Alec Pantaleo And Zahid Valencia Add To USA Wrestling Gold Medal Haul At Matteo Pellicone

by Todd Kortemeier

Tyler Graff and Nathan Tomasello compete in their 57kg freestyle challenge match during day 2 of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Wrestling Trials at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on April 10, 2016 in Iowa City, Iowa.


Gold medals for Alec Pantaleo and Zahid Valencia highlighted another strong day on the mat for Team USA to close out the Matteo Pellicone International in Rome, Italy.
Pantaleo topped Daulet Niyazbekov of Kazakhstan at 70 kg. and Valencia won in an all-American matchup with Mark Hall at 86 kg. to make it five gold medals for U.S. wrestlers across the weekend. On Sunday, there were medals in every weight class except one. 
Six U.S. wrestlers went for gold on the day. The first one to drape one around his neck was Pantaleo, who had to beat Niyazbekov, a world silver medalist, for the second time. Their meeting earlier Sunday was decided 6-2, and Pantaleo won the rematch 4-0. 
A second U.S. gold medal was a given when Valencia and Hall faced off later. It was a meeting of a two-time junior world champion in Hall and a junior world silver medalist in Valencia. Both wrestlers had very strong meets to that point, but it was Valencia that dominated the final, scoring an 11-0 technical fall. 
Besides Hall’s silver medal, Nick Suriano won silver at 57 kg., Tyler Graff won bronze at 61 kg., Joey McKenna won bronze at 65 kg., Olympic gold medalist Jordan Burroughs won silver at 74 kg., David McFadden won silver at 79 kg. and Myles Martin won bronze at 86 kg. 
With nine medals in all on Sunday, Team USA closes out the Matteo Pellicone with 15 total medals. The Pellicone is a United World Wrestling (UWW) Ranking Series event. The first such event of 2021, the Pellicone will an important meet that will go toward seeding at the world championships in October.

Todd Kortemeier is a sportswriter, editor and children’s book author from Minneapolis. He is a contributor to on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.