Iowa boy defaults, won't wrestle a girl
DES MOINES, Iowa - A standout Iowa high school wrestler refused to compete against a girl at the state tournament yesterday, relinquishing any chance of becoming a champion because he says wrestling a girl would conflict with his religious beliefs.
Joel Northrup, a home-schooled sophomore who was 35-4 wrestling for Linn-Mar High School this season, praised his first-round opponent, Cedar Falls freshman Cassy Herkelman, and Ottumwa sophomore Megan Black, who became the first two girls to make the state wrestling tournament in its 85-year history.
But in a news release, he said he defaulted on his match with Herkelman because he doesn't think boys and girls should compete in the sport.
"I have a tremendous amount of respect for Cassy and Megan and their accomplishments. However, wrestling is a combat sport and it can get violent at times," said Northrup. "As a matter of conscience and my faith I do not believe that it is appropriate for a boy to engage a girl in this manner. It is unfortunate that I have been placed in a situation not seen in most other high school sports in Iowa."
When the referee raised Herkelman's hand to signal her win there was a smattering of cheers and boos from the crowd before Herkelman was whisked away.
Tournament organizers declined to make Herkelman available for questions. She entered the tournament with a 20-13 record and will wrestle today in the quarterfinals of the 112-pound weight class.
Her father, Bill Herkelman, told The Associated Press via text message that "I sincerely respect the decision of the Northrup family especially since it was made on the biggest stage in wrestling. I have heard nothing but good things about the Northrup family and hope Joel does very well the remainder of the tourney."
Black, who also wrestles at 112 pounds and was 25-13 entering the tournament, was eliminated after being pinned in both of her matches.