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Iowa's Joel Northrup Defaults Instead of Wrestling Girl

A high school wrestler in Iowa has defaulted from the state tournament rather than facing a female opponent.

Joel Northrup, a 35-4 sophomore from Linn-Mar High School in West Des Moines, was a favorite heading into the postseason, but he says it wouldn't feel right to wrestle Cedar Falls freshman Cassy Herkelman, who has a 20-13 record. Northrup and Herkelman both wrestle in the 112- pound division.

Herkelman and Ottumwa sophomore Megan Black, who was 25-13, made history by being the first girls to qualify for the state tournament. Black was pinned quickly in her opening round match.

Northrup and Herkelman both wrestle in the 112-pound division.

"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," Northup wrote in a statement. "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 a text message to The Associated Press, Cassy's father, Bill Herkelman, said he understands Northup's decision.

"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 Northup family especially since it was made on the biggest stage in wrestling. I have heard nothing but good things about the Northup family and hope Joel does very well the remainder of the tourney."

Because Northrup "defaulted" instead of "forfeited," he's eligible to wrestle in the consolation rounds.


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