Chloe Clemons first stepped onto a wrestling mat in seventh grade. Five years later, she’s a state champions.
The only glaring difference from then and now in the Cedar Rapids Jefferson wrestler’s world — besides her athletic ability — is the amount of girls she wrestles among.
“When I started, there was less than 90 total high school girls (in Iowa) doing wrestling, but now there are over one 180,” she said.
The growth in numbers during the five years she’s been competing speaks for itself. Girls wrestling definitely is on the rise.
The inaugural Iowa Girls State Wrestling Tournament was hosted by the Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association this year, a solidifying stamp that reached the eyes of more than just our invested wrestling community.
“The exposure, TV time and pictures were all so cool,” Clemons said about being part of this first-time event. “But I’m really doing it for them, the little girls who are wrestling so that they can have bigger opportunities with tournaments and duals in the future.”
This perspective is a huge part of what gives sports the doorway to change lives. Find a role model who competes for something bigger than themselves, and you’ll get a little girl or boy who will be touched to the core.
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While female wrestlers with attitudes like Clemons’ are a huge reason why girls’ wrestling is likely to take steps forward in the near future, they’re not the only reason. Girls wrestling has been growing at the high school and college level over the past few years.
The National Wrestling Coaches Association notes 48 colleges now sponsor a varsity level women’s wrestling program. Even more than that, at the end of 2017, Presbyterian College announced its would be the first Division I college to add women’s wrestling to its repertoire during the 2019-2020 season.
As advancements for this sport continue to be made all around the country, Clemons has a vision for an official girls’ state tournament.
“To have the same atmosphere as the Well (Wells Fargo Arena), with the same opportunity for brackets and anything else,” she said. “To have the crowd, the fans there and the cheering kind of atmosphere, (That) becomes more realistic with every passing day.”