COLUMBIA — After going 35-4 this season in Iowa high school wrestling, Joel Northrup forfeited his first match of the state tournament Thursday because he had to wrestle against a girl.
Northrup, a sophomore, said his religious beliefs wouldn't allow him to wrestle Cassy Herkelman, a freshman from Cedar Falls who is one of the first two girls to qualify for the tournament in its 85-year history. Herkelman notched 20 victories during the season.
"Wrestling is a combat sport and it can get violent at times," Northrup said in a statement released by his high school. "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."
In an article from the Associated Press, Herkelman responded to Northrup's decision. "He had the right to make his own choice, and he made his choice," she said. "It's not like he did what he didn't want to do."
Northrup's decision to default put Herkelman in the quarterfinals in the 112-pound weight class, and it put her name in the record book as the first girl to win an Iowa state tournament match. After that, Herkelman's next two opponents did wrestle against her. She lost both times, ultimately eliminated from the tournament.
Would you wrestle someone of the opposite sex?