FRANKSVILLE, Wisc. — It might be 2022, but there are still walls to tear down and for women in sports to break into.
"When I was younger, I was typically the only girl in the room. I didn't have female partners. I didn't have girls to wrestle against. There was no such thing as female tournaments unless I drove other places," says Kylie Welker, Junior World Champion Wrestler, and Iowa Commit.
Welker's journey may have started by following in her sibling's footsteps.
"I started wrestling when I was four. My older brother kinda got me into it. I just followed him out to the wrestling practice and everything. That's how I got started and then everything took off from there," said Welker.
But as Iowa's first-ever women's wrestling commit, Welker is no longer following but leading the way for other female wrestlers.
"I want to achieve everything that I can in college, between national titles, team titles, I want to continue the legacy of Iowa wrestling on the female side. Then during the 2024 Olympics, I also want to win that, so I want to do pretty much all that you can in the sport of wrestling all within these couple next years," said Welker.
A 2021 Junior World Champion, you can not set limits for the Franksville native, nor can you put a cap on the sport she loves.
"Now you go to a tournament and it's hard not to see a female. It's hard not to walk into a wrestling room and see girls. It's just grown so much and it's going to continue to grow which is exciting," said Welker.
That's because Welker isn't just focused on her success, she also coaches wrestlers across Wisconsin.
"I'm in a position right now where I can help grow the sport along with help the younger generation. If I had someone in my spot when I was their age, like if I had someone to look up to that was coaching me and also a female, it would have changed my perspective completely, it would have helped me. So I just want to create opportunities for the younger ones," said Welker.
Just like her older brother, she has a shadow or two of her own. This time it was her little sister Savannah who tagged along.
"She's a twin, so she has a sister and I have two younger brothers and the older brother as well," said Welker.
Before you ask, yes Savannah wrestles; and nothing would make Welker happier than to watch her become better and stronger.
"One of the biggest things that I preach to girls is set your goals high and expect nothing less. That's kind of what I tell everybody. If you think and set your goals to the unthinkable, and expect nothing less, you are going to achieve high things," said Welker.
Knowing that, we'll check in with Welker in 2024 when she's preparing for the Olympics.