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As Iowa women’s wrestling coach Clarissa Chun recruits, ‘everyone wants to come to Iowa’
Chun hopes more Power Five athletics departments add women’s wrestling as intercollegiate sport
WEST DES MOINES — Clarissa Chun has a problem, but it’s a problem almost any coach would be happy to have.
“Everyone wants to come to Iowa,” said Chun, Iowa’s first women’s wrestling head coach. “Well, I shouldn’t say everyone. Most people do.”
As Chun builds the roster for the first Power Five women’s wrestling program, she’s seen plenty of interest from prospective recruits.
“The hardest part is turning some people away where maybe they should be able to come here, but I can’t have 300 athletes on the team in the first year,” Chun said after a donor event in West Des Moines last week.
Iowa already has 10 signees in its 2022 recruiting class — mostly via traditional recruiting, but one recruit transferred from an NAIA school — spanning geographically from Hawaii to Pennsylvania.
Four of the future Hawkeyes are from California, and two are from Nevada.
Chun has one Iowa signee — Bettendorf’s Ella Schmit, a three-time state champion and four-time state finalist — and would “really like to get more” Iowans on her roster in the future.
“The challenge with recruiting within the state is that women's wrestling at the collegiate level is a different style than girls’ wrestling at the high school level,” Chun said.
They will compete in 2022-23 unattached before their first season as a team in 2023-24. While Iowa technically won’t be hosting any competitions, the Hawkeyes are expected to compete in the Soldier Salute at Xtream Arena in Coralville in December.
The in-state enthusiasm for women’s wrestling was evident at the West Des Moines event. As Chun talked with The Gazette following the event, a line of Iowa supporters formed to talk with her after she was done with the couple-minute interview.
Iowa’s addition of the sport was part of a settlement to a Title IX lawsuit although the sport was already under consideration before that. Time will tell how soon until another Power Five athletics department adds women’s wrestling.
“I hope soon,” Chun said. “I hope 2024 at the very latest. … I really challenge everyone to get going, and hopefully next year somebody comes up and steps up to the plate.”
Some of Chun’s friends who coach men’s wrestling at the collegiate level have given her a hard time about being a Hawkeye.
“With the Hawkeyes, it really is either you love them or hate them,” Chun said. “You hate them because you want to beat them.”
She has a go-to answer for that.
“Well, until you start a women’s wrestling program, you can’t hate me right away,” Chun said.
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