Alaska native Michaela Hutchison can relate to Herkelman's journey and Northrup's difficult decision.
Hutchison became the first girl to win a high school state wrestling championship against boys in 2006. She said she heard about Herkelman story while listening to the radio and understands the perspective of Northrup, who opted to default rather than compete.
"He has rights, too," Hutchison said. "When I'm wrestling, I don't think about it being a girl and a boy, but he may not think that. That may not have been the way he was raised."
Hutchison, a national women's wrestling runner-up this season with Oklahoma City University, became the focus of a national story when she won her championship.
She didn't see the victory as a statement on gender issues, however. Hutchison was more interested in emulating older brother Eli, a four-time Alaskan champ now wrestling at Boise State.
"I could have cared less about being the first girl," she said. "I just wanted to follow in my brother's footsteps."