116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY – Felicity Taylor didn’t entertain international wrestling when she ventured into the sport as a freshman at South Winneshiek.
A state cross country and track athlete for the Warriors, wrestling became a way to remain active and maintain conditioning throughout the winter. In a short period of time, Taylor demonstrated a knack for the sport, becoming more exposed to senior-level women’s wrestling.
“It was never a goal of mine to be at this level and compete for Team USA,” Taylor said of her start in wrestling. “I would say about my junior year of high school is when I started getting more serious about it and striving for those goals to be on Team USA.”
Taylor, a member of University of Iowa’s first women’s wrestling team, will get her opportunity as a member of the U.S. women’s freestyle team at the United World Wrestling World Cup this weekend at Xtream Arena in Coralville. The event marks the first time the men’s and women’s World Cup will be held simultaneously in the same venue.
“Super excited that the world is coming to Iowa City and Coralville,” said Iowa Coach Clarissa Chun, who was a member of the 2001 U.S. Team that competed alongside Greco-Roman at the World Cup in France. “What a special event we have this weekend with the World Cup being in our backyard of the University of Iowa, and more importantly that Felicity Taylor gets to compete and put on a performance on the world stage.”
Taylor was a pioneer in the state long before the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union held its first sanctioned wrestling season. She was the first female Upper Iowa Conference in 2017, competing against boys. Taylor was also a sectional champion, in addition to her accolades and All-American honors in girls’ wrestling.
Even while she still competed at South Winn, Taylor was holding wrestling clinics and giving speeches to younger girls. She attracted up to 20 girls to start the sport after one of her camps. Taylor will also be a catalyst for exposing Iowa females of all ages to the highest level of wrestling.
“It’s great to be able to have it local, especially with Iowa just sanctioning women’s wrestling in high school,” Taylor said. “It’s a great opportunity for all the girls.”
She competed at McKendree for three seasons, reaching the National Collegiate Women’s Wrestling Championship finals twice and winning a 2021 national title. Taylor transferred to Iowa earlier this year, becoming a key addition to the Hawkeyes first women’s team.
“Personally, it was important to have Felicity be a part of the University of Iowa program,” Chun said. “She’s a great role model. She led the way in girls’ wrestling in the state of Iowa at a high school level. She’s a great leader. She comes from a hard working family.”
The women’s program has spawned the Women’s Hawkeye Wrestling Club. Current Hawkeyes own World and Olympics aspirations. Taylor has international experience as a 2022 U23 World Team member, placing fifth at the World Championships in Spain. She has also been on the U.S. Team that competed in the 2019 Junior Pan American Championships in Brazil.
Now, Taylor will have the chance to take the stage with the world’s best competitors in her home state and hours from her hometown of Spillville.
“I’m really excited,” Taylor said. “It’s an amazing opportunity to be a part of this team and to be able to do it in Iowa City is even better. I’m excited. I’m ready to compete. I’m ready to show the world, show Iowa City, what Iowa women’s wrestling looks like and where we’re at.”
Taylor said her training hasn’t changed, leading up to the event. She is treating like any other tournament, focusing on what she does best to have success. Chun has high expectations for Taylor this weekend.
“I think she is strong and flexible,” Chun said. “She knows what she wants when she gets on the mat. She’s a competitor.
“I think she’s going to do a lot of great things on the world stage and it’s about letting herself shine out there.”
Taylor expects a pretty big showing of family and friends. The two-day freestyle dual tournament will be for Eastern Iowa fans to watch high-level wrestling. It’s also a chance for her to experience what it might be like when the Iowa women’s program starts official competition for the 2023-24 season.
“The Iowa fans are like no other fans,” Taylor said. “They’re awesome and wild. You definitely hear them, no matter what, so I’m just excited to be there.”