By Karen Price | Sept. 18, 2019, 10:53 a.m. (ET)

Jacarra Winchester celebrating her gold-medal win in the women's 55 kg. finals at the 2019 World Wrestling Championships on Sept. 18, 2019 in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.

 

In just her second world championships, wrestler Jacarra Winchester has herself a gold medal and will work toward what she hopes is her Olympic debut as the world champion.

The 26-year-old from San Lorenzo, California, who now calls Colorado Springs, Colorado, home defeated Japan’s Nanami Irie for the title in the 55 kg. class, 5-3, on Wednesday in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.

Winchester opened with a single leg to take a 2-0 lead early in the bout, and that’s where the score stood at the end of the first period. Irie tied it, but Winchester executed a single leg takedown to take a 4-3 lead with just over one minute remaining. Despite multiple attacks by the 2015 junior world champion, Winchester held strong to claim her first senior world championship medal.

She very nearly had one in her debut at last year’s world championships but lost her semifinal bout by one point. Winchester then fell in the bronze medal bout against Lianna Montero Herrera of Cuba, 5-2, to finish in fifth place.

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The No. 3 seed is now the first world champion for the U.S. at this year’s event. Winchester defeated Kyrgyzstan’s Madina Nadirova, 10-0, to advance to the quarterfinals where she defeated Mongolia’s Bat-Ochiryn Bolortuyaa, 13-2. She then booked her place in the final by topping Bediha Gun of Turkey, 6-4.

Winchester is the top-ranked U.S. wrestler in her class as well as the 2018 and 2019 Final X champion, the 2018 and 2019 U.S. Open champion, the 2018 World Team Trials Challenge Tournament champion and the 2019 Dave Schultz Memorial International champion.

The former Missouri Valley College wrestler made her first senior national team in 2014 at 58 kg. She moved to the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in 2015. Shortly after, she injured her knee, and, despite nine months of rehab in order to prepare for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Wrestling, she was unable to compete.

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.