girl wrestlers

War of the Roses First Conflict makes history at Carver Hawkeye Arena

IOWA CITY, IOWA – Hector Gomez said he didn’t hesitate driving more than three hours to Iowa City, Iowa, on Oct. 12, when the chance for his two daughters to wrestle in an all-girls tournament came about.

Gomez has been involved with wrestling for 23 years and operates a wrestling academy in Carol Stream, Ill., and was at the War of the Roses First Conflict at Carver Hawkeye Arena. The tournament ran alongside the Cliff Keen Conflict at Carver tournament, which is a fundraiser for the Hawkeye Wrestling Club.

Two months ago, Gomez said, he got a question from his two daughters about the sport.

Alexis, 13, and Gabriella, 8, wanted to wrestle.

And when Gomez found out about War of the Roses all-girls wrestling series, he said it was a no-brainer to head to the tournament.

“I think they’re at ease wrestling girls,” Hector Gomez said. “It’s an even playground. It’s a great opportunity for the girls.”

The two girls were part of a group of 35 girls from eight states who competed in the first all-ages girls wrestling tournament at Carver Hawkeye Arena.

Charlotte Bailey, women’s director for Iowa USA Wrestling, made the first all-ages, all-girls tournament at Carver Hawkeye Arena happen.

She said she partnered with Brent Harvey’s War of the Roses all-girls tournament series because people recognize it.

“Brent Harvey has been using the War of the Roses Tournament series to grow girls wrestling all over the country,” Bailey said. “People who are familiar with that tournament series across the country get an opportunity to come see what Iowa wrestling is all about.”

Brent Harvey said it was Bailey’s hard work that allowed history to be made with girls wrestling at the tournament.

“Obviously, having the first all-ages, all-girls event in Carver Hawkeye – I feel like this is the Holy Land of wrestling facilities,” he said. “We have to get this every year. It’s not just Iowa. We have to have this same opportunity in every state. The more we have that option, the more girls who are going to do it and that’s the only way we’re going to be the best in the world.”

Bailey said most girls in Iowa rarely get all-girls competition opportunities. When they do, Bailey said, it’s often at large national tournaments.

“For parents to invest in going all of that way when they’ve never wrestled another girl or maybe their girl hasn’t been that successful in wrestling boys, that’s a huge a step for us to be able to experience more girl matches close to home then get the confidence that they need to travel with us with our Team Iowa,” she said.

After Gomez’s girls wrestled at Carver Hawkeye, he said he was all-in with girls wrestling.

“They enjoy it,” he said. “Now they know what it takes.”

Girls will have another all-ages, all-girls War of the Roses event coming soon.

Preseason nationals are Oct. 25 in Dayton, Ohio, and registration is still open, Harvey said.

by Dominic Adams