The Patricia Miranda Medal aims to honor one outstanding athlete from the Women’s College Wrestling Association (WCWA) each year who embodies the spirit of the pioneers who came before them. A panel of voters that includes each of the past four-time WCWA champions, Helen Maroulis, Victoria Anthony, and Emily Webster in addition to representation from the media selected a winner based on four criteria: record, dominance, past credentials, and additional accomplishments.
TOM is proud to announce the inaugural winner of the Patricia Miranda Medal is Kayla Miracle of Campbellsville University. Miracle was undefeated in WCWA matches during her senior campaign despite wrestling as high as 155 pounds to help her team win their first National Duals title. Kayla dominated the vast majority of her opposition culminating in a masterful performance at the WCWA National Championships during which she opened with a shutout tech, then pinned her final three opponents en route to the national title at 136 pounds. That title was her fourth, joining the three women listed above as the only four-time champions in WCWA history.
When asked what it meant to her to be recognized by a group that included the other four-timers, Miracle responded, “It feels so awesome to be recognized by them! They really set the bar high when they won their four titles, so to join them is one thing, but for them to help in selecting me for the Patricia Miranda Medal is just an honor! Helen has obviously gone on to do some pretty remarkable things since she left the college scene. She isn’t just winning world and Olympic titles, but she is doing it in such dominant fashion, which is something I strive to do. I’ve also gotten to be on some teams and trips with Victoria, and just learning that her mindset for matches and practice is to just be the best her possible, and constantly working to evolve is something that I also try to do. I remember my freshman year, I watched Emily win her fourth title with a busted up knee. Just that grit and will to go through the pain to get the job done was inspiring to me. I saw the fourth title happen and knew it was possible and it might not be pretty, but you just have to get the job done no matter what might happen. I’ve learned a lot from all 3 of them and I respect each of them so much. So to be watched and recognized by them makes me so thankful and honored.”
Miracle’s individual accomplishments pushed her team to new heights. In the program’s fifth year of existence, they found themselves in a tight team race with traditional power Simon Fraser. Kayla’s bonus points and the strong team around her kept the Tigers in the hunt and when Miracle won the final match of the tournament to claim her historic crown, it also pushed Campbellsville over the top for the school’s sixth national title in any sport and first in women’s wrestling.
The runner-up in this year’s voting was Marina Doi (King) who reached her fourth consecutive WCWA national final but eschewed a chance to wrestle for her third title, instead opting to concede the victory to her twin sister Regina, herself a four-time All-American. The two had met in last year’s national final at 101 pounds as well. Their incredible post-match interview can be found here.
This year 32 teams were represented at the WCWA National Championships, a number that will continue to grow in the coming years. While there are plenty of people who deserve credit for how far the sport has come, it could not have happened without pioneers such as Patricia Miranda. Before wrestling on a women’s team in college was an option, Miranda wrestled on the men’s team at Stanford, continuing to battle as an undersized 125 pounder while also being one of the best 48/51 kg women’s freestylers in the world. She earned a pair of World Championship silver medals before wrestling in the first ever medal match for women in the sport at the Olympic Games, winning to secure bronze in 2004. Patricia would go on to earn a fourth world-level medal with another bronze in 2006. Today, Miranda, a graduate of the Yale Law School, specializes in immigration law, helping qualified candidates attain asylum in the United States. Her continued commitment to principled living speaks well of, as she says, “the character revelation and building that college wrestling can help young people obtain.”