High School Sports

High School Sports

Iowa girl respects boy who woudn’t wrestle her

February 19, 2011


— Cassy Herkelman would have rather wrestled Joel Northrup than to become by default the first girl to ever win a match in Iowa’s state tournament. But the 14-year-old said Friday she didn’t feel slighted when he refused to wrestle her because she was a girl.

Northrup’s decision garnered national publicity a day earlier, when the two were set to meet in a first-round match. Northrup, a favorite to win his 112-pound weight class, cited his religious beliefs and said he didn’t think it appropriate to engage with a girl in a combat sport that could get violent.

“He had the right to make his own choice, and he made his choice,” said Herkelman, one of two girls in this year’s tournament. “It’s not like he did what he didn’t want to do.”

Her father expressed similar sentiments shortly after his pony-tailed daughter was eliminated following losses in two matches Friday. Northrup, who moved into the consolation bracket after defaulting, also was knocked out of the tournament after a loss.

Bill Herkelman said his family held no ill will towards Northrup, a home-schooled sophomore who competes for Linn-Mar High School, or his family.

“That’s their belief, and I praise them for sticking to it. This is the biggest stage in wrestling in the state, I would say, and they stuck to their beliefs when it probably tested it the most,” he said. “It was probably a tough pill for him to swallow.”

Despite the media buzz, there was little reaction from the 6,000 spectators at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines when Herkelman lost her first match Friday. Focus was divided among the several other matches taking place during a tournament that attracts high school wrestlers from across Iowa.

Herkelman said it would be a “lot more fun and more exciting” if girls could wrestle other girls in Iowa instead of having to face boys. She had a 20-13 record at Cedar Falls High entering the tournament and thinks it would have been a close match between her and Northrup.

Ottumwa High School sophomore Megan Black, the only other girl to make the tournament in its 85-year history, watched both of Herkelman’s matches from the stands Friday. She was eliminated Thursday after losing both her matches.

“She tried hard, so that’s good,” Black said.

Herkelman’s teammates, KC Groomes and David Langley, said they’ve wrestled girls before without issue and praised Herkelman for her demeanor throughout the tournament.

“With all the pressure she had on her, I thought she did pretty good. She handled it pretty well and didn’t let it get to her head or anything,” Langley said.

On Thursday, Northrup said he respected Herkelman and Black but didn’t think he should compete against them.


Gary Denning 7 years, 2 months ago

If the sport is truly violent, why would he participate against a boy or a girl?

FloridaSunshine 7 years, 2 months ago

KU7679, you've watched high school wrestling matches and you don't think they can be extremely dangerous and violent? I'm SO glad my older son excelled in golf and swimming, my younger son excelled in the arts...school plays, a comedian, and always the talent of art, especially as a cartoonist. I don't know how parents ever "agree" to allow their sons (and now daughters) to wrestle. It's barbaric to me...on the level of boxing.

Again, to respond to your question, KU7679...I don't understand how you can ask that when the children see boxing, stupid fake wrestling which they think is real, and parents and coaches encouraging all of this...except the wrestling in the schools, to me, is worse than what the fake guys do, I suppose because these are CHILDREN!! thuja talks about brainwashing...I think the boy is the bright one in this case! Our society has been brainwashed into thinking it's ok to bash someone's head in. There's actually a so-called "sport" now (my son-in-law showed it to me on t.v.) and they do beat each other up until they're zombies. This is what we're teaching our children.

I have NO idea why young kids would want to participate in such dangerous actions (I refuse to call any of these barbaric scenarios a sport!!)...other than the fact that they have been taught it's ok....maybe it's also about letting out aggression against something going on in their lives...perhaps even physical or sexual abuse. Or it may be the feeling of invincibility many teens experience (driving too fast, driving while drinking, etc.)...they don't seem to "get" the concept of death. Some grow out of that type of thinking, others don't.

At any rate, for whatever reason, what we've done to our children is reprehensible.

WrestlingFan99_us 7 years, 2 months ago

That's why there are US, and you. It takes a special kid who loves to work hard day in and day out, throughout the year, putting himself, or herself, through a brutal wrestling regiment of bloody noses, bruises, and put downs from the rest of the community. But they never quit, because you just don't. They are a special breed that always suck it up, and drive on. When they grow up, they will be the ones who protect our country across the oceans, at our borders, in our states, in our country, and in your city. They are warriors at heart and love hard work. Go on with your golfing and painting, but know when you sleep at night, a wrestler is protecting you in some form or fashion.

"After wrestling, everything in life is easy.". Dan Gable (google it)

Hop2It 7 years, 2 months ago

"physical" sport...not a violent sport. Depending on your ability it takes unique blend of strength, speed, conditioning and technical skill.

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