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Male high school athlete says no to wrestling girl

by Derrick Johnson on February 18, 2011

Joel Northrup, a sophomore wrestler with a 354 record, defaulted in the first round of the Iowa state tournament after declining to wrestle Cassy Herkelman, a female wrestler, reports the Associated Press.

"I have a tremendous amount of respect for Cassy and Megan [another girl wrestler] 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."

By defaulting, Joel Northrup gives up his chance at the state title. Cassy Herkelman moves on to the next round.

"I sincerely respect the decision of the Northrup family, especially since it was made on the biggest stage in wrestling," Cassy's father, Bill, told the news source. "I have heard nothing but good things about the Northrup family and hope Joel does very well the remainder of the tourney."

Northrup's father is a Pentecostal minister whose church believes that "young men and women shouldn't touch in a 'familiar way.'"

"We believe in the elevation and respect of woman and we don't think that wrestling a woman is the right thing to do. Body slamming and takedowns, that full contact sport is not how to do that," pastor of the church Bill Randles, told the news outlet.

While Northrup and Herkelman did not wrestle each other, another male-female pair did.

Megan Black, the other girl to qualify for the tournament, lost to Logan Ryan in the first mixed-gender match in the state tournament's history, according to the Des Moines Register.

Joel Northrup had refused to wrestle Megan Black three years ago.

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