In 2018, 34 Iowa high school wrestlers earned All-American honors at the Cadet and Junior Freestyle and Greco-Roman National Championships in Fargo, North Dakota.
The Hawkeye Wrestling Club announced the addition of four new members on Friday. Three are elite American women freestylers, and the fourth previously competed at the 2017 UWW Senior Freestyle World Championships.
Forrest Molinari, Michaela Beck, Kayla Miracle and Nodir Safarov have joined the HWC, giving the post-graduate wrestling program a total of 14 members. Safarov is originally from Uzbekistan. Molinari is a 2018 women’s freestyle world team member for the United States. Beck and Miracle are two of the brightest young women’s freestyle wrestlers in the country.
“It’s exciting to add four world class athletes,” HWC head coach Mark Perry said in a release. “All four are here for the right reasons. They are here to win titles. It’s that simple. Landing in Iowa City was an easy decision for them because they know what we are about and the dedication it takes to win at this level.
“I expect them to make a big impact on the program as a whole. Their passion and energy for wrestling will cross over like many other great examples we have throughout the program.”
Molinari, Beck and Miracle were all in Iowa City this summer to help Alli Ragan and Lauren Louive, also members of the HWC, with the Iowa wrestling program’s first all-girls wrestling camp. Their additions mean more than one-third of the HWC is made up of elite women's freestyle wrestlers.
“The quality of athletes we are adding to the HWC is in line with the philosophy of the entire program,” Iowa wrestling coach Tom Brands said. “We want the best partners for the best wrestlers in our wrestling room.
“Alli Ragan reached out to Forrest, Michaela and Kyle and the three of them were excited to join the quest to be the best wrestlers they can be in Iowa City. The same is true for Nodir. He adds to what we are doing.”
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Safarov is an international wrestler with previous world-level success. He competed at the 2017 World Championships in Paris. He actually wrestled former Iowa wrestler and HWC member Thomas Gilman in the quarterfinals (Gilman won, 12-1) and placed eighth that year.
Safarov will attend Kirkwood Community College this fall, according to the HWC, and will compete for Uzbekistan at 57 kilograms (125 pounds) at the 2018 World Championships in Budapest.
“The Hawkeye Wrestling Club is known to the world has having some of the top wrestlers and top lightweights on the planet,” Safarov said. “My experience alongside Thomas Gilman, Cory Clark and Spencer Lee, along with the other great workout partners in the room gives me the best chance of achieving my lifelong goal of winning an Olympic title.
“I’m grateful for being able to compete under the HWC banner and ready to prepare with these studs for Budapest in October.”
Molinari is the United States’ world team representative at 65 kilos (143 pounds). She was a previous Women’s College Wrestling Association (WCWA) national champion. She’s currently ranked No. 3 in the world by the United World Wrestling rankings.
“This is an amazing opportunity for the girls and me,” Molinari said. “We are grateful for the coaching staff opening up their program to us. I think making the move here before Worlds is going to give me the competitive edge I need to bring home a medal.
“I love the energy in the room from the team … the coaching staff here is phenomenal and so is the amount of knowledge they have about the sport. They have been so welcoming and helping us jump right into the mix. I can’t wait to represent team USA and HWC in Budapest.”
Beck, competing at 57 kilos, finished second at the U.S. Open and the 2018 world team trials while just a senior in high school. She is currently ranked 15th in the world and is considered one of the brightest up-and-coming women’s freestyle wrestlers in the country.
“I have always been an Iowa Wrestling fan and especially fans of the Brands brothers,” Beck said. “But after seeing the room in person and working out in the room, I knew right away it was a special place and the place for me.
“I know this team and staff will push me to my limits and help me develop into the person and wrestler that I need to be to become successful at the highest level.”
Miracle is a four-time WCWA national champion at Campbellsville University in Kentucky. She won the 2018 U.S. Open and finished second at Final X State College at 62 kilos (136 pounds), and is currently ranked No. 1 in the world.
“I’m expecting this room to be very technical but also intense at the same time,” Miracle said. “Iowa has a style that not many rooms in the world can match. The passion and drive that all the athletes bring to practice is just incredible to be part of.
“The HWC coaches are World Class and I can’t wait to start picking their brains. The men’s side of the HWC is obviously filled with studs, but now we have a strong team of women as well. I cannot wait to start the journey to the Olympics with my new teammates.”
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.