A high school wrestler in Iowa refused to compete against a female opponent due to his Christian beliefs.
Upon hearing that the match would be with a girl in the state tournament, Joel Northrup decided to lose by default rather than compete against Cassy Herkelman.
The 112-pound wrestler explained, "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."
He continued, "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."
According to The Associated Press, the boy’s father is a minister at Believers in Grace Fellowship, an independent Pentecostal church in Marion. The church believes that young teens of opposite sex should not come in physical contact with each other in a “familiar way,” according to the church’s pastor.
Northrup’s pastor stated, "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."
The girl’s father, Bill Herkelman, told The Associated press, "It's nice to get the first win and have her be on the way to the medal round.
"I sincerely respect the decision of the Northrup family especially since it was made on the biggest stage in wrestling. I have heard nothing but good things about the Northrup family and hope Joel does very well the remainder of the tourney."
Although the home-schooled sophomore was allowed to compete in the consolations round, due to default and not forfeit, it is possible for him and Herkelman to be matched up again if they both make it to the finals.