It stands to reason that Clayton Pye will win grappling gold his next time competing at the Pan-American championships.
The 26-year-old Stratford Northwestern alum from Ingersoll recently settled for silver in Guatemala City after facing world champion American David Taylor in the 86-kilogram division final.
“That would be nice, right?” Pye said Monday. “Get the (medal) trinity, for sure.
“I kind of went in with that idea in mind – that I’d like to get at least one higher than I got last year.”
Pye had a favourable draw at the 2021 Pan-Ams, avoiding the front-runner until his last match.
The final-year Brock University student opened with a pair of dominant victories over opponents from Brazil and Argentina.
“I was happy about that and worked on some moves I’ve only been doing in practice and haven’t hit live,” he said.
Pye was also able to use many of his signature moves that have catapulted him into Olympic contention on the Canadian wrestling circuit, but he needed more against Taylor, a world champ who scored a technical victory (up 10 points or more) less than a minute into the gold-medal match.
“I was a little bit disappointed in how the match went,” Pye said. “I wanted it to go longer to feel him out a bit and test my mettle against his, but that’s how it goes when you’re wrestling against guys who have been doing it their whole life.”
Taylor caught Pye’s attempted arm bar and put the Canadian on his back. Usually it would be deemed a mid-throw, Pye said, and the wrestlers would be stood back up, but Taylor was awarded four points and piled on with ground moves.
“When you’re wrestling someone like David Taylor, the refs are going to give him the benefit of the doubt on a lot of those things,” he said. “I have to be better next time and not make mistakes.”
Despite the loss, Pye feels he’s “on the right path.”
“I made a bad mistake, and he capitalized on the ground,” he said. “I’d just like to stay in longer with somebody like that. I’d obviously like to win, which is why I go for those big moves, but there’s risk there, so maybe next time I’ll try to stand with him more and feel him out.”
Pye is already looking ahead. He’s headed to Italy Tuesday for a tournament and training camp with international competition, and will then go to Turkey for another event before returning to his home near St. Catharines at the end of the month.
“I want to wrestle well,” he said. “It would be cool to podium again, but the main thing is to keep learning and keep getting better. It’s me testing myself against international competition. I haven’t been on the international scene very long, and I got more into it during covid times, so it hasn’t given me a huge amount of opportunity to compete internationally and learn how other people wrestle.
“You can tell a lot of these wrestlers from the superpower wrestling countries have been doing it since they were kids. They know every variation and move and are thinking two steps ahead of whatever move you’re trying to do.”
Pye plans to spend the summer preparing for his first world championships Oct. 2 to Oct. 10 in Norway.
“Wrestling really is a sport about getting experience and connecting those technical dots in your head,” he said. “I’m always kind of excited to wrestle. The tournament doesn’t really matter to me. It’s more about the people I’m wrestling and how well I do. The titles don’t make too much of a difference.”