tirado (Puerto Rico)
8th - Flor Quispe Cordova (Peru)
9th - Ingrid Medrano Cuellar (El Salvador)

55 kg/121 lbs.
Gold - Helen Maroulis (USA)
Silver - Tonya Verbeek (Canada)
Bronze - Joice Da Silva (Brazil)
Bronze - Lissette Antes Castillo (Ecuador)
5th - Marcia Andrades Mendoza (Venezuela)
5th - Jenny Malqui Suazo (Peru)
7th - Alma Valencia Escoto (Mexico)
8th - Enid Rivera Velazquez (Puerto Rico)

63 kg/138.75 lbs.
Gold - Katerina Vidiaux Lopez (Cuba)
Silver - Elena Pirozhkova
Bronze - Luz Vazquez (Argentina)
Bronze - Sandra Roa Valandia (Colombia)
5th - Vanessa Torres Batista (Dominican Republic)
5th - Gloria Zavala Lugo (Venezuela)
7th – Janet Sovero Nino (Peru)
8th - Justine Bouchard (Canada)

72 kg/158.5 lbs.
Gold - Lisset Hechavarria Medina (Cuba)
Silver - Aline Da Silva Ferreira (Brazil)
Bronze - Jaramit Weffer Guanipa (Venezuela)
Bronze - Elsa Sanchez (Dominican Republic)
5th - Ashley Zarate Campbell (Panama)
6th - Natalia Rodriquez Luyando (Puerto Rico)
7th - Diana Crisanto Ayil (Mexico)

U.S. women’s freestyle performances

48 kg/105.5 lbs. – Clarissa Chun, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids), 2nd
WIN Guadalupe Perez (Mexico), 6-0, 5-0
WIN Carolina Castillo (Colombia), 0-1, 2-0, 5-0
LOSS Carol Huynh (Canada), 3-2, 1:58 pin in second period

55 kg/121 lbs. – Helen Maroulis, Rockville, Md. (New York AC), 1st
WIN Joice Souza Da Silva (Brazil), 0-1, 4-0, 0:44
WIN Marcia Andrades (Venezuela), 4-0, 1-0
WIN Tonya Verbeek (Canada), 1-0, 0-7, 3-0

63 kg/138.75 lbs. – Elena Pirozhkova, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Gator WC), 2nd
WIN Gloria Zavala (Venezuela), pin 1:42
WIN Sandra Roa (Colombia), 4-0, 8-2
LOSS Katerina Vidiaux (Cuba), 2-6, pin in second period
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