Iowa women’s wrestler Felicity Taylor eager for United World Wrestling Women’s World Cup

Taylor will represent the United States in the 53 kg weight class on Saturday and Sunday at Xtream Arena in Coralville.


Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen

Felicity Taylor looks up into the crowd during a NCAA wrestling dual between Iowa and California Baptist, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

Kenna Roering, Sports Reporter

Iowa women’s wrestler Felicity Taylor will represent the U.S. in the 53 kg weight class at the United World Wrestling Women’s World Cup on Saturday and Sunday at Xtream Arena in Coralville.

This event will mark the first time in history that the men’s freestyle World Cup and the women’s freestyle World Cup were held side-by-side.

“I am really excited,” Taylor said in a Zoom press conference on Wednesday. “It is an amazing opportunity to be a part of this team and to do it in Iowa is even better. I’m excited, I’m ready to compete, ready to show the world and Iowa City what Iowa women’s wrestling looks like and where we are at.”

The senior from Spillville, Iowa, first started wrestling to stay in shape for cross country and track. Then, the South Winneshiek High School standout totaled 109 victories during her career on the mat to become the first woman in Iowa high school wrestling history to reach the 100-win milestone.

Taylor also took home a Junior National title in 2018 at 112 pounds, becoming the fourth Iowa woman ever to achieve the feat.

“As my career went on and I got to my junior year and got more exposed to women’s wrestling and was going to more of the national events, that’s when I made it a goal to make it as far as I can with this sport,” Taylor said.

Taylor spent the last four years at McKendree University in Lebanon, Illinois, where she was crowned the 116-pound National Collegiate Women’s Wrestling Champion in 2021. She finished runner-up in that event in 2019, 2020, and 2022.

Taylor helped the Bearcats to three national team titles before transferring to the Hawkeyes in June. Iowa announced on Sep. 23, 2021, that it would become the first NCAA Division I Power Five program to offer women’s wrestling.

Before committing to Iowa, Taylor took home a title at the U.S. Open in April. After choosing the Hawkeyes, she placed fifth at the U23 World Championships in Spain in October.

“Once I knew that we had an opportunity to bring Felicity back home I knew we had to try,” Iowa head coach Clarissa Chun said in a statement. “She is a great leader in the sport of women’s wrestling and in Iowa. I think it creates a lot of hope and opportunities for aspiring athletes from Iowa.”

RELATED: Chun ready to lead newly established Iowa women’s wrestling program

Chun, a two-time Olympian and former assistant coach of the women’s national wrestling team from 2017-21, will serve as an honorary coach at the World Cup this weekend.

The other honorary coach is world and Olympic gold medalist Dan Gable. Gable was the Iowa men’s wrestling coach from 1976 to 1997, leading the Hawkeyes to 21 Big Ten Championships and 15 national titles.

This year’s Women’s World Cup qualifiers — the U.S., Japan, China, Mongolia, and Ukraine — were determined based on overall team results from the Senior World Championships in September. An All-World team represented by top athletes whose countries did not qualify will also compete this weekend.

The U.S. women earned second at the 2022 World Championships and will face China, which placed fourth at the 2022 worlds, on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. Taylor is projected to face Li Deng, who has no known achievements.

On Saturday night, the U.S. women will battle the All-World team. Taylor will have a tough test against three-time World medalist Maria Prevolaraki of Greece.

“People get excited about the World Cup … It means a lot in the world of wrestling,” Chun said in a Zoom press conference on Wednesday. “You get that with the growth of girls and women’s wrestling, and you are getting this amazing trajectory where it is going to be a cross point right here in Iowa. People who love, breathe, eat, and sleep wrestling are embedded and engrained in this state.”

The number of high school women’s wrestlers in Iowa has been steadily increasing. With Iowa becoming the 34th state to sanction high school women’s wrestling in January, that number has continued to grow.

Taylor, who has been a persistent leader in the development of women’s wrestling in Iowa, thinks the World Cup will help bring even more opportunities to aspiring women wrestlers around the state.

“I don’t think I watched any senior-level wrestling until I was competing in it,” Taylor said. “So allowing those girls in high school, and all the girls around Iowa even in middle school and younger elementary to have that exposure and the opportunity to watch wrestling at the highest level is awesome.”

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