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The Student News Site of Liberty High School

The Live Wire

Breaking the gender norm: Iowa Women’s Athletics

The University of Iowa has had many breakthroughs this school year, challenging society’s gender ideals.
Addison Pirkl
Carver Hawkeye Arena, sold out for a wrestling match against Pennsylvania State University, flooded with Hawkeye fans.

The University of Iowa has officially changed, and strengthened, the playing field for young girls’ futures. This 2023-24 school season has held many groundbreaking changes for the college, including the new introduction of the Iowa Women’s Wrestling Team (@iowawomenswrestling) and the new Athletic Director (AD) Beth Goetz (@bgoetz12) has brought much attention to Iowa, and much success.

The Iowa Women’s Wrestling Team has been a known phenomenon for a couple of years, but the girls only started wrestling this school year. The Division 1 (D1) university has recruited some of the most highly sought out female wrestlers nationwide, and has dominated their opponents this season, both inside and outside of Carver Hawkeye Arena.

The women’s team is currently ranked #1 in the country, boasting 14 girls who are all ranked in their respective weight classes. These include Emilie Gonzalez (#1) and Sterling Dias (#2) for 101, Ava Bayless (#2) for 109, Brianna Gonzalez (#3) for 116, Felicity Taylor (#2) for 123, Emily Frost (#10) for 130, Nanea Estrella (#2) and Esther Han (#6) for 136, Reese Larramendy (#1) and Ella Schmit (#2) for 143, Marlynne Deede (#1) for 155, Kylie Welker (#1) and Haley Ward (#3) for 170 and Alivia White (#7) for 191. The team went undefeated the entire season, going 9-0, and later going on to win the 2024 NWCA Duals National Championship (NWCA).

Iowa’s men’s wrestling (ranked #3 in the nation, with eight individually ranked wrestlers) is one of the most prestigious college programs for the sport across the nation, dating back many decades, producing multiple Olympic, National Collegiate Athletic Associations (NCAA) and conference champions. With the new addition of the women’s team, many highly recruited female wrestlers have come to the college to take part in the successful program, and are on the road to achieve the same titles.

Iowa is the third D1 college to create a women’s wrestling program, followed by Sacred Heart and Presbyterian, but is the first of the Power Five schools and its size to create the women’s team (NCAA). With this new addition, Iowa has become one of the first schools to create opportunities for female athletes to achieve success. With the new addition, many other D1 colleges are likely to follow in the Hawkeye’s footsteps.

Along with colleges adapting women’s wrestling, so have multiple high schools and middle schools across the state. Both Liberty and North Central Junior High created a girl’s wrestling team within the past couple of years, and both have been growing exponentially.

Following the introduction of the new Iowa Women’s Wrestling Team is the promotion of Beth Goetz to athletic director for the college, the only female AD in the Big Ten Conference. While not the first female in the Power Five schools, Goetz has shown Iowa’s determination to break through societal gender norms.

The position was formerly held by Gary Barta, with 11 other men before him, and was quickly replaced by Goetz. She has already proven how perfect of a fit she is for the role, with her extensive record of coaching the University of Missouri–St. Louis (UMSL) soccer, and was later inducted into their hall of fame. She also served on the NCAA Oversight Committee, served as vice chair for the NCAA D1 Women’s Basketball Committee (2021-22) and other achievements, including being recognized as one of the “2021 Women of Influence” (STLToday). Goetz has been pushing against the societal ideal that women are ‘inferior’ to men when it comes to these powerful positions, and she will not be the last.

These women have already inspired many young girls across the state and country, aspiring athletes and entrepreneurs alike. With these new additions, the Hawkeyes have motivated the youngest generations of girls to achieve levels of success that have originally only been seen by men.

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About the Contributor
Addison Pirkl
Addison Pirkl, Website Manager
This is Addison's second year on staff as a Website Manager, and she spends most of her time drawing, writing, and having her nose stuck in a book...