Photo: Kayla Miracle takes on Persson of Sweden at U23 World Champiponships. Photo by Andy Hamilton, Trackwrestling.
BYDGOSZCZ, Poland – Americans Kayla Miracle and Amy Fearnside will wrestle for bronze tonight at the respective weight classes at the U23 World Championships on Friday night in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
The two look for USA’s first medals of the event.
“We had calls that didn’t go our way and matches, where we didn’t step up, but I couldn’t be more proud of the way Kayla and Amy wrestled this afternoon to get a spot in the medal match,” U.S. Women’s Freestyle National Assistant Coach Emma Randall said. “There’s a lot of pressure when there’s a drought, so to step up and know that we need a medal is important. To carry that weight is burdensome, but at the same time, it gives you something to fight for.”
In her first match at 60 kg/132 lbs., two-time Junior World bronze medalist and 2017 U.S. National Team member Kayla Miracle (Campbellsville, Ky./Sunkist Kids) escaped Sweden’s Therese Persson, a two-time age-group World medalist.
Persson held off Miracle’s offense in the first period, taking a 1-0 lead into the break. Early in the second period, Miracle scored with a snap down to a go-behind takedown. She was on the board again with less than 10 seconds on the clock whipping Persson over for two-point exposure, sealing a 4-1 victory.
The quarterfinals was a similar situation as Miracle was slow to get to her offense, carrying only a 2-0 lead into the break over 2015 Senior Mediterranean Championships bronze medalist Francesca Indelicato of Italy . In the second period, the American turned it up a notch with three takedowns and a set of exposure points for a 10-0 technical fall.
Miracle went head-to-head against 2011 Cadet World champion Yui Sakano of Japan in the semifinals. The two met earlier this year at the 20th Annual Dave Schultz Memorial International with Miracle taking the win.
This time, Sakano shut down Miracle’s offense, emerging victorious, scoring on passivity, step out and a failed USA challenge for a 3-0 win.
For bronze, Miracle will take on Tatyana Olmechenko of Azerbaijan, who won the Islamic Solidarity Games in May.
“Coming into this tournament, I really didn’t want bronze, but now I’m in a position where it’s the only color I can get, so I’m going to have to take it,” Miracle said. “I’ve been in this exact situation before, so I’m going to try to go in, be eager and excited and get the first medal of our tournament.”
At 53 kg/117 lbs., 2014 University World bronze medalist Amy Fearnside (Colorado Springs, Colo./Titan Mercury) tallied a win by injury default over 2016 Grand Prix of Paris bronze and 2017 Senior World Team member Paula Kozlow of host country, Poland.
Fearnside showed her power in the quarterfinals, shutting out 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games bronze medalist Aigul Nuralim of Kazakhstan.
The first point for the American came on passivity. She added two more at the first-period buzzer on exposure, which wasn’t originally awarded, but USA challenged and won.
In the second period, Fearnside countered a Nuralim single for a takedown and wrapped up the match with a step out for a 6-0 win to advance to the semifinals.
There, she took on Qi Zhang of China, who won bronze at the 2017 Senior Asian Championships.
Out of the gate, Zhang went up 8-0 with a front headlock for four points and two gut wrenches. Fearnside battled back until the last second, but it was not enough as Zhang had her hand raised in an 11-6 victory.
In the bronze-medal match, Fearnside will face 2017 World Military champion Otgonjargal Ganbaatar of Mongolia.
“I’m so pumped,” Fearnside said. “So far it’s been a great day, so I want to keep it up. It feels like I’m on a high right now. I feel great and my coaches are amazing. I think we’re going to make this happen.”
Cody Pfau and Forrest Molinari were unable to qualify for a medal at 48 kg/106 lbs. and 69 kg/152 lbs., respectively.
Two-time WCWA champion and two-time fifth-place finisher at Junior Worlds Pfau (Brush, Colo./Titan Mercury) dropped her tournament opener to 2017 Junior Asian champion Jiang Zhu of China, 11-0.
Zhu stormed out to a 7-0 lead in the beginning seconds, hitting a double off the whistle and throwing Pfau for five points. The Chinese wrestler grabbed another two points on a correct throw. Shortly after, Zhu closed out the match with a takedown and two from exposure on the leg lace.
Zhu lost in a controversial 4-3 finish in the 48 kg semifinals, losing to 2017 Asian Championships bronze medalist Ritu Ritu of India and ending Pfau’s tournament.
Dave Schultz Memorial champion and 2015 Junior World Team member Molinari (Colorado Springs, Colo./Titan Mercury) fell to an early 4-0 deficit against 2011 Cadet World bronze medalist Martina Kuenz of Austria in her opening bout. It was a lead that the American was unable to overcome, eventually losing the bout, 4-1.
Kuenz lost her next match to Naruha Matsuyuki of Japan, who took fifth at this year’s Junior World Championships. The Austrian’s loss brought Molinari’s U23 World Championships to a close.
Miracle and Fearnside will battle for World bronze tonight at 6 p.m. local time (12 p.m. ET).
Fans can find live streams and brackets on Trackwrestling.com.
2017 U23 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
at Bydgoszcz, Poland (Six hours ahead of ET)
Gold - Ritu RITU (IND) vs. Evin DEMIRHAN (TUR)
Bronze - Rina OKUNO (JPN) vs. Turkan NASIROVA (AZE)
Bronze - Miglena Georgieva SELISHKA (BUL) vs. Jiang ZHU (CHN)
Gold - Qi ZHANG (CHN) vs. Miho IGARASHI (JPN)
Bronze - Ekaterina POLESHCHUK (RUS) vs. Khrystyna BEREZA (UKR)
Bronze - Otgonjargal GANBAATAR (MGL) vs. Amy Ann FEARNSIDE (USA)
Gold - Yui SAKANO (JPN) vs. Ilona PROKOPEVNIUK (UKR)
Bronze - Yuliya PISARENKA (BLR) vs. Gantuya ENKHBAT (MGL)
Bronze - Tetiana OMELCHENKO (AZE) vs. Kayla Colleen Kiyoko MIRACLE (USA)
Gold - Naruha MATSUYUKI (JPN) vs. Koumba Selene Fanta LARROQUE (FRA)
Bronze - Yudari SANCHEZ RODRIGUEZ (CUB) vs. Khanum VELIEVA (RUS)
Bronze - Danute DOMIKAITYTE (LTU) vs. Divya KAKRAN (IND)
U.S. women’s freestyle results
48 kg/106 lbs. – Cody Pfau (Brush, Colo./Titan Mercury)
LOSS Jiang Zhu (China), 11-0
53 kg/117 lbs. – Amy Fearnside (Colorado Springs, Colo./Titan Mercury)
WIN Paula Kozlow (Poland), injury default
WIN Aigul Nuralim (Kazakhstan), 6-0
LOSS Qi Zhang (China), 11-6
60 kg/130 lbs. – Kayla Miracle (Campbellsville, Ky./Sunkist Kids)
WIN Therese Persson (Sweden), 4-1
WIN Francesca Indelicato (Italy), 10-0
LOSS Yui Sakano (Japan), 3-0
LOSS Martina Kuenz (Austria), 4-1