Breaking the barrier: The University of Iowa to introduce women’s wrestling team


Diana Williams

Ella Schmit pins her opponent in a high school match during her junior season campaign.

Alex Hunter, Copy Editor

After a long-awaited arrival, the University of Iowa is set to launch the first women’s wrestling program during the 2023-2024 school year. 

This groundbreaking milestone will mark the beginning of a new and improved era in collegiate sports for females. Not to mention, it will signify the first institution from a power-five conference to appeal women’s wrestling as an offering to intercollegiate sports.

The University of Iowa has built a robust foundation in the men’s wrestling program within the last two decades, including its 24th national championship win in their previous season. 

Tom Brands, the University’s wrestling coach, devoted his words regarding the women’s program in an article. “Being the first is huge,’’ Brands said. “Being the first is impactful. Those reasons are because (female competitors) are just as hungry as our guys are to win championships. There is no separation. The hunger, desire and drive, they’re the same,’’ Brands declared.

In terms of recruiting, the women’s roster will consist of 30 total wrestlers, 10 of which will have the ability to wrestle on scholarship. Assuming a certain level of prestige is met, the new program will attract hundreds of the most talented women wrestlers in the nation. 

Ella Schmit, a former PV student, two-time girls’ state tournament champion, Junior All-American wrestler and one of the top recruits in the class of 2022 explains her thoughts on the new Iowa women’s team. “I predict many more D1 schools starting a program because of the influence of Iowa,” she said. For me, it will affect what schools I look at but also, the sport as a whole. It is going to help open so many more opportunities that will help me in my career. The competition at the college level will get better, and the standards for the sport will be raised.”

Schmit attributes her success to many years of hard work and dedication on the mat, but why go through all that trouble if you cannot take your skills to the next level?

Iowa will provide women the opportunity to bring their talents to the collegiate level. Because of its growing popularity, women’s wrestling has received national recognition despite the sport’s historic male dominance. Schmit describes her view on wrestling at the collegiate level. “There is always someone out there better than you. The harder I work, the farther I go. I believe I have a lot more potential, but the only way to see that is to continue to the next level” she explained. 

There is no question the high expectations for the newborn women’s program, executing against the top-notch competition will be their first challenge. 

Gary Barta, director of athletics chair at the University of Iowa illustrated his perspective in a news article. “Our wrestling history and success makes this a perfect fit. We are confident that at Iowa, our women’s wrestling student-athletes will have the opportunity to compete at the highest level athletically and academically” he announce

The upcoming of an official women’s wrestling program at Iowa has the potential to change the way people view the sport. In the next few years, time can only tell how major these adjustments will be for the evolution of the sport.