Cassy Herkelman: Why Joel Northrup Refused to Wrestle a Girl

Freshman Cassy Herkelman and a sophomore named Megan Black made history. They were the first two girls ever to be able to compete in the Iowa state wrestling tournament. There has never been a girl competitor  in the 85-years that the tournament has taken place.

And Cassy Herkleman won her first round, easily. Very easily. The young lady was set to wrestle high-school student Joel Northrup but he forfeited the match saying that he would not wrestle a girl. Why? He said in a statement that:

“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,” he said. “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.”

Cassy’s dad, Bill Herkelman, sent a text to the AP saying he “understands and respects” Joel Northrup choice.

“It’s nice to get the first win and have her be on the way to the medal round,” Bill Herkelman wrote. “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.”

And it wasn’t a casual decision, by forfeiting the match up, Northup may ruin his chances for advancing in the tournament.

It really is a double edged sword.  We want our daughters to have all the same opportunities and experiences as their fellow peers and students but when it comes to a match up between a girl and boy wrestling, just on a physical level there are some issues. In professional wrestling a male vs. female match is rare. So why are these teenagers being asked to wrestle one another? Northup may have not wanted to hit the mat with Hekelman for religious reasons, but there are other reasons why a girl/boy wrestling match could be construed as inappropriate from the difference in physically strength to the awkwardness of raging hormones.

Do you see any issue with our sons and daughters wrestling each other in the ring?

Photo: By Andrew Spearin via Flickr

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