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Miracle earns World silver; Winchester suffers heartbreak in bronze-medal bout
Photo: Kayla Miracle (left) posed with Japan’s gold medalist medalist Nonoka Ozaki who forced the American to settle for a second straight World silver medal at 62 kilos. Jacarra Winchester (right) suffered a disappointing bronze-medal loss to China’s Mengyu Xie at 55 kilos in women’s freestyle. (Justin Hoch photos)
By Mike Finn
Kayla Miracle captured the United States’ first medal of the 2022 UWW World Championships when the native of Indiana earned a silver medal in women’s freestyle Tuesday in Belgrade, Serbia, where fellow American Jacarra Winchester suffered heartbreak in a bronze-medal bout.
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Ozaki, who finished third in the 2021 Worlds, needed 21 seconds to score a takedown, then used a leg-lace to lead 4-0 about 10 seconds later. Another leg-lace exposed the American again, before Ozaki eventually tallied two more takedowns on Miracle.
Meanwhile, Jacarra Winchester, a 2019 World champ, had a chance to earn a second World medal but lost her bronze-medal bout at 55 kilos but the 29-year-old native of San Lorenzo, Calif., suffered a tough loss to China’s Mengyu Xie. It was an odd match where officials first ruled the American had won by 10-0 technical superiority two minutes into the bout before a video challenge kept the match going. Despite this, it appeared Winchester would still win before Xie rallied to pin Winchester with a minute left.
These two weights were the first of 10 matches that will be held in women’s freestyle over four days in Stark Arena. Four other weights began on Tuesday and three Americans earned spots in Wednesday’s medal round: Dom Parrish will go for gold at 53 kilos, while Sarah Hildebrandt (50k) and Mallory Velte (65k) will wrestle for bronze.
The final four women’s weights will start on Wednesday with men’s freestyle taking place between Thursday and Sunday, also in 10 weight classes.
2022 UWW World Championships Women’s Freestyle
U.S. Match Results
55 kg: Jacarra Winchester (Colorado Springs, Colo./USOPTC/Titan Mercury WC) – 5th
1st round – dec. Otgonjargal Ganbaatar (Mongolia), 8-3 — Winchester broke open a 3-3 deadlock when she used an over-under body lock to take the Mongolian to her back with 12 seconds left. Winchester took a 3-0 lead in the first period off a single-leg takedown and got a passivity point against Ganbaatar before she scored her only takedown eight seconds before intermission. The Mongolian tied the match 3-3 when Winchester failed to score on the shot clock with 1:29 left in the bout.
Quarterfinal – dec. Roksana Zasina (Poland), 4-2 – The only takedown of the bout, a snap down by Winchester 38 seconds into the match, gave her a 2-0 lead before adding a stepout and passivity point with a minute left. The Pole earned her points when Winchester was charged with a caution-and-2 with seven seconds left.
Semifinal – lost by TF to Mayu Shidochi Mukaida (Japan), 12-0, 2:10 – Mukaida scored three takedowns, including a high crotch 70 seconds into the match that led to a pair of leg-laces which led to an 8-0 lead with 1:35 left in the first period. The Japanese wrestler and eventual champ ended this match on a blast double that put Winchester on her back with 50 seconds left in the first frame.
Bronze Medal – lost by fall to Mengyu Xie, 4:56 – Twice it appeared that Winchester was heading for a dominating win, including with 1:52 left when a third takedown gave the American a 12-4 lead. But the Chinese wrestler, countering a gut by Winchester, quickly reversed the American and took her back and held her there for nearly 30 seconds before she scored the fall. Earlier, officials ruled Winchester had won by 10-0 technical superiority two minutes into the match after a pair of four-point exposure moves. But, a video replay on the second scoring sequence changed the score to 8-4.
62 kg: Kayla Miracle (Tempe, Ariz./Sunkist Kids) – silver
1st round – won by TF over Xiaojuan Luo (China), 17-6 – Trailing 6-5 with two minutes left in the match, Miracle blew it open by scoring three of her four takedowns the rest of the way, including when she countered a single and put Luo in a reverse cradle. Her final two takedowns in the final 28 seconds put the Chinese wrestler on her back each time.
Quarterfinal – dec. Tetiana Omelchenko (Azerbaijan), 6-1 – Miracle was leading just 2-1 when she exploded with a pair of high-crotch singles in the final 41 seconds.
Semifinal – pinned Ana Godinez (Canada), 1:37 – Trailing 3-0, after a strong double by the Canadian 35 seconds into the match, Miracle executed a fireman’s carry at the 4:35 mark that put the Canadian on her back and led to the fall 13 seconds later.
Gold Medal – lost by TF to Nonoka Ozaki (Japan), 10-0, 2:27 – Ozaki, who finished third in the 2021 Worlds, needed 21 seconds to score a takedown, then used a leg-lace to lead 4-0 about 10 seconds later. Another leg-lace exposed the American again, before Ozaki eventually tallied two more takedowns on Miracle.