The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa women’s wrestling looks to close out historic season strong in the NWWC National Championships

The Hawkeyes will enter Cedar Rapids as the overwhelming favorite.
Grace Smith
Iowa celebrates a win during the Iowa Duals between NCAA-ranked No. 1 Iowa women’s wrestling, NAIA-ranked No. 1 Life University, and Missouri Valley at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024. The Hawkeyes defeated the Big Reds, 42-0, and the Running Eagles, 35-6.

 Following a dominant outing at the NWWC Regionals on Feb. 23, the Iowa women’s wrestling squad will make the quick trek to Cedar Rapids to close out its milestone season at the NWWC National Championships on March 8-9.

The four-session event will be held at Alliant Energy PowerHouse in downtown Cedar Rapids, with wrestling beginning at 11 a.m. each day. For one session, tickets are $18 for adults and $12 for children. All session passes can also be purchased for an additional cost. For fans unable to make it to Cedar Rapids, a live stream can be found through FloWrestling.

The Hawkeyes are coming off a superb performance in regional action as all 15 wrestlers competing qualified for the national finals. For a wrestler to qualify for nationals, they must place in the top four of their respective weight class.

Iowa storylines

Despite several key injuries at 136 pounds, first-year Lilly Luft has stepped up to the plate. Hailing from Charles City, Iowa, Luft is 13-5 on the year and ranked No. 14 in her weight class.

Second-year twins Emilie and Brianna Gonzalez have been a dominant one-two punch in the Hawkeye lineup. Both clinched regional championships at Simpson College and have a combined record of 29-2 this year. Emilie Gonzalez is ranked No. 6 in her weight class, while Brianna Gonzalez holds the No. 5 spot.

Second-year Kylie Welker is a perfect 13-0 on the season and comes off a regional title at 170 pounds. During her high school career, Welker was ranked the No.1 pound-for-pound women’s high school wrestler in the nation.

Head coach Clarissa Chun was named USA Today’s Woman of the Year for the state of Iowa on Feb. 29. Chun was a two-time Olympian during her wrestling career and led the U.S. to 17 World medals as an assistant coach.

Teams to watch

With a perfect 16-0 dual record and the top spot in the NWCA rankings, the Hawkeyes undoubtedly enter the event as clear favorites, but there are other programs looking to shock the nation and take down Iowa.

One of the biggest threats to Iowa is North Central College, who the Hawkeyes have faced on multiple occasions.

The two teams met in the NWCA National Duals finals on Jan. 6, which narrowly ended in Iowa’s favor, 21-20.

Though they came up short, the Cardinals did win five matches.

Kendra Ryan, Amani Jones, and Alara Boyd have won NWCA Regional Wrestler of the Month honors, and Jones and Boyd have defeated their Iowa counterparts at least once during the season.

Colorado Mesa also presents a tough challenge for the Hawkeyes.

Colorado Mesa enters Cedar Rapids with an 11-5 record and a No. 4 national ranking in the NWCA polls. Wrestlers Isabella Morales and Holly Beaudoin have earned NWCA Regional Wrestler of the Month recognitions for Region IV.

With Iowa’s Emilie Gonzalez sharing the same weight class, a potential showdown in the national finals could be in store.

More to Discover
About the Contributors
Brad Schultz
Brad Schultz, Sports Reporter
Brad Schultz is a sophomore at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication with a minor in Sports Studies. This is first year working as a sports reporter and he has a deep passion and love for sports. Outside of the Daily Iowan, Brad is a contributor for Saturday Blitz, a college football site, with his content primarily covering Iowa and the Big Ten.
Grace Smith
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.