Kennard-Dale High grad wins another Greco-Roman wrestling gold medal at Pan Am Games

Kennard-Dale High School graduate John Stefanowicz is seen here in a file photo.

John Stefanowicz left Guatemala with a gold medal around his neck, but not in the way he imagined.

The Kennard-Dale High School graduate entered the championship bout at the Pan Am Wrestling Championships in a rematch with Honduras' Alfonso Rodriguez with the 87-kilogram (192-pound) Greco-Roman title on the line. It was a rematch of their first-round match, when the wrestlers battled and Rodriguez beat Stefanowicz, 4-3.

Early in the second period of the title match, Stefanowicz forced Rodriguez to step out while trailing, 1-0, and Rodriguez responded by punching Stefanowicz in the face and was disqualified. Stefanowicz went 3-1 over the weekend and shut out his other two opponents.

While the medal is Stefanowicz's first at his new weight, it's not the first gold medal he's won at the Pan Am Games. In 2020, Stefanowicz claimed the 82-kilogram (181-pound) Greco-Roman title in Canada.

The Pan Am event features athletes from North American, South America, Central America and the Caribbean.

Stefanowicz is coming off a victory at U.S. Olympic Team Trials in April that earned him a spot on Team USA for the upcoming Tokyo Summer Olympics. The Pan Am Games were the final major competition headed into the Olympics for Stefanowicz, who likes to get into competitive environments before big events.

“It's all about the environment and being comfortable,” Stefanowicz said in April. “Putting yourself out and be able to take the risks. You get comfortable in a wrestling room where you practice and it's easy to do stuff, and then you get out there on the stages under the lights and everything, and it doesn't quite always work out the same. Most of that is due to the fact that you're not comfortable. I'm trying to look and see, not just about winning, but trying to hit large moves, trying to expand the repertoire pretty much and see what other styles I can incorporate into my own.”

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