Kayla Miracle at the 2021 World Championships (photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
The final piece of the 2022 Senior World Team puzzle was put into place this afternoon as USA Wrestling determined its 62 kg representative in women's freestyle. This wrestle-off was pushed back to August because of a knee injury suffered by returning representative Kayla Miracle. She and Jennifer Rogers were entangled in a back-and-forth three-match series before a winner was decided. When it was all said and done, Miracle came out on top, but not after a scare in the opening bout and a deficit in the final contest.
Match one started with a failed arm throw attempt from Miracle. Rogers was able to keep her weight back and ended up with the first takedown of the bout and a 2-0 lead. Miracle quickly rebounded with a takedown of her own with a sweep single and a takedown for two points. As the first period ensued, it became apparent that Miracle was laboring through the bout. Rogers regained the lead with a score off a single leg herself. She was close to another takedown in the waning second of the opening stanza, but was able to garner one from a push-out.
Rogers' scrambling ability was the difference-maker in the second period. After a prolonged scramble, Rogers finally secured a takedown, followed immediately by a pair for exposure. The NLWC star put the finishing touches on a match-one win with a four-pointer, during another scramble. That put the margin at 11-points and resulted in a match termination. Rogers had a commanding 1-0 lead in the series after a 13-2 victory.
The second bout was the opposite of the first. Miracle came out firing right away and almost ended the match with an early fall after a dump. Even so, the 2021 World silver medalist held a commanding 4-0 lead, which she added to with a gut wrench. Miracle looked to extend her advantage with another gut attempt, but Rogers stepped over for two points of her own.
Miracle continued to pour it on with another leg attack, which resulted in two more points after getting exposure while attempting to finish. A leg lace made the score 10-2. Facing an eight-point deficit, Rogers tried an arm throw, but it was Miracle who scored a takedown with pushed the bout into tech range, 12-2.
The Miracle win set up a third, winner-take-all contest from Lancaster's McCaskey high school. Miracle tried to get on the board quickly with a pair of arm throw attempts. One was ruled a slip, while the other resulted in a stalemate. Once Miracle was deemed passive and put on the shot clock, it was Rogers who broke the tie with a takedown followed by a point for the shot clock violation.
Rogers looked to be coasting to a win and her spot on the world team, however, Miracle kept pushing and the two were engaged in a funky position near the edge. Miracle hipped over and forced Rogers' back to the mat for four points, at the edge. That proved to be the difference as Miracle prevailed 5-3 and earned her fourth Senior World/Olympic team berth.