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Cameron Smith

Record-setting Iowa female wrestler's state tourney run ends

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

A little more than 24 hours after Cassy Herkelman made history by recording the first victory for a female in the Iowa state wrestling tournament, she was eliminated from the event following two consecutive losses.

Herkelman was defeated twice in the double-elimination tournament on Friday, falling in the second round to Indianola (Iowa) High's Matt Victor by a 5-1 score and falling by pin in the first period against Des Moines (Iowa) Hoover High's Jordan Jones. Afterwards, she spoke to assembled media, including WHO-TV, about her tough second day and the forfeit.

"After districts I knew [the media attention] was going to be crazy here," Herkelman told the press. "[Northrup] has the right to make his own choice, and it's not like he did what he didn't want to do."

For Herkelman, the second day of the competition was much more rigorous than the first, in which she received credit for a victory without having to physically defeat another wrestler on the mat. Northrup's forfeit received national attention here and elsewhere, with commenters, callers to sports radio shows, and other wrestlers and their parents all coming down on different sides of the issue.

While Herkelman finished with a 1-2 overall record, the other female contestant in the 112-pound division, Ottumwa sophomore Megan Black, had an even more trying tournament. The first-time state qualifier fell in both of her bouts on Thursday, leading to her elimination on the first day of the event.

The Associated Press reported that Black watched Herkelman's bouts from the stands on Friday, cheering her on despite the setbacks.

"She tried hard, so that's good," Black told the Associated Press.

As for Northrup, his father, Jamie Northrup, spoke to the Des Moines Register about his son's decision not to face off against Herkelman, costing himself a shot at a state title in the process.

"We spent a couple of days agonizing over this," Jamie Northrup told the Register. "And just giving to Joel to really allow him to make the decision. Joel made the decision that he felt was the right decision, and it aligned with his beliefs and his values and conscience."

Joel Northrup -- who was also eliminated after a second-round loss on Friday -- is home-schooled by Jamie Northrup, a youth pastor and volunteer chaplain for the U.S. Army, and his mother, Sara, but competes for the Linn-Mar (Iowa) High wrestling team, which is his local public high school. Throughout the lead-up to his forfeit on Thursday, Northrup cited his faith as the primary reason why he felt it was inappropriate for him to wrestle against a girl.

"I don't believe there are any specific pieces of Scripture that address this particular issue," Jamie Northrup told the Register. "But as men, the Bible talks to us about loving our wives, protecting our families, being there, as an older brother, just to protect his home and his sisters.

"And so, I would say that's more of a principle that we're following. We just don't believe that in a combat sport, a boy should be going against a girl in this manner."

Still, a day after the forfeit, Herkelman's father, Bill, insisted that he and his daughter had absolutely no ill-will toward the Northrups, despite all the additional focus the incident has put on both families.

"I know Cassy [was] disappointed not to get on the mat with him," Bill Herkelman told the Register. "But it's their belief, they're very strict in that, and I support that.

"I'd like to meet [Northrup's] dad. I'd like to shake his hand."

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