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

Recap | Kylie Welker defeats three-time defending champ, clinches national title for Iowa women’s wrestling

Welker dominated her finals match, defeating North Central’s Yelena Makoyed, 11-0.
Cody Blissett
An official holds up Iowa 170-pound Kylie Welker’s arm after she defeated North Central College Yelena Makoyed during the second day of the National Collegiate Women’s Wrestling Championships at Alliant Energy PowerHouse in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Saturday, March 9, 2024. Welker defeated the three-time defending champion by technical fall, 11-0.

CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA – In its inaugural season, the Iowa women’s wrestling team had several wrestlers reach the finals of the National Collegiate Women’s Wrestling Championships, including a pair of all-Iowa finals.

Following the tournament, Iowa head coach Clarissa Chun was named NWCA Coach of the Year.

Iowa’s Jaycee Foeller pulled off an upset against top-seeded Traeh Haynes in the 191 semifinal. Foeller pinned Haynes in 42 seconds, bringing Iowa fans to their feet. She then turned to the crowd and pumped her hands, wanting more applause. 

Foeller faced Sandra Guerrero out of New Jersey City to kick off the championship bouts. Foeller lost via fall in 2:22.

Sterling Dias and Emilie Gonzalez went head-to-head for a national title at 101 pounds. This wasn’t the first time Dias and Gonzalez went head-to-head to claim a tournament title this season.

The pair battled for the Princeton Open and the Missouri Valley Open, with each wrestler winning one of the contests, making the national title match the tiebreaker. 

Emilie Gonzalez ultimately came out on top by a score of 4-0 to claim the 101-pound title, qualify for the Olympic Trials, and become Iowa’s first-ever national title winner.

“I wonder if she knows that,” Iowa head coach Clarissa Chun said on Emilie Gonzalez becoming Iowa’s first-ever national champion. “She’s in the history books, and she deserves that. She’s earned that, she’s worked her tail off to get that.”

At 109 pounds, Ava Bayless reached the final after a 5-2 decision win in the semis. 

Bayless faced Kaelani Shufeldt out of Lock Haven for the title. It was another tightly contested battle for the title, with Bayless narrowly defeating Shufeldt 2-1. 

There was some controversy around the finish, as Shufeldt seemed to score a passivity point late in the match to tie it up 2-2, but both officials didn’t confirm the point, and Bayless was awarded the victory to punch her ticket to the Olympic Trials and become Iowa’s second national champ. 

“The 109 [match] was so rough,” Chun said on the controversial finish. “Got the blood boiling on that one.” 

Brianna Gonzalez and Felicity Tayor mparked the second all-Iowa final at 116 pounds. Gonzalez avenged her lone loss of the year to Sydney Petzinger in the semifinals, beating her 10-1.

Taylor made a statement in her semifinal matchup, pinning Samara Chavez in 5:58 for a finals berth after dropping down from 123 pounds to 116 for the postseason. 

Taylor jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the opening period of the finals against Gonzalez and held on to it the rest of the match.

Gonzalez scored a takedown in the second, but it was too late, and Taylor won the match 9-2 to claim Iowa’s third national title. 

“It was my goal to become a national champion and do it with this team,” Taylor said. “There’s no better way to end it than being a national champ and being number one as a team.”

Taylor said she’s grateful for Gonzalez as she pushed her to improve and added that the 116-pound title will be Gonzalez’s next year. 

Reese Larramendy was Iowa’s sixth finalist after she earned an 11-0 tech fall against Maddie Kubicki in the semis.

Larramendy faced Aine Drury of King University in the final. Larramnedy jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead in the first, but Drury responded and took a  5-4 lead before the period ended. 

Larramendy responded to the deficit by putting the match away in the second, pinning Drury in 4:10 to become Iowa’s fourth title winner. 

“It’s my job to go out there and put as many points [as I can] on the board,” Larramendy said. “Not trying to force a pin, I’m not trying to force an attack, I’m just trying to get points on the board.” 

Marlynne Deede and Kylie Welker became finalists after tech falls in their semifinal bouts at 155 and 170, respectively.

Deede faced Cheyenne Bowman out of King University in the 155-pound title. Deede had a pair of opportunities for a takedown to start but couldn’t finish them, so Bowman led 1-0 after the first period.

DeeDe made the most of her opportunities in the second, scoring a takedown and earning six points for exposure to take an 8-1 lead. 

Drury scored a late takedown to bring the score to 8-3, but Deede waited out the rest of the match and won Iowa’s fifth title. 

Welker faced Yelena Makoyed out of North Central for not only the 170-pound title but also the lead in team points and the overall national title. 

Welker took care of business and tech falled Makoyed 11-0 to clinch the team title for the Hawkeyes. Makoyed was the three-time defending national champ.

Welker earned the most team points in the tournament with 28.5. 

Welker said she was unaware of the team point situation heading into her bout, but her teammates told her, “You just won us the team title.” 

Welker added that every point mattered in this tournament and credited the wrestlers on the backside in the consolation bracket who kept on wrestling and made the team title possible. 

“We’re building,” Chun said. “We’re just getting started.”

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About the Contributors
Isaac Elzinga
Isaac Elzinga, Sports Reporter
Isaac Elzinga is a junior at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass communication. This is his first year working at The Daily Iowan; he also works as a producer for 1600 ESPN a sports radio station in Cedar Rapids.
Cody Blissett
Cody Blissett, Visuals Editor
Cody Blissett is a visual editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a third year student at the University of Iowa studying cinema and screenwriting. This is his first year working for The Daily Iowan.