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Kaylynn Albrecht: A Texan Wrestler’s Road to the U.S. Olympic Trials

Only weeks away from the biggest wrestling tournament of her life, so far, Kaylynn Albrecht still marvels at what she has accomplished in the sport in her short time on the mat.

The girl who did about every sport she could stumbled upon wrestling in high school and will be competing in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials on April 19-20 in University Park, Penn. 

The Trophy Club Byron Nelson graduate will have a little bit of Texas with her when she wrestles. Her high school coach Carlos Orenelas will be going there to watch her compete. 

Regardless of the outcome, her journey to even be in the position is one of learning to overcome nerves, and losses, letting go and trusting what happens, happens for a reason.

A trip to the Rocky Mountains

Since June of 2023, Albrecht has been a resident of Colorado Springs, Colorado, training at the Olympic Training Center. The transition to get there was a fast one because when last year started she was a student at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas.

She won the NAIA National Championship in a last-second win on March 11 at the first-ever NAIA finals in Jamestown, N.D. 

She used a four-point move in the final seconds to secure a championship — a year after losing in the same round. 

The next month, she won the 72 kg title at theU.S. Marine Corps Women’s National Championships.

At the Senior World Team trials in Colorado Springs, she did well in front of the national coaches. That led to a phone call that changed the trajectory of her wrestling career.

She had to decide if she was going to go back to Baker or take a chance and move to Colorado to join other wrestlers at the training center.

“Really what they look for is like a positive attitude and somebody that can bring something to the table for the room atmosphere,” Albrecht said. “I’ve always been pretty good about that. Coach (Travis) Clark kind of molded me into the kind of wrestler who wants to take the lead in our workouts, make everybody smile and make sure we’re all having a good time. It’s just worked out really well.”

Since moving to Colorado, she’s been having at least two workouts a day, while preparing for matches and tournaments. 

She said not long after she moved there both the men’s and women’s national wrestling teams held camps and she got to see the biggest names in wrestling in the same spot: Forrest Molinari, Dymond Guilford, Jordan Burroughs, Kyle Snyder, Roman Bravo-Young and Kyle Dake to name a few.

“Like, I was starstruck, but also, I’m sitting there thinking I am a part of this mix now,” Albrecht said. “It was kind of empowering honestly, to be able to walk into that room to be able to say that I trained there full-time and I’m a resident there.”

Multi-sport star 

Albrecht isn’t like some of her contemporaries who started wrestling at a young age and grew up with the sport. Instead, she just kind of fell into it by happenstance.

She played basketball, did track and field and played football — a defensive lineman for the Byron Nelson, one of three high schools in the Northwest ISD system.

Her little sister was the one who started wrestling and went to All American Wrestling Club in Keller. Albrecht was more interested in MMA and kickboxing but she said that didn’t last. 

But with a little motivation at school — a substitute teacher who was an assistant wrestling coach told her she’d be good at the sport — she gave it a try. 

“I was like, I can always go back to basketball,” she said after playing her freshman year on the hardwood. 

She used the football background she learned from tackling and those turn into two points ont he mat. Then she just kept on getting better. Eventually, she started going to All American Wrestling Club and learning more. 

“Since the day she walked into the All American WC in high school, Kaylynn had that focus and discipline to work hard and consistently improve everything in her life to help her reach her goals,” said Travis Clark, who runs that program and is also the head coach at Euless Trinity. “There is no doubt that her work ethic is the reason for her success across all levels as she continues to grow as a wrestler and as a person.”

Albrecht got to the point she was pretty good at both wrestling and track and field. She did a little bit of everything for the Bobcats, throwing the shot put and discus, but her main events were the hurdles. 

She was a state qualifier as a sophomore in wrestling and then went to state and took fifth as a junior in wrestling. She followed that up by becoming a finalist at Fargo the summer before her senior year. In her final year, she made the Class 6A 165-pound title. 

“I was planning on going to college for track until I found you could go to college for wrestling, I didn’t even know it was an option,” she said. “I was aware there were different levels but I didn’t have a full understanding of it until a few years ago. I love wrestling and I love keeping up with it but I didn’t truly understand that. Especially, being so close to competing at those levels.”

She and Lexie Basham, who ended up wrestling at Texas Wesleyan, were both finalists for Northwest in 2019. Basham won a state title, while Albrecht lost to Plano West’s Ashley Lekas in her final high school match.

That was a loss, perhaps a defining one, that still lingers. She lost by pin and said she had a ‘weird freakout in front of the entire state of Texas.’

“Trying to get on the back on that mat after that was really hard because anytime I did I felt like were eyes on me and I would kind of go into shock,” she said. 

That anxiety of the finals loss carried over into her collegiate wrestling career.

Starting off 

Albrecht started her college career at Wayland Baptist University in Planview, where she spent two years, in 2019-20 and 2020-21.

Aaron Meister, who recruited her to the school, left during her second. That year, the Pioneers were ranked No. 1 in NAIA to open the season. She started to look at transferring and eventually got overtures that she would lose scholarship money and not be able to come into the wrestling room by the staff that stayed.

Her mom, Jennifer, knew a friend who knew someone who worked at Baker and that led her to the Sunflower State….

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Written by Cody Thorn

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