MISSISSAUGA, Ontario — Adeline Gray broke a last-second tie to win the women’s 75 kg. freestyle wrestling gold-medal match over Canada’s Justina Di Stasio on a night that saw the U.S. team grab four medals at the Pan American Games.
Gray, along with a gold medal by Brent Metcalf at 65 kg., silver by Angel Escobedo at 57 kg. and bronze by Erin Clodgo at 63 kg. brought USA Wrestling’s medal total to 11 out of 12 weight classes in which its athletes competed.
“The United States is coming in here and taking home hardware,” said Metcalf, who defeated Cuba’s Franklin Maren, 8-2, for his gold medal.
Gray’s 7-6 bout with Di Stasio was easily the night’s biggest nail-biter, and put women’s freestyle wrestling in the spotlight. After her win, the two-time world champion spoke passionately about her role as an ambassador for the sport.
“I’m trying to really take a stand and say that women can be powerful and beautiful,” Gray said. “I really strive for that thing so that I don’t have to lose any of my femininity because I have muscles or because I work hard.
“I’m a big believer in that women should be treated like athletes when they step out on that mat. … If someone is willing to dedicate their life to going out there and being good at something, they should be allowed to go out there and be treated as an athlete.”
Gray, who grew up in Denver, became a junior world champion in 2008 before becoming a full-time resident-athlete at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, just out of high school. There, she trains with the male wrestlers, including those competing in Greco-Roman.
The competitive nature stems from her father, George Gray, a Denver police officer with an athletic background since passed on to his four daughters. Adeline Gray began wrestling at age 6, particularly early for a female, and found a passion she didn’t envision.
“I thought I’d be done with sports by now, but wrestling got a hold of me and I just love it now,” Gray said. “I’ve been so lucky to find this path.”
Friday night’s other golden U.S. wrestler, Metcalf, won gold in the night’s final match after a 10-0 win over Guatemala’s Marbin Miranda and Puerto Rico’s Franklin Gomez, 10-8. Escobedo fell 10-0 in the gold-medal match against Cuba’s Yowlys Bonne after winning 10-0 against Colombia’s Emir Hernandez and 6-0 against Peru’s Pablo Benites.
Clodgo’s bronze was the second medal the U.S. won by an injury default in as many days after Robby Smith (Greco-Roman, 130 kg.) took bronze on Thursday when Venezuela’s Moises Perez bowed out with a leg injury.