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Hawaii’s Clarissa Chun named Iowa women’s wrestling coach

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2012
                                Clarissa Chun of the United States celebrated after her win against Irini Merleni of Ukraine compete during their 48-kg women’s freestyle wrestling bronze medal match at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2012

    Clarissa Chun of the United States celebrated after her win against Irini Merleni of Ukraine compete during their 48-kg women’s freestyle wrestling bronze medal match at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Two-time Olympian and Roosevelt High School alum Clarissa Chun has been named the first head coach in the history of the University of Iowa women’s wrestling team.

The Hawkeyes announced on Sept. 23 that it would become the first NCAA Division I, Power Five conference school to offer the sport, starting in the 2023-2024 season.

“Clarissa is the perfect fit to lead us in our journey to build a championship women’s wrestling program,” said Gary Barta, Henry B. and Patricia B. Tippie Director of Athletics Chair, in a news release. “Her credentials speak for themselves, and her approach and philosophy match well with our Win. Graduate. Do it Right. values.”

Chun, who was inducted into the Missouri Valley College Hall of Fame, Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame, and Roosevelt High School Hall of Fame in 2018, took fifth in the 2008 Beijing Games before earning a bronze medal at the 2012 London Games, competing at 48 kg.

“It is an honor to be involved in a historic and exciting opportunity for young women across the country to compete as Hawkeyes in women’s wrestling,” said Chun. “I want to thank Gary Barta, Barbara Burke and Tom Brands for their initiative and leadership, which is going to make a positive and lasting impact on the wrestling world. This didn’t happen overnight; it took a lot of hard work and investment from community members and the University of Iowa’s administration, and I send a sincere thank-you to all who have worked to make this happen.

“It is a privilege to be a part of the Hawkeye brand. With that comes great responsibility and high expectations. I am ready to meet those challenges and I am excited to build a winning program in Iowa City, Wrestling Town USA.”

Iowa men’s wrestling head coach Tom Brands, lauded the selection and said Barta followed through on his promise to find the best coach for the new program.

“Clarissa Chun has charisma. She has credentials. She has championships. She commands respect and the wrestlers that come to school here are going to love her. This is a big deal for the University of Iowa,” said Brands, in a news release.

Chun joins the Hawkeyes from USA Wrestling, where she was an assistant coach on the women’s national team from 2017-21. Working on staff with former Hawkeye national champion and women’s national team head coach Terry Steiner, Chun helped lead the United States to 17 world medals, including seven gold, four silver and six bronzes, as well as an Olympic gold, Olympic silver and two Olympic bronzes, according to the release.

“I am grateful for Coach Terry Steiner’s leadership and mentorship and look forward to continuing our partnership and developing future national, world and Olympic champions for the United States of America. I cannot thank USA Wrestling enough for helping me grow as a person and coach,” said Chun.

In the United States’ most recent showing at the 2021 World Championships in Oslo, Norway, the women’s team won two gold, two silver and three bronze medals, a historic seven-medal performance that led Team USA to a second-place finish.

Prior to being hired at USA Wrestling, Chun was among the most accomplished athletes in international wrestling.

In addition to her Olympic performances, Chun won five U.S. Open titles and was a 2011 Pan American Games silver medalist and won four gold medals at the Pan American Championships over an 18 year career. She was a runner-up at four U.S. World Team Trials and three U.S. Opens.

Chun competed for Missouri Valley College, where she made the Senior Women’s National Team while still a student.

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