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Miracle earns spot on U.S. world championship team; Burkert wins decisive third bout

Maya Nelson controls Megan Black in the finals at 59 kg in women’s freestyle at the U.S. World Team trials. (Photo courtesy Sam Janicki /

Courtesy USA Wrestling

Six women will wrestle for the United States for the first time at the upcoming world championships in freestyle after earning spots on the team Sunday at the U.S. World Team trials in Lincoln Nebraska.

The winners join four Tokyo Olympic medalists from the USA to form the 10-athlete team competing in Oslo, Norway, October 2-10.

Kayla Miracle of Sunkist Kids represented the U.S. at the Olympics in Tokyo but didn’t medal so she had to earn her way onto the world championship team. Miracle beat Mallory Velte, a 2018 world championship bronze medalist in two matches at 62 kg. Miracle won the first bout, 5-3, but was able to open up her offense in a 10-2 victory in bout two.

Making her fourth appearance at the world championships will be Jenna Burkert of Army WCAP, who needed three full matches to defeat 2019 world champion and 2020 Olympian Jacarra Winchester of the Titan Mercury WC at 55 kg. All three bouts were close, with exciting finishes.

With a late four-point move in the first match, Burkert pulled out a 7-6 win in bout one. Winchester powered back with a late takedown in the second match for a razor-thin 9-8 win. Burkert trailed in the deciding third match, but scored a takedown with only a few seconds to go for a 4-3 win and the berth on the U.S. team.

Forrest Molinari of the Sunkist Kids, who had a two-match sweep over Emma Bruntil of the Titan Mercury WC/Bearcat WC at 65 kg, to earn her third trip to the world championships. Molinari had to battle from behind to win the first match late, 4-3. In the second match, she came out hard and took early control, cruising to a 9-0 decision. Molinari has placed fifth in the World Championships two times.

Amy Fearnside of Titan Mercury WC/USOPTC at 53 kg, Maya Nelson of the Sunkist Kids or Megan Black of Army WCAP at 59 kg and Kylie Welker of the Titan Mercury WC at 72 kg each earned her first invitation to compete at the world championships with a victory in their respective weight classes.

Fearnside was able to break through after a number of years in contention. She earned a close 5-3 win in the first bout against No. 1 seed Ronna Heaton, and followed it up with a pin in the second match in 3:29 to punch her ticket to Oslo.

Nelson, a 2017 Junior world champion, needed just two bouts to defeat Megan Black of the Army WCAP in the finals series. Nelson came through with a 5-4 victory in bout one, but was in control in the second bout, ending it with a pin in 5:13

In a battle of high school super stars and 2021 Junior world champions, Welker defeated Kennedy Blades of the Sunkist Kids in two straight matches. Welker won a tight 4-4 match in bout one, and was leading in the second bout when Blades was injured and could not continue. The two met at the 2021 Last Chance Olympic Qualifier, with Blades getting the victory

Four 2020 Olympic medalists have chosen to compete at the world championships: Olympic champion Tamyra Mensah Stock at 68 kg, Olympic silver medalist Adeline Gray at 76 kg, Olympic bronze medalist Sarah Hildebrandt at 50 kg and 2016 Olympic champion and 2020 Olympic bronze medalist Helen Maroulis at 57 kg.

2021 U.S. World Team trials
At Lincoln, Nebraska
Women’s freestyle championship series results

53 kg
1st – Amy Fearnside (Titan Mercury WC/USOPTC) dec. Ronna Heaton (Sunkist Kids), 2-0
Bout One – Fearnside dec. Heaton, 5-3
Bout Two – Fearnside dec. Heaton, 3:29
3rd – Arena Villaescusa (Army WCAP) by forfeit over Alyssa Lampe (Sunkist Kids)

55 kg
1st – Jenna Burkert (Army WCAP) dec. Jacarra Winchester (Titan Mercury WC/USOPTC), 2-1
Bout One –Burkert dec. Winchester, 7-6
Bout Two – Winchester dec. Burkert, 9-8
Bout Three – Burkert dec. Winchester, 4-3
3rd – Marissa Gallegos (Colorado Mesa WC) pin Amanda Martinez (Cardinal WC), 4:49

59 kg
1st – Maya Nelson (Sunkist Kids) dec. Megan Black (Army WCAP), 2-0
Bout One –Nelson dec. Black, 5-4
Bout Two – Nelson pin Black, 5:13
3rd – Xochilt Mota-Pettis (Rise RTC) tech. fall Michaela Beck (Sunkist Kids), 10-0, 1:59

62 kg
1st – Kayla Miracle (Sunkist Kids) dec. Mallory Velte (Titan Mercury WC/Beaver Dam RTC), 2-0
Bout One – Miracle dec. Velte, 5-3
Bout Two – Miracle dec. Velte, 10-2
3rd – Jennifer Page (Titan Mercury WC/NLWC) dec. Gracie Figueroa (Titan Mercury WC), 8-6

65 kg
1st – Forrest Molinari (Sunkist Kids) dec. Emma Bruntil (Titan Mercury WC/Bearcat WC), 2-0
Bout One – Molinari dec. Bruntil, 4-3
Bout Two – Molinari dec. Bruntil, 9-0
3rd – Alara Boyd (McKendree Bearcat WC) dec. Skylar Grote (NYAC/Beaver Dam RTC), 7-4

72 kg
1st – Kylie Welker (Titan Mercury WC) dec. Kennedy Blades (Sunkist Kids), 2-0
Bout One – Welker dec. Blades, 4-4
Bout Two – Welker inj. dft. Blades, 4:02
3rd – Yelena Makoyed (Cardinal WC) dec. Dymond Guilford (Titan Mercury WC/USOPTC), 10-8

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