Grappling With Equality: Talented duo will lead girls team in its inaugural season

Courtesy photo

Glenrock High School freshmen wrestlers Gillian Holman (from left) and Lucy Ticknor pose for a duo photo at the Iowa Wrestling Nationals.

RJ Morgan

“Boys look at us and see us one of two ways - either we are equal to them or they see us girls as an easy win,” Glenrock wrestler Gillian Holman said. “One boy treated me like I would be easy (to beat) at a tournament this summer, so I did a move called a ‘cement mixer’ and about took his head off. I beat him in 15 seconds.”


While that instance had a winning result, it’s one of several reasons mixing genders after a certain age has  its disadvantages in wrestling.

That will no longer be a problem in the Cowboy State and the timing could not be better, as Glenrock High School will field its first-ever varsity girls’ team this winter.

The high school sports landscape changed in April when the Wyoming High School Activities Association (WHSAA) voted – and approved – the addition of girls’ wrestling after the eight-school participation minimum was reached. Before the inaugural season even begins, that number has already grown to more than a dozen.

Count Glenrock in.

Known as the Equality State, Wyoming continues to even the playing field for girls. Two years ago WHSAA added softball.

Girls have been forced to compete with boys since 1998, but not anymore. That’s great news for the Herders’ program, which will hit the mat running with at least two experienced girls when the season starts in November.



Freshmen Gillian Holman and Lucy Ticknor have different backgrounds in the sport, however, their journey will be the same in leading Herder female wrestling into the history books.

“The team might be kind of small at first, but we hope more girls will join after we get started and (they) see us,” Holman said. “Coaches have said some schools our size, like Wright, will have like 20 girls. We want to be like that.”

Giving girls an even chance on the mat and giving them the opportunity to build their own team like the boys team has been in the works for years.

The director of female wrestling at the Wyoming Amateur Wrestling Association (WAWA), Jessica Brenton, has played a big role in getting  WHSAA to add girls wrestling. She’s also a former four-time All-American who has also helped coach Ticknor and Holman at USA Wrestling events.

Though Glenrock will be starting the program from scratch, head coach Coley Wondra will have two dedicated 14-year-olds to build around. Ticknor and Holman have their share of successes in the sport, although their experiences at young ages vary greatly.



Ticknor’s been competing since third grade. She has gained valuable lessons while grappling with boys and girls as a member of the Glenrock Wrestling Club, as well as on the middle school team.

Competing against boys doesn’t faze Ticknor because it’s become normal.

“I don’t mind. It’s been like that in school and with the club,” Ticknor said.

She was one victory shy of earning All-American honors this year.

“I like that we will have just girls now in high school. It will be exciting to see more girls start wrestling.”

Her mom, Kelsey Ticknor, has not seen too many problems with the genders mixed on a team, except the typical size advantages.

“Most of the coaches we have seen are prepared for situations where boys have a problem wrestling a girl or refuse to,” she said. “They are used to it and usually squash it right away.”

Along with her favorite sport, Ticknor has in the past played volleyball and ran track. However, she surprised her parents this year by dropping volleyball in her first season of high school, but will continue to run track in the spring.

“We didn’t see it coming because she enjoyed volleyball,” her mom said. “Lucy said she wanted to run cross country because she was told it would help her in wrestling.”

Ticknor has been making the most of running and making the new sport her offseason wrestling training. She is often first on her cross country team.



Holman, already an All-American recipient, doesn’t have the same wrestling background as Ticknor. In fact, she was in ballet for nine years before she decided to flex her strength on a mat.

The Glenrock native started grappling last year on the eighth grade team where she fell in love with the sport. She went on to compete with the Glenrock Wrestling Club where she earned first place at a regional event and fourth at state.

“It’s probably my favorite sport. It’s not like the other sports where you have to rely on teammates,” she explained. 

“Wrestling is between you and one other person. How you do depends on only yourself. One thing is for sure, if you are not mentally strong and tough, you will not win in wrestling,” she stated.

The biggest change Holman faced was getting used to competing against boys. Since she is new to the sport, it’s been an adjustment that didn’t last too long.

“I only started wrestling last year but I’ve wrestled almost all boys,” she said. “I can probably tell you the names of the girls I have wrestled because it’s not very many. I could never remember the boys. I’m glad it won’t be that way for long. Boys naturally have more muscle. It’s always an advantage for them. And some of them think girls aren’t a challenge.”



Holman and Ticknor took advantage of many wrestling opportunities this summer in preparation for their first-ever girls team this winter at Glenrock. One of the biggest experiences was traveling to the Iowa Nationals as part of Team Wyoming Girls Club where they had the unique chance to wrestle against the best in the country.

“Team Wyoming never had enough to send a girls team, but this year we did and we got invited,” Holman said enthusiastically.

Being a apart of the USA Wrestling program, the Herder duo made clear their commitment to the sport over the summer. Combined, they wrestled at tournaments and trained at three camps in Wyoming and Colorado.

“I learned so much since last year. There is so much to wrestling – physically and mentally,” Holman said. “You have to be strong in both to win.”

After a spring and summer filled with wrestling lessons and matches, Holman and Ticknor will carry that knowledge into the first season of girls wrestling at The Rock. That’s when they hope to pin successful results and pave the way for future Herders to join the newest team on campus.

“We will be small but we are up to the challenge,” Holman said.



With wrestling being one of the nation’s fastest-growing sports among females, Wyoming officially joined the growing selection of states that hold high school girls wrestling championships and will begin holding its own during the next school year. 

Wyoming is the 36th state to sanction girls’ wrestling, following neighboring states Montana, Nebraska, Idaho, Utah, Colorado and South Dakota. Hawaii was the first state to sanction the sport back in 1998.


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