Regardless of what she does for the rest of her career, Cassy Herkelman is likely to be known for her first match in the Iowa state wrestling championships, where she became the first female to win a bout at the state meet when her opponent, Joel Northrup, withdrew rather than face her. That seminal moment may continue to follow Herkelman, but it hasn't slowed the budding female star's achievements, as she proved on Sunday at the United States Girls Wrestling Association's Iowa meet.
According to the Des Moines Register, Herkelman rolled to the 112-pound title with three consecutive victories, winning the girls wrestling state crown for a third straight year and advancing on to the girls wrestling national championships, where she'll also attempt to win a third consecutive title.
"Not to be cocky, but I haven't lost to a girl since second or third grade," Herkelman told the Register. "I do get nervous sometimes."
The Cedar Falls (Iowa) High junior was plenty nervous in her third bout, when she fell behind in the first period due to a takedown by Vanessa Smith, a new DeMoines resident who moved to the state from Texas, where she was also a co-ed wrestler. Yet, eventually Herkelman responded, pulling out a victory by pin in the third period.
While the state title may have been a familiar achievement for Herkelman, the junior is still adjusting to her newfound fame. At Sunday's championships she posed with some of the state's elementary school wrestlers and signed autographs for a number who formed an impromptu signature line.
The role of "inspirational hero" is still a new one for Herkelman, but it's one she's begun to appreciate because of the role she can play in the sport's development among girls as a whole.
"I've been told at least 50 times since [the Iowa state meet] that there's a lot of little girls looking up to me," Herkelman told the Register.
"[The attention] doesn't really bother me. People have been all over me since I qualified [for state], but I've found ways to get away from it."