Sterling Dias, a two-time Cadet world medalist, commits to the Iowa women's wrestling team
The Iowa women's wrestling program has added another big-time recruit to its stable of star lightweights, as Sterling Dias, a world-class wrestler from SLAM Academy in Las Vegas, has committed to the Hawkeyes.
"I've known (Iowa women's coach Clarissa Chun) for a very long time," Dias told the Register. "But also the community in general. I fell in love with everything about it. I'm happy to be a part of the first Iowa women's wrestling team."
Dias is now the 11th wrestler to join the Iowa roster, but she is immediately one of the most credentialed.
She is a two-time Cadet world medalist, winning bronze in 2018 in Croatia and silver in 2019 in Bulgaria. She won both medals at 40 kilograms (88 pounds), the lightest weight offered by United World Wrestling for the Cadet freestyle world championships.
She is also a four-time national champion — twice in freestyle, in 2018 as a Cadet and 2019 in 16U, and twice in folkstyle, both in 2019 at the 16U and Junior levels. More recently, she won a Nevada girls state title at 106 pounds in February.
"We are excited to welcome Sterling to our program," Chun said in a release, announcing Dias's signing. "She has a tremendous amount of experience competing at a high level and she will bring a great amount of energy to our room.
"I have known Sterling for a long time through my time at USA Wrestling’s Development program. She is a great person and student and will be a great addition to our team."
Dias is considered the No. 23 pound-for-pound women's high school wrestler in America, according to USA Wrestling. She is now the fifth wrestler from USA Wrestling's pound-for-pound high school rankings to commit to Iowa, joining No. 1 Kylie Welker, No. 14 Brianna Gonzalez, No. 16 Sam Calkins and No. 18 Reese Larramendy.
Additionally, six others have joined the Iowa program for Chun's inaugural recruiting class:
- Bettendorf's Ella Schmit, a three-time Iowa state champ and Junior All-American
- Nyla Valencia, a California state champ and recent U23 national champ
- Bella Mir, another Nevada state champ and national champ
- Emilie Gonzalez, Brianna's twin sister and national champ
- Ava Bayless, a national prep champ from Wyoming Seminary
- Nanea Estrella, a transfer from Menlo College who recently won the U.S. Open
Dias's relationship with Chun stretches back nearly a decade. She first met Chun when she was just 8 years old, when Chun was still actively competing. Dias then learned under Chun when she made the 2018 and 2019 Cadet world teams (Welker, her future Iowa teammate, also made that 2019 world team).
"I was mesmerized by everything about her," Dias said. "I fell in love with everything about the sport when I got really into it, and she was definitely one of my biggest inspirations, as a female at the lowest weight class and being an Asian American.
"The thing about coach Clarissa is that she's detail-oriented, and I love when we get into depth with technique."
That relationship helped Dias make her college decision all these years later. She is excited to learn from Chun more moving forward, and is excited for the opportunity to represent the first Division I Power 5 women's wrestling program.
"I already know most of the other girls on the team, so that's going to make it easy to jump right into things," Dias said. "I'm really excited to help grow this sport even more."
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.