The Hawkeye girls’s wrestling program added a big-time switch this week — one who’s initially from the state of Iowa.
Felicity Taylor, a South Winneshiek graduate and one of many nation’s high girls’s freestyle wrestlers, introduced on social media and advised the Des Moines Register that she plans to switch to Iowa for her closing faculty wrestling season.
“I’m coming house,” Taylor mentioned in a telephone name with the Register, “and I’m so pumped to be again.”
Taylor has spent the final 4 years at McKendree College, a girls’s faculty wrestling powerhouse in southern Illinois. Competing at 116 kilos, she was a four-time nationwide finalist and 2021 nationwide champ. She helped the Bearcats win three nationwide crew titles. She plans to wrestle on the similar weight and have an identical influence for the Hawkeyes.
The 21-year-old has additionally grow to be certainly one of America’s fastest-rising girls’s freestylers.
This previous spring, competing at 53 kilograms (116.6 kilos), Taylor gained each the US Open and the Beneath-23 nationwide match; certified for Ultimate X, the final leg of USA Wrestling’s Senior world crew trials course of; and earned a spot on the U23 world crew. She’s going to symbolize america on the U23 world championships in October.
All of this has been a spectacular second act after her stellar highschool profession at South Winneshiek.
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Taylor gained 109 matches for the Warriors, the primary Iowa woman ever to achieve 100 profession wins. She was a four-time girls’s freestyle All-American, and in 2018, she grew to become the fourth Iowa woman ever to win a Junior nationwide title. She was the face of Iowa’s statewide women and girls’s wrestling motion all through her highschool profession.
However the Iowa she is returning to is way totally different from the one she left after graduating in 2018.
Throughout her senior season, Taylor was certainly one of simply 96 Iowa women who wrestled, in line with Trackwrestling. Final season, 1,023 Iowa women wrestled, together with 695 on the women state championships, hosted for the fourth 12 months by the Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officers Affiliation.
When Taylor gained her Junior title in 2018, solely 13 states provided women wrestling as an official highschool sport. Now, there are 36, together with Iowa, after the Iowa Ladies Excessive College Athletic Union’s resolution to sponsor women wrestling beginning in 2022-23.
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When Taylor left for McKendree, Waldorf was the one Iowa faculty that provided girls’s wrestling. Now, 13 Iowa faculties have both launched girls’s wrestling packages or plan to by 2023-24 — headlined by the College of Iowa, the nation’s first Division I Energy 5 girls’s wrestling program.
“It is wonderful how far it is come,” Taylor mentioned. “After I began my freshman 12 months (of highschool), I did not even know different women wrestled till I began competing nationally.
“Now that I am coming again, I am going to have a possibility to offer again to all the ladies in Iowa. I wish to see it proceed to develop, at each stage — highschool, youth, faculty.”
Taylor’s resolution to switch was spurred by the sudden departure of Sam Schmitz, McKendree’s first and solely girls’s wrestling coach. Schmitz constructed McKendree right into a nationwide energy after the varsity added the game in 2013.
However in April, Schmitz left to grow to be the lads’s wrestling coach at Central Methodist. In response, many McKendree wrestlers entered the switch portal, and Taylor weighed her choices.
She thought of staying at McKendree. She thought of following Schmitz to Central Methodist. She thought of forgoing her closing faculty season and becoming a member of a regional coaching middle to start out her senior-level profession. She thought of ending her aggressive profession and turning into a coach (she lately graduated with a level in schooling).
Finally, a dialog with Iowa girls’s coach Clarissa Chun swayed Taylor to Iowa Metropolis. Chun’s wide-ranging influence on women and girls’s wrestling — first as an athlete, now as a coach — was to Taylor. So, too, was the rent of Gary Mayabb as Chun’s affiliate head coach, in addition to Chun’s inaugural recruiting class.
“I’ve at all times heard wonderful issues about Clarissa,” Taylor mentioned. “She’s an enormous asset to not solely girls’s wrestling but additionally to Iowa, and I am enthusiastic about that.
“I lately labored a camp in Missouri and one other in Grinnell. I talked to 2 totally different coaches, and so they each talked about how wonderful coach Mayabb is. These camps had been every week or two aside. That was an indication for me, that that is the place I wanted to be.”
Taylor will redshirt in 2022-23, together with the remainder of the Iowa girls’s crew, however she may additionally go for an Olympic Redshirt throughout the 2023-24 season by advantage of being on the US girls’s freestyle nationwide crew this 12 months. That would push her closing faculty season to 2024-25. Taylor mentioned she and Chun will make that call at a later date.
The primary official season for the Iowa girls’s crew can be 2023-24, and Taylor can be arguably probably the most skilled member on the crew, which now contains 12 wrestlers. Taylor is the second switch, becoming a member of Nanea Estrella, one other US Open champ who joined this system from NAIA’s Menlo School.
The opposite 10, all highly-regarded and credentialed recruits, simply graduated highschool:
- Kylie Welker, a Junior world champ and the No. 1 total pound-for-pound girls’s wrestler in America;
- Ella Schmit, a three-time state champ for Bettendorf and Junior All-American;
- Reese Larramendy, a U20 world crew member;
- Nyla Valencia, a U23 world crew member;
- Brianna Gonzalez, a Junior nationwide champ;
- Emilie Gonzalez, a Junior nationwide champ;
- Ava Bayless, a two-time nationwide prep champ;
- Sam Calkins, a Junior nationwide champ;
- Bella Mir, a Junior folkstyle nationwide champ;
- and Sterling Dias, a two-time Cadet world bronze medalist.
Taylor is worked up to each lead and study from this group of younger stars. She as soon as dreamed of wrestling for the Hawkeyes. This week, that dream grew to become a actuality.
“It does not get significantly better than that,” Taylor mentioned. “I am excited to be house. I am very excited.”
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and highschool sports activities for the Des Moines Register. Observe him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.