Athlete Spotlight: Claire Brown

Claire Brown, a multisport athlete, competed on the mat this winter, along with the first ever girls wrestling team at City High.


Anna Gayley

Claire Brown ’23 wrestles at the state tournament at XStream Arena, representing the City High Girls Wrestling Team, in it’s first year of competing.

Lauren Koch, Sports Editor

With the addition of a girls wrestling team at City High this year, many brave girls have stepped into a brand new sport and found much success this season. Among these athletes is junior Claire Brown, who finished her season strong with a record of 11-2. 

Being a manager of the boys wrestling team since 8th grade, wrestling has always had a presence in Claire Brown’s life. However, it wasn’t until this year she was truly able to experience the sport. Claire recounts the initial reason she went out for wrestling.

“I think the biggest thing was just that I wanted to stay in shape for soccer, since basketball wasn’t really my thing last year”. 

Claire has been a varsity starter on the soccer team since her freshman year. When comparing soccer with wrestling, wrestling is a very different experience. 

“Wrestling is only six minutes and soccer is 90 minutes, and I would say wrestling is a lot harder. Compared to soccer, it’s just a lot different, there’s so much more pressure on yourself, and just being fit is totally different.”

The new program has recruited some brand new coaches to City High. Ryan Ahlers began wrestling in seventh grade, and continued all throughout high school. Now, he has stepped into a new role as City High’s head coach for girls wrestling. 

Ahlers recounts his first experiences as a wrestling coach. 

“There was a lot of basic teaching that coach Jeff Koenig and I had to do which was really fun. I really enjoy that aspect of coaching wrestling, because there’s a lot of teaching what to do and what not to do in certain positions. Our team is a group that I think understood that wrestling will be a challenging sport, but they were ready for the challenge. Going in knowing that and still having a positive attitude and a growth mindset was huge.”

Coach Ahlers has noticed Claire’s hard working attitude in practice this season. 

“From the beginning of the season Claire has been focused on the sport and what she can do in the sport, which was really cool to see from the first practice of the year. Claire is extremely hardworking and she is already starting to figure out how to work hard in wrestling to improve. It’s showing in her matches, but also in practice too. She’s starting to look more comfortable in different positions in wrestling”. 

Claire describes her experiences during the wrestling practices. 

“They’re intense. There is a lot of conditioning. With wrestling, you don’t have time to walk through the motions because our season is so short, and we have so many back-to back meets.”

Despite the physical challenges of wrestling, the girls have been able to continue to work hard through their positive team environment. 

“Everyone always supports everyone during every match, and when somebody does something good or bad, there’s always somebody there to support you”, said Claire Brown. 

Coach Ahlers acknowledges Claire’s leadership and encouraging efforts as a teammate.

“Claire sets a good example of hard work and focus. Just those simple things of cheering for teammates and also helping instruct them during a match. When your teammates are doing that, that’s a really good feeling, and that’s something I’ve seen from Claire a lot this season”.

The girls wrestling state tournament was held January 21-22 at X-Stream arena. Coach Ahlers described his expectations for Claire at the state tournament. 

“I just want to see her go out and wrestle hard in every single match and see where that gets her. I think if she does that, she’ll be really happy with her results after the weekend.”

Although Claire did not end up placing at state, Ahlers acknowledges Claire’s success throughout the season. 

“Being 11-2 is incredible for this being her first year out. I don’t think Claire has done little kids wrestling, so to come into a new sport that you’ve never done before, that physical, it takes endurance, it takes muscular strength , and it takes a lot of mental strength too.”

Iowa is making history this year by officially sanctioning girls wrestling as a sport by the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union.