WSU’s two time All-American wrestler: Julie Wilson

Wilson led WSU wrestling to new heights in 2023 as a sophomore



Julie Wilson, an All-American Wrestler for WSU.

GABRIELLE BOWMAN, Evergreen news co-editor

When Julie Wilson started wrestling in seventh grade, it was not a sport she had been interested in.

She played softball and soccer and attended her brother’s wrestling matches. His coaches tried to get her to join the team because of her athleticism but she refused. One day in one of her middle school classes, her teacher presented a video about the first-ever female wrestler; that’s when it dawned on her.

“You know what, that’s actually kinda cool. I feel like maybe I should try it out,” she said in retrospect.

Now a sophomore at WSU, Wilson is a two-time All-American and an academic All-American for the WSU women’s wrestling team. The team recently returned from the National Collegiate Wrestlers Association National Tournament in Puerto Rico where Wilson achieved her second All-American title.

The wrestling team’s practice room is in the Physical Education Building on WSU’s Pullman campus. Walking into the building down the hall and to the left is the wrestling practice room. Invigorating music is blasting as wrestlers are practicing for their next competition.

Wilson is in the room giving it her all during practice as she finds a way to escape from the stressful day of being a college student, she said.

However, the feeling of practicing is very different from the setting on competition day. When Wilson is preparing to compete nerves run up and down her spine.

“My stomach starts like churning and I can’t get myself to eat anything. Usually I have to force food down the night before,” Wilson said.

When it is her turn to compete Wilson has to warm herself up to enter the right headspace. She jumps around and does a couple of bouts leading up to stepping foot on the mat.

“You know, you got to wrestle smart, you got to stay in position,” she says to herself minutes before her matches.

Wilson grew up in Mount Vernon where her wrestling career began.

When she told her brother and father she was planning to sign up for the team, they laughed at her, she said.

However, the very next day she applied and started to compete soon after did and started to compete.

“My family was definitely supportive, but they didn’t expect for me to stick with it,” she said.

She said joining wrestling was also a way to prove to her dad she is tough and now she believes her family is very proud of her.

“I think they’re happy I enjoy it so much and they’re happy I enjoy it so much and they really enjoy watching me compete, and help pave a way for more girls to be able to wrestle too,” Wilson said.

It was not Wilson’s plan to go into college wrestling but coaches started to recruit her after she got sixth place in the state in her junior year of high school.

She received scholarship offers from many universities, however, she wanted to stay in state and go into engineering but most of the schools that recruited her did not offer this program.

What intrigued her about WSU was the fact they offered her major and had a club women’s wrestling team.

WSU’s wrestling coach Phil Burnett also played a significant factor in her decision.

“You can’t put into words what this girl means to our family and she’s not done. She’s gonna win a couple of national titles and she has the opportunity to be our very first four-time All-American,” he said.

Burnett had an unexpected connection to Wilson before she even thought about attending WSU. Wilson’s driver instructor in high school was Burnett’s childhood friend, which was how they first bonded when he recruited her.

“I told her, I said, ‘Julie you have an opportunity to be the face of a brand new women’s wrestling team. It’s at WSU,’ and that’s exactly what she has done,” he said.


Not only has Wilson become an All-American in wrestling she has also become a mentor for many people on her team.

Wilson was one of the first people that reached out to Sarah Plummer when a coach contacted her, Plummer said.

“I came and visited campus and she was nice enough to take me around,” Plummer said.

This aspect about Wilson stays with her to this day, Burnett said.

“Julie is kinda like an assistant coach to me; she’s always helping the girls because of her high-level technique,” Burnett said.

This technique proved useful when in her freshman year, Wilson became an All-American when she scored third at the NCWA nationals.

However, this would not end as she scored second place at nationals this year and received two All-American titles for wrestling and academics.

Even with these achievements under her belt, she is not done yet, Burnett said.

Even with the wrestling season lasting six months, Wilson finds ways to stay motivated, and helping the other members of the team is one of the ways, she said.

“My favorite thing is to be coaching, I really hope to do that someday actually,” Wilson said.

To be like Wilson it is not about how good someone is physically, it is about mentality.

“To be a wrestler I think it takes determination the most. You have to be willing to want to be there. If you don’t want to be there, you lose a lot of like time and effort,” she said. “You have to be willing to cheer on your teammates because that is definitely something that I always believed my whole heart in.”