BILLINGS — Glory Konecny says, "I can't imagine my life without wrestling."
The Billings West senior will not have to. While she will graduate from high school this year, Konecny will get the opportunity to participate in the sport in college.
On Sunday at the Billings Wrestling Club, Konecny signed with Southern Oregon University. She will wrestle on the women's team beginning next season at the school in Ashland, Oregon, and is projected to compete at 116 pounds. Konecny was a varsity wrestler the past two seasons for the Golden Bears and qualified for the state tournament both years.
Konecny is believed to be the first female from Billings to sign with a college wrestling program. Last year, Abi Gontarek of Laurel was the first women's wrestling recruit for the University of Providence in Great Falls.
"I went on a visit to them the first week of March and I really loved it there," Konecny said. " It's a good program. They have some good girls.
"I've been wrestling boys for 12 years now. I feel like I owe it to myself to wrestle in college with girls."
Konecny's coach at West High, Jeremy Hernandez, said he knows his former 113-pound wrestler will succeed at the college level.
"I'm excited for her. I think she will do really well at the next level," Hernandez said. "She is well prepared and has been wrestling against the boys forever. Now she is strictly wrestling against females. She has done pretty well. She placed at Fargo last year. I'm excited to see how well she does."
This past year, Konecny placed eighth at the CMR Holiday Classic at 120 pounds and was fifth at the Eastern AA seeding meet at 113 pounds.
"I truly believe in her abilities and was inspired by her passion for the sport," added Joe Giacomini, who has coached Konecny since sixth grade at the BWC.
While Konecny feels she is prepared to wrestle at the next level, she said "I definitely know there is a lot of pressure on me to perform well in the wrestling room. I've been wrestling boys for so long that everyone expects me to go wrestle girls and destroy them, but there is a lot of talent there people don't realize. But, wrestling boys is still an advantage."
On Thursday, Konecny will be at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs to train for four days in preparation for the Junior World Team Trials in May in Texas. She also plans on competing at the Asics Vaughan Cadet and Junior Nationals in Fargo, N.D., July 12-21. One of Konecny's goals is to get stronger before entering college. She also said she will shift strategies. Since she's wrestled in traditional brackets for most of her life, Konecny has been a defensive wrestler. Now that she'll be only wrestling females in college, she said "I'm ready to work on being an offensive wrestler and making it my match."
Signing with the Raiders is just the first step for Konecny, who plans to double major in business and computer science.
"I definitely want to see how far I can take wrestling and have big dreams when it comes to that," she said. "I think every wrestler wants to be an Olympian."