Two-time world finalist Kayla Miracle (photo courtesy of Kadir Caliskan/UWW)
Almost a month to the day of her special wrestle-off for the 62 kg slot on the women's world team, Kayla Miracle clinched her second consecutive world finals berth. Going back to August, another world medal seemed like it could be a longshot, as Miracle had to delay her Final X match with Jennifer Rogers and was pushed to the brink in her three-match series. Seeing how Miracle generally had to gut out some wins on Monday, maybe the challenge from Rogers in her wrestle-off was the best thing for Miracle.
Miracle's day started off with a 17-6 tech over Xiaojun Luo (China) that was much closer on the mat than it appears on paper. Trailing by a point in the second period, Miracle fended off a leg attack from Luo and locked up a cradle. From there, the rest of the match was all Miracle as things snowballed against Luo.
A 6-1 over Azerbaijan's Tetiana Omelchenko set the stage for today's semifinal against Canada's Ana Godinez-Gonzalez. Miracle and Godinez-Gonzalez had met twice previously, with Miracle getting both wins, the most recent of which came at February's Bout at the Ballpark.
In this contest, Godinez-Gonzales got off to an early lead with a takedown and a third point following a lost challenge. There was no panic in Miracle as she shot and landed her trademark dump. That maneuver took Godinez-Gonzalez directly to her back where she'd never leave. After a bit of a fight, Miracle secured the fall at 1:37.
In the finals, Miracle will meet Japan's Nonoka Ozaki. Ozaki defeated Miracle's 2021 world finals opponent Aisuluu Tynybekova (Krygyzstan), 11-5 to get to the gold medal match. Ozaki, a 2022 U20 World Champion, fell to Tynybekova last year at Senior Worlds, but rebounded to take bronze.
Bronze is what the other woman who took the mat for the American team, Jacarra Winchester, will chase tomorrow. Winchester notched a pair of wins, which placed her in the world semifinals. There she met a buzzsaw in Japan's Mayu Mukaida and fell 12-0 in the opening period.
Tomorrow's repechage round will sort out Winchester's opponent. Three others will compete for the chance to challenge the 2019 world champion. This will be the fourth consecutive world/Olympic tournament in which Winchester has competed for a medal. She lost in the bronze medal match at the 2018 World Championships and at the 2020 Olympics.
In addition to the women's team, Greco-Roman wrestlers Ildar Hafizov (60 kg) and Cohlton Schultz (130 kg) also were in action for the first time. Both were victorious in the opening match, but Schultz was defeated in their second. Hafizov advanced to the quarterfinals and lost, but was pulled into repechage after Zholman Sharshenbekov (Kyrgyzstan) made the finals. He'll need to win two matches to secure his first world medal. If Hafizov can beat Krisztian Kecskemeti (Hungary), he'll challenge Aidos Sultangali (Kazakhstan) for the bronze.
2022 Senior World Championship American Results
60 kg Greco-Roman
Qualification: Ildar Hafizov over Dichter Toro Castaneda (Colombia) 9-6
Round of 16: Ildar Hafizov over Michal Tracz (Poland) 7-1
Quarterfinals: Zholman Sharshenbekov (Kyrgyzstan) over Ildar Hafizov Fall :45
130 kg Greco-Roman
Qualification: Cohlton Schultz over David Ovasapyan (Armenia) 1-1
Round of 16: Oscar Marvik (Norway) over Cohlton Schultz 5-0
55 kg Women's Freestyle
Round of 16: Jacarra Winchester over Otgonjargal Ganbaatar (Mongolia) 8-3
Quarterfinals: Jacarra Winchester over Roksana Zasina (Poland) 4-2
Semifinals: Mayu Mukaida (Japan) over Jacarra Winchester 12-0
62 kg Women's Freestyle
Round of 16: Kayla Miracle over Xiaojun Luo (China) 17-6
Quarterfinals: Kayla Miracle over Tetiana Omelchenko (Azerbaijan) 6-1
Semifinals: Kayla Miracle over Ana Godinez-Gonzalez (Canada) Fall 1:37