With history on the line, Sydnee Kimber went for broke. And it paid off. Big time.
The McKendree University senior wrestler from Sitka used a headlock takedown in the final 30 seconds of Saturday’s title match to pin Traeh Haynes of North Central and win the 191-pound weight class at the National Collegiate Women’s Wrestling Championships in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
With the win, Kimber finished the season 28-1 and avenged a loss to Haynes in February that snapped her 69-match winning streak.
Haynes had upset Kimber in the regional finals, winning on a tiebreaker when Kimber had been cautioned out. It wasn’t just her first loss in three years, but it was the first time anybody had scored a point against the Alaskan in two years.
Haynes, a sophomore from Texas, was in position to beat Kimber again on Saturday as she was winning the second period before Kimber flipped the script by flipping Haynes to the mat.
“I never hit that move a single day in my life, but today it happened and I’m glad it did,” Kimber told flowrestling.com.
— Women’s Collegiate Wrestling Coalition (@WCWCoalition_) March 5, 2023
Kimber’s pin came at the 5:27 mark of the 6-minute match, securing her record fourth national title.
“This is a pretty big deal, especially coming from Alaska,” Kimber said. “The last Alaskan to get this close was Michaela Hutchinson a long time ago, so to join the likes of her is pretty amazing.”
Hutchinson, of Soldotna, won three national titles at Oklahoma City between 2009 and 2012 and is Alaska’s all-time winningest college wrestler with 141 wins. In 2006, Hutchinson became the nation’s first girl to win a state high school championship against boys.
Kimber finished her legendary Bearcats career with a 103-5 record; that after going 90-0 in high school. In 2017, Kimber became Alaska’s first four-time state champion in girls wrestling.
Alaska Wrestlers with 100 College Wins
142 – Michaela Hutchison (Skyview) Oklahoma City
112 – Cayle Byers (Chugiak) Oklahoma St/George Mason
107 – Scott Norton (Kodiak) Oregon
103 – Sydnee Kimber (Mt. Edgecumbe) McKendree
Two stars from McKendree became the first four-time NCWWC champions, Emily Shilson and Kimber.
McKendree coach Alexio Garcia was so excited after Kimber’s win that he jumped into her arms as she walked off the mat.
“That was definitely not planned,” Kimber said. “I wasn’t quite ready for that one, but I’m glad I caught him. He’d kill me if I dropped him for sure.”
Kimber plans to return to McKendree next season as a graduate assistant as she trains for the Olympics in 2024.
- Colorado Mesa sophomore Jayleen Sekona of Anchorage earned All-American honors for the second straight year after she placed fifth at 191 pounds in one of the tougher weight classes in the tournament. The former South standout defeated Destiny Baliterra of Limestone by pin at 1:28 before falling to Katja Osteen of Simon Fraser 2-1 in the quarterfinals. She bounced back with a 10-0 technical fall win over Tayana Labady of Elmira to advance to the medal rounds. She was awarded a medical forfeit in the fifth-place match.
- Second-ranked North Central won its first national title as a team with 198 points, followed by King (163) and McKendree (147). The Cardinals set a program record for All-Americans with 15 while claiming three individual titles. North Central features Anchorage’s Shelby Ottum, a 143-pound junior out of South.