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    Miracle Takes 4th at Olympic Trials




    IOWA CITY, Iowa — Kayla Miracle is studying education at Campbellsville (Ky.) University.

    The Culver Academies graduate knows about learning.

    Miracle, 19, learned more about her herself while preparing for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team Trials.

    And while she came away from the event Saturday, April 9, at the University of Iowa’s Carver-Hawkeye Arena with a 3-2 mark, fourth place at 58 kg (127.75 pounds) and disappointment, she also saw the positive in her performance and started looking toward her mat future.

    Miracle, a Campbellsville sophomore who counts father Lee as her head coach, pinned Axa Molina (age 22) in 2:59 and beat Randi Beltz (25) 8-3 before losing 6-4 to national champion Alli Ragan (23) in the winners' bracket.

    With her chances at the Rio Olympics gone (only the champion moved on), Miracle beat Jenna Burkert (22) 10-5 before losing 12-4 to Beltz in the fourth-place match.

    “I feel like I’m ready technically to be with these girls,” Miracle said. “But there’s so much more. There’s the mental side and the game planning. I’ve never really had to gameplan for a match. I need to do that so I know exactly what I need to do.

    “I just need to continue to develop. I’ve gotten so much better. I’ve made so many great strides.”

    Miracle, who turns 20 on April 26, said she “took a really bad shot” near the end of the match against Ragan.

    “I don’t know what was going through my mind,” Miracle said. “I just dove in.

    “I had like 45 seconds left, so I had plenty of time to set up the perfect shot and score. Even 40 seconds seems like five hours.”

    The freestyle matches were contested with two three-minute periods and criteria was used to break ties.

    After dominating Beltz earlier in the day, Miracle was not able to duplicate her result in the rematch.

    “I just wasn’t myself,” Miracle said. “I went against all these tough girls all day and then I just bogged down.”

    She said she also let a tweak to her back get the best of her.

    “I don’t know what was going on with my head,” Miracle said. “(Finishing in the top three) was definitely important because it would have put me on the senior national team and I would get to train with these girls.

    “I just lose a lot of respect for people who drop out after they lose. If you’re going to retire as an Olympic athlete, that’s different. But if you’re still and up-and-coming athlete, you can still get third and be on the national team. To forfeit is far worse.”

    Miracle, who came into Iowa City with University Nationals and Dave Schultz Memorial International championships on her 2016 resume, sees herself being in the 2020 Olympic Team Trials with a shot at the Tokyo Games.

    “I won’t be satisfied until I’m on top of that Olympic podium,” Miracle said. “I had a goal and I didn’t meet it. But give me four years and I’ll be back.”

    But her immediate focus will now turn to getting ready for University Worlds and Junior Olympic Trials and, of course, her studies back in Kentucky.

    Saturday’s two Olympic Trials sessions drew 21,922 fans (11,067 for the finals).

    Sunday’s action from Carver-Hawkeye Area will air on NBC Sports Network on a tape-delay basis starting at 9:30 p.m. (CDT). All matches will be streamed live on the Internet at NBCOlympics.com.

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