Girl Wrestler in Iowa Wins State Match by Default
The crowd cheered as Cassy Herkelman's hand was raised, but the historic moment of the first girl wrestler to win a match at the traditional Iowa state wrestling meet comes with an asterisk.
Her opponent, Joel Northrup of Linn-Mar of Marion, declined to wrestle her.
Northrup did not speak with the media, but did release a written statement:
"I have a tremendous amount of respect for Cassy and Megan (Black, the tournament's other female entrant) and their accomplishments. However, wrestling is a combat sport and it can get violent at times. 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 of the high school sports in Iowa."
Linn-Mar Athletic Director Scott Mahmens did speak with the media, and said Northrup's parents are not at the tournament. Mahmens added that nobody from the school tried to influence Northrup, who is home schooled, to wrestle or not wrestle.
"He's a Linn-Mar Lion, and we're going to support what he's doing," Mahmens said. "Obviously his beliefs are more important to him (than a chance at a state title)."
Alan Beste of the Iowa High School Athletic Association told reporters Herkelman would not make a statement Thursday.
Black did wrestle, losing by fall to Bettendorf's Logan Ryan of Bettendorf, getting pinned in 52 seconds.
-Mike Malloy, Des Moines Register