IOWA CITY, Iowa — Editor's Note: The video shown above is from a Nov. 23, 2021 newscast.
Iowa's women's wrestling continues adding key pieces to its new program, signing junior world champion and U.S. Olympic trials finalist Kylie Welker as the first commit in school history.
Coach Clarissa Chun announced Welker as her first recruit on Thursday.
A native of Franksville, Wisconsin, Welker earned a gold medal at the 2021 Junior World Championship and represented the U.S. at 72kg for the 2021 Senior World Championships. She was defeated last March by eventual silver medalist Adeline Gray in the finals at the U.S. team trials.
Many consider Welker to be the No. 1 pound-for-pound recruit in the country. She credited Chun and a past history they have working together in her decision to become a Hawkeye.
“One of the biggest reasons I chose Iowa is because of coach (Clarissa) Chun,” Welker said, via HawkeyeSports. “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."
Iowa hired Chun, a former U.S. bronze medalist, as its first women's wrestling coach in November 2021.
“This is an incredible moment for Kylie, her family and the Iowa wrestling program,” Chun said. “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.”
It's a historic signing for the program that became the first Power Five school to add women's wrestling as a sanctioned sport in September 2021.
Welker brings loads of a talent and a packed resume which could draw more attention for other recruits as Iowa continues adding more wrestlers.
“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.”
Welker will continue training and competing in Iowa City before the Hawkeyes officially begin their first season in 2023-24.