PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) – Arnold High School senior, Valarie Solorio committed to the University of Iowa, where she will join the program just a year after its historic inception.
Solorio began her high school career as a freshman at Arnold and then transferred to Mosley as a sophomore where she won the first-ever FHSAA sanctioned girls wrestling state championship.
As a junior, Solorio moved to her previous home in Pennsylvania, where she won a second individual state title and a team state championship in her junior year. But she never forgot the Panhandle.
“It’s not always where you are that’s the reason why you’re as good as you are, it’s kind of the journey,” Solorio said. “And for me, a lot of my journey was obviously in the Panhandle.”
On top of the state titles, Solorio won a Fargo National title and qualified for both Team USA and Team Mexico (where she holds dual citizenship) to give her an opportunity to compete in the Pan American Games.
However, Solorio said she is not done building her resume.
“I want to be someone that’s good enough to go I want to see if I can make a few world teams,” Solorio said. “You know, one day that would be ultimately a goal of mine. I want a few national titles in college and hopefully make the Olympics one day.”
Before the Olympic level, Solorio wants to wrestle in college. Division One is a no-brainer for one of the top recruits in the nation, but she never knew where until the past year.
The University of Iowa, home of the second most men’s wrestling national championships in the NCAA, introduced a women’s program in 2021, and its first season competing will be the 2023-2024 season.
Iowa is the first ever Power Five college in the nation to introduce a women’s wrestling team.
“Whenever (Iowa) got a team, it was it was kind of mesmerizing to everyone,” Solorio said. “Everyone was kind of shocked and excited. I didn’t hear much of it until it was a real thing, but whenever they did get one, I was like, ‘Wow, I need to work. I need to work a lot. I need to work super hard. Like, I want I want to be someone that goes to Iowa.'”
On September 30, Solorio’s 18th birthday, she verbally committed to become an Iowa Hawkeye after she graduates.
Unfortunately for Arnold’s trophy case, she’ll be moving back to Pennsylvania to finish up her high school career.
“I feel like a lot of the reason I am the person I am today and the wrestler I am today is because I lived in Florida,” Solorio said “And a lot of people might not believe that.”
Solorio has been a trailblazer for girls high school wrestling in the Panhandle, and a year from now, she’ll be wearing the most coveted women’s college wrestling jersey in the country.
Paving a path for those behind her, however, is something Solorio will never take for granted.
“I just hope I make a difference in a lot of little girl’s lives right now,” Solorio said. “I just hope they look up to me and say, ‘Wow, Val is at Iowa so one day I want to go to Iowa and help grow that program.'”
Before moving back to Pennsylvania at the end of October, Solorio will continue to be on the football and volleyball sidelines with the Arnold Marlins cheerleading team.