California state champ Nyla Valencia becomes fourth commit for Iowa women's wrestling team

Cody Goodwin
Hawk Central

The Iowa women's wrestling program landed its fourth commitment in the past week on Thursday — this time, from talent-rich California.

Nyla Valencia, a senior from Ann Sobrato High School in Morgan Hill, California, has committed to the Hawkeyes. She is now the fourth member of Iowa's 2022 recruiting class, all of whom have committed in the past eight days.

"To all the women who have come before me, pioneering a journey for the new generation of female wrestlers, I want to thank you," Valencia wrote in an Instagram post, announcing her decision.

"From this day forward I am a Hawkeye," she continued. "I will bleed black and gold and worker harder than anyone on the mat, striving to win championships along the way. I will continue on my pursuit of becoming a surgeon after my athletic career is complete. My teammates and I will set the standard for Women’s Wrestling across the nation.

"I want to thank my family and coaches for the sacrifices they’ve made for me as well as the unconditional love and support they have given me. Thank you Coach Clarissa and everyone else behind the program for stepping up as a leader, let’s make history!"

Valencia joins a stacked group that will make up Chun's first Iowa roster. The other three:

In Valencia, Chun is getting a lightweight star, the No. 3-ranked 106-pounder nationally by USA Wrestling with a résumé filled with sterling accomplishments.

In 2019, Valencia was a finalist at both the 15U and Cadet women's freestyle world team trials. The following year, she won California's single-class girls state championships at 106 pounds, going 5-0 and outscoring her opponents 58-6 along the way.

Last March, Valencia won USA Wrestling's High School National Recruiting Showcase, at Xtream Arena in Coralville. She won at 106, beating Wyoming Seminary's Virginia Foard, Ohio star Chloe Dearwester and Missouri standout Faith Cole. Foard, Dearwester and Cole are all ranked in the top 15 nationally by USA Wrestling.

Nyla Valencia, from California's Bulldog Wrestling Club, won USA Wrestling's High School National Recruiting Showcase at 106 pounds back in March. Valencia is ranked third nationally at 106 pounds by USA Wrestling.

In July, Valencia bumped up to 112 pounds and took sixth at the Junior women's freestyle national championships. She made the semifinals after knocking off two more top-20 opponents and a third, Kendra Ryan, who now wrestles at North Central College and is ranked No. 6 nationally at 116 pounds by the NCAA women's coaches rankings.

Then in October, she went 5-0 and won the Super 32 Challenge, with wins over 22nd-ranked Avery Kibelbek (also from Wyoming Seminary), 24th-ranked Evelyn Holmes-Smith (from Alabama), Indiana's Trinity Malave (12th nationally at 112), Arizona's fifth-ranked Karlee Brooks and Cole again, who's ranked fourth nationally.

Now she's joining a star-studded list of prospects for an Iowa program that won't begin competing, officially, until the 2023-24 season — and the more Chun reels in these talented recruits, the more expectations are going to grow.

“Nyla is an incredible person that works diligently to achieve big aspirations,” Chun said in a release, announcing Valencia's addition to the program. “She is competitive in the classroom and on the mat. She found Iowa to be the perfect fit for her and I know she is a perfect fit for this program.”

Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.