In Des Moines, Iowa this week, a 14-year-old freshman by the name of Cassy Herkelman became the first girl to win a match at the Iowa state high school wrestling tournament. Impressive? Sure. However, she did not even wrestle in the match and instead was awarded the match by default, which is disappointing considering how anti-climactic it was and, the obvious, if she had wrestled, no one would have known who was going to win until the match was over. So why was she awarded the win via default? Just ask Joey Northrup, who was scheduled to wrestle Herkelman in the final but chose not to for religious reasons.
Northrup, a 16-year-old home-schooled sophomore, balked at the notion of wrestling a girl reasoning that “”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.”
Northrup went on to say, “I have a tremendous amount of respect for Cassy and Megan (Megan Black is the only other female entrant in the tournament) and their accomplishments.”
So, he has so much respect for Herkelman that he chose not to wrestle against her? That’s quite the opposite of respect, if you ask me. If it wasn’t as if Herkelman casually walked by and was ordered to fight against her will. Herkelman entered this tournament knowing what was at stake and, having beaten 20 of her last 33 opponents (all boys), it’s safe to say that she was ready for any and all competition, knowing full well that she would have to face off against all boys to get to the championship.
The Herkelman family and a lot of spectators say that they praise Northrup for his decision. Why? This was a tournament and every participant in the tournament knew full well what they were getting into. If someone didn’t want to wrestle, then that was up to that individual and not their opponent.
Herkelman knew what she was doing. She came this far beating all boys so why would she stop now? I obviously don’t know how Herkelman actually feels about this but if I were in her situation, I would have been insulted as Northrup’s reason not to wrestle was because he didn’t take girls seriously.
This sparks an age-old argument whether females should be allowed playing with males in any sport. I’ve always felt that females deserve as much opportunity as any male does and this particular case is no different.
If there’s one thing Northrup’s good at, it’s stating the obvious as, like previously mentioned, he said wrestling was “a combat sport” and “it can get violent at times.” Really? That’s like not wanting to play football because there’s a good chance you’re going to get hit.
I don’t know Joey Northrup or what exactly his religious beliefs entail but to not to wrestle someone for the fact that she’s a girl just isn’t a good enough reason. No one was going to label Northrup as a “woman abuser” had he wrestled Herkelman. In fact, if Northrup had won the tournament, I’m sure he would’ve gained so much respect and admiration from the state of Iowa. Unfortunately for Northrup, that’s not the case because a girl stood in his way.
Congratulations to Cassy Herkelman on making history in the tournament. However, I’m sure she would have much preferred to win the match the right way.