Local All-American Pleads with UNI AD to Start Women’s Wrestling
Less than a year ago, the University of Iowa Athletic Department announced that it would start the first-ever NCAA Division I, Power 5 women's wrestling program. The plan is to start competing in the 2023-2024 academic year under the guidance of Clarissa Chun, who was an assistant coach on the women’s national team from 2017-21.
Now, fans and wrestlers all over the state want to continue to see the sport grow at the collegiate level and beyond. Especially one girl who wrestles at Union High School in LaPorte City and whose dream is to wrestle in a UNI Panther singlet.
Last night, Jillian Worthen made that known on Twitter, where she goes by the name of 'Monster.'
The All-American sat down at a table outside, donning a purple and gold hoodie that reads across the front "Northern Iowa Panthers." She made her case in a video where she read from a hand-written note addressed to the University of Northern Iowa Athletic Director, David Harris.
She starts by addressing the history of Iowa and the great programs the state has to offer, particularly at the University of Iowa:
Every little boy or girl that has or does wrestle in the state has always dreamed of becoming a Hawkeye. Since it was sanctioned this year, it's not just the boys that get to fulfill these dreams, but the girls get a chance, too.
She continues, referencing the difficulties girls and women face in the sport, especially given how uncommon it is for them to continue past wrestling for clubs:
Some girls don't get that chance. Some don't get that chance because some people don't recognize the hard work and determination us young women have -- how much time we give or gave up for the sport, the countless hours of running and practice we give, or how many birthday parties or weddings we choose to miss. I gave up my whole life for this sport so I could be great. So I could be a Panther.
She continues, illustrating the commitment she has to being a member of the lauded Panther Train:
So many people have told me to pick a different college because they don't believe UNI could have a women's program. They've also told me that I'm too young and my decision will change, but I've been wanting to be the first woman to commit to UNI for about six years now. Others have told me that they would follow.
She finishes with her final plea to Harris:
Women's wrestling is growing, and you already have an amazing men's program and coaches. Wouldn't you want to be one of the colleges that helps the growth of women's wrestling? ... You can make history, and so can I. I want to help make a difference. ... Because not every girl wants to be a Hawkeye.
Worthen's message to UNI's AD has reached some high-profile people on Twitter, including the Panther Train's very own two-time All-American Parker Keckeisen and head wrestling coach at UNI, Doug Schwab. Other Panther wrestlers to retweet the video include Kyle Biscoglia, Cael Rahnavardi, Hunter Philpott, and Patrick Schoenfelder.
Worthen has a bit of notoriety herself, being ranked a four-star wrestler according to Track Wrestling. The site also lists her record at the 107 weight class as 68-9 with 38 pins. The soon-to-be sophomore won the 100-pound state championship last year at Iowa's first girl's state championships and finished 18-0.
See a clip of her wrestling here:
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