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  • Photo: Sam Janicki

    Photo: Sam Janicki

    Miracle vs. Rogers Wrestle-Off Preview

    Jennifer Rogers (left) and Kayla Miracle (photos courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)

    Saturday afternoon in Lancaster, Pennsylvania will be the site for the final piece of the Senior World Team puzzle as Kayla Miracle and Jennifer Rogers square off to determine the world team representative at 62 kg in women's freestyle. Both are veterans who are quite capable of coming home from Serbia with a medal; however, there can be only one! As is the case with all matches conducted at Final X, this will be handled in a best-of-three format. This series was originally slated to take place in New York, but Miracle and her team requested it be pushed back due to an injury.

    History: You don't have to look very far to find a recent meeting between these two women. Miracle and Rogers met in the finals of the 2022 US Open less than four months ago. Even though she didn't "have" to wrestle at the Open, Miracle entered for mat time and the feel of preparing for a major tournament. A silver medal at the 2021 World Championships locked up a spot in Final X for Miracle; however, she wrestled at the Open anyways.

    In the match itself, Miracle quickly fired off a sweep single and deliberately looked for a finish. Once Rogers hung her head, momentarily, Miracle locked up a cradle and got a fall. The entire match took only :18.

    The pair found themselves together in the same bracket at two major trials events in 2021, but never met head-to-head. Miracle set in the finals of the Olympic Team Trials, while Rogers fell in the semifinals of the challenge tournament to Maya Nelson.

    After the Olympics, both were in the 62 kg World Team Trials. Once again, Rogers advanced to the semifinals, but was knocked off by past world medalist Mallory Velte. Like at the Olympic Trials Challenge Tournament, Rogers wrestled back for third place.

    Miracle: Kayla came onto the scene as a child prodigy winning three medals at the age-group level, before wrestling for her father, Lee, at Campbellsville University. While at Campbellsville, Miracle rolled to four national titles and was a central figure in the Tigers WCWA National Championship. Along the way, Miracle made a pair of U23 World Teams, coming up a match shy of placing on two occasions. 2019 proved to be a breakthrough year for Miracle, as she made her first Senior World Team and captured a silver medal at U23 worlds. Since, Miracle has put some distance between herself and most of the competitors domestically in the 62 kg class. After missing out on an Olympic medal, Miracle got her first pierce of Senior level world hardware when she made the finals of the 2021 World Championships.

    Along the way, Miracle has been a key player in the development of RTC's at the women's Senior level. She left Campbellsville for the University of Iowa's Hawkeye Wrestling Club and competed under the watchful eye of Mark Perry. Both have since moved on to Arizona State, where Perry and the Sunkist Kids have assembled a deep arsenal of talented Senior level women.

    Rogers: Jennifer has been competing on the Senior level for more than a decade. While Junior eligible, Rogers earned medals at the Dave Schultz and NYAC and was a member of the World Cup team. Roger made a pair of Junior World teams (2011 and 2012) and came away with a bronze medal in her second trip. In 2015, Rogers captured her first title at an international event when she grabbed gold at the Pan-American Championships. Six years later, she'd do it again.

    In between Pan-Am titles, Rogers dealt with a variety of injuries and spent significant time on the shelf. Since she has moved on to the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club and has been rejuvenated as a key player domestically. In 2020 and 2021, Rogers won US Open/Senior National titles and was featured on NLWC cards.

    The finals appearance at the 2022 Open locked up a spot for Rogers in the World Team Trials a few weeks later in Coralville, Iowa. After a quarterfinal bye, Rogers needed just over two minutes to dispose of Emmily Patneaud (10-0), which locked up a spot in the best-of-three finals. Opposite Rogers was Macey Kilty, a 2020 Olympic Team Trials finalist, who took a match from Kayla Miracle. Unfortunately, like at the Olympic Trials, Kilty was injured early in the opening period of match one against Rogers and could not continue. That gave Rogers the victory and put her in Final X opposite Miracle.

    Summary: Miracle has to be considered a significant favorite here. I wouldn't necessarily expect an :18 second match like the Open finals, though. Rogers is seasoned and talented enough to push Miracle, especially if she's not 100%. If Rogers can keep it close in match one, we'll see if any time off the mat or any lingering injuries affect Miracle's conditioning.

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