IOWA CITY, Iowa – NAIA national finalist Nanea Estrella will transfer to the University of Iowa women’s wrestling program, head coach Clarissa Chun announced Wednesday. Estrella will join the Hawkeyes after wrestling one season at Menlo (Calif.) College.
“Being from Hawaii, I have watched Nanea wrestle since she was in ninth grade,” said Chun. “I was happy when she went to Menlo, but was sad, knowing I wouldn’t have the opportunity to work with her.
“When I was announced as Iowa’s head coach, Nanea reached out and went through the transfer process. I am excited to add her to our program as I have seen her grow in the sport. She’s a tenacious competitor and likes challenging herself.
“When she was in high school, she’d move up in weight classes because she wanted to be the best pound-for-pound wrestler in the state. She is a competitor that will embrace the Iowa philosophy and expectations.”
During the 2021-22 season, Estrella finished as the national runner-up at 130 pounds, helping Menlo to a third-place team finish, and she was the Cascade Collegiate Conference champion. The All-CCC selection finished the season with an 18-2 record and was named the NAIA Women’s Wrestler of the Week on Jan. 19.
“I chose the University of Iowa to optimize every opportunity I have. Academically and athletically, I can’t imagine a better fit for me. The Mecca of wrestling! Nowhere else, but Iowa.”Nanea Estrella
“I chose the University of Iowa to optimize every opportunity I have,” said Estrella. “Academically and athletically, I can’t imagine a better fit for me. The Mecca of wrestling! Nowhere else, but Iowa.”
Estrella also took third at the UWW U23 National Championships in 2021 and won the UWW Junior national title in 2020. She was the runner-up at the 2019 Junior National Championship and 2018 Cadet National Championships, while taking third at the Cadet World Team Trials in 2019. She also won both the freestyle and Greco-Roman at the 2019 Western Regionals.
The Makawao, Hawaii, native prepped at Lahainaluna High School, where she was a four-time state champion. She was ranked second at 132 pounds in the National Girls High School rankings and was ranked in the top 10 nationally for three straight seasons. She was team captain for three straight seasons.
Estrella was the recipient of the 2020 Tricia Saunders National High School Women’s Wrestling Excellence Award.
Estrella will redshirt and compete unattached in 2022-23. Iowa announced in September 2021 it would become the first Division I Power Five school to add women’s wrestling. The Hawkeyes begin competing in 2023-24.
2022 Signing Class
Nanea Estrella (Makawao, Hawaii)
Brianna Gonzalez (San Lorenza, California)
Emilie Gonzalez (San Lorenza, California)
Reese Larramendy (Reno, Nevada)
Ella Schmidt (Bettendorf, Iowa)
Nyla Valencia (Morgan Hill, California)
Kylie Welker (Franksville, Wisconsin)