Kylie Welker becomes first recruit in Iowa women’s wrestling program history

The 2021 Junior World Champion from Franksville, Wisconsin, has signed a national letter of intent to join head coach Clarissa Chun’s program.


Jerod Ringwald

Clarissa Chun smiles while being introduced as the new women’s wrestling coach for the University of Iowa during a press conference at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. Chun won an Olympic bronze medal for Team USA in the 2012 Olympics.

Robert Read, Pregame Editor

Kylie Welker, a 2021 Junior World Champion, has signed a national letter of intent to become the first commit in the history of the University of Iowa women’s wrestling program, Iowa women’s wrestling head coach Clarissa Chun announced on Thursday.

Welker is considered the No. 1 pound-for-pound recruit in the country by USA Wrestling. The wrestler from Franksville, Wisconsin, won a gold medal at the 2021 Junior World Championships, leading Team USA to its first Junior world team title, and was a bronze medalist at the U23 World Championships in 2021. Welker won a bronze medal at the Cadet World Championships in 2019.

“This is an incredible moment for Kylie, her family and the Iowa wrestling program,” Chun said in a release. “She is the complete package — competitively, socially, academically — and the perfect ambassador for the university and this program. We continue to make history in Iowa City. The work doesn’t stop for me or for Kylie with this commitment. This is only the beginning for her and Iowa women’s wrestling.”

Welker represented the U.S. at 72 kg at the 2021 Senior World Championships. She fell to eventual Olympic silver medalist Adeline Gray in the finals at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, narrowly missing out on an Olympics bid.

Welker will train in Iowa City and compete unattached during the 2022-23 season. Iowa announced in September that it would become the first Division I Power Five school to add women’s wrestling. The Hawkeyes will begin competing during the 2023-24 season.

“One of the biggest reasons I chose Iowa is because of coach (Clarissa) Chun,” Welker said. “I have worked with her since a young age, and I have a lot of trust and respect for her. She also has a lot of faith in me. She believes I am capable of achieving my goals and more, and she’s willing to help me get there. That means a lot to me.

“I love how much support is behind Iowa wrestling. It feels like I’m stepping into a family. I believe that Iowa has everything that I need to help me along my journey to becoming an Olympic Gold medalist. I want everyone to know that I wouldn’t be here without the people that have been helping me since Day 1 and believing in me. It’s a huge opportunity and I couldn’t be more grateful to further my wrestling and academic career as a Hawkeye.”