by Robbie Bills
Cameron Perry’s wrestling summer to remember continued with a silver medal at the Junior Pan-American Games in Santiago, Chile, July 12.
Although, he might want to forget the calls that went against him in the gold-medal finals.
Perry’s second-place finish came in Greco-Roman competition that required him to wrestle in the 60-kilogram (132 pound) weight class — the heaviest weight class he has participated in this summer.
“I was surprised I placed that high,” Perry said. “Especially since I had to bump up to the 60 kg. weight class. But, I still had to cut about 5 pounds to get to that weight, so I was happy I was a little heavier.”
Perry was the only high school wrestler on the United States’ 10-man roster, as the remaining nine slots were filled by college grapplers.
Wrestlers were not seeded in advance of the tournament, but instead were seeded randomly. Perry drew the top seed and received a first round bye.
With a seven-man bracket, Perry wrestled his first match in the semifinals and defeated Sixto Pedragas of Peru by technical fall, 7-0. Perry scored the victory-clinching point in the second round and the match was promptly stopped.
In a hotly contested finals match, Perry faced Ender Parra of Venezuela. Two questionable calls ended Perry’s chance at a gold medal.
Instead of leading 12-9 late in the match, his advantage was trimmed to 10-9. And in the final second of the match, the referee deemed that Parra gained exposure, meaning Perry’s shoulders were tilted less than 90 degrees toward the mat.
“He never got exposure on me. My stomach was facing the mat the whole time,” Perry protested.
The call evened the score and because Parra scored the final point of the contest, he was awarded the victory and the gold medal.
Perry also took issue with the omission of points which led to the tie.
“I got a two-point takedown and the scorekeeper never gave it to me. The referee and mat judge confirmed it but I never got two points for it,” Perry explained.
Perry was unable to challenge the call because his corner had already used their challenge when Parra was incorrectly awarded two points in the first period.
Perry noted his takedown came during a scramble where both wrestlers were fighting for position. Because the scorekeeper never recorded the takedown, there was little that could be argued.
“I think the scorekeeper lost track (of the action) and just never gave me those two points, so they didn’t have anything to go back and look at. I was pretty mad because I knew I had won,” Perry said.
Despite the unfavorable rulings, Perry said he enjoyed the games and they gave him hope for the future.
“The experience was unreal. Knowing that I’m on team U.S.A. and the only guy in my weight class — I’m a national team member. I don’t know, I’ve always wanted to be in the Olympics and this experience made it seem more like a possibility — like it could come true,” he said.
Perry also participated in freestyle and placed fifth.
He indicated that wrestling in a handful of national tournaments this summer has increased his aggressiveness, especially when standing in the neutral position. He hopes to share some of his Greco-Roman and freestyle knowledge with his GHS teammates who attend out-of-season events.
Perry has over 10 colleges vying for his services, and he said the University of Virginia is currently his top school.
Perry’s match versus Parra can be viewed online at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFdiGijA914.