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First Female Wrestlers in Iowa State Tournament

WrestlingI wrestled back in middle school and high school. I was never great, but I wrestled varsity many of those years and won more matches than I lost*. My senior year, two girls decided to join the team. This was the first time it had ever happened at my high school. Before the season started, the rest of the team talked about it a bit. We wondered if it was appropriate to wrestle a girl, and whether or not they should be on the team. Well, as soon as practices started up, it just kind of fell into place. They were just two more wrestlers, and were treated just about like everybody else on the team (with the exception of using a different locker room and getting weighed in separately). It turned out to not be a big deal at all. One of the girls was pretty good for her first year. Obviously, they were wrestling JV, but this girl won a lot of her matches, and even pinned a couple of her opponents. This was all about 15 years ago.

Fast forward to the present day, and two girls share the honor of being the first female wrestlers to make it to the Iowa state tournament, Cassy Herkelman and Megan Black, both in the 112 lb weight class. Making it to the state tournament is a big accomplishment anywhere, but especially in Iowa where wrestling is so popular.

Unfortunately, not everyone is happy about girls wrestling. Sophomore, Joel Northrup, Herkelman's opponent in the first round, refused to wrestle her. Afterwards, he had the following to say.

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. As a matter of conscience and 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.

So, some kid's citing his religion to refuse to wrestle his opponent, and then playing the victim card to try to gain sympathy.

Look. Girls who go into wrestling understand the risks just like boys do. They've made the decision that they accept those risks. And girls such as Herkelman and Black have obviously put in a lot of effort. You don't make it to the state tournament just by signing up. You have to practice, practice, practice, and then practice some more, not to mention all the conditioning. Herkelman and Black are legitimate opponents. And don't forget that wrestling is done by weight class. It's not as if 112 pound girls are wrestling 200 pound boys. Everybody wrestles opponents similar to their own weight. Northrup's refusal to wrestle Herkelman simply because she's female is more than a little patronizing.

I don't think it's unfortunate at all that Northrup was put in the position he was. Actually, I take that back. I think it's unfortunate that he was raised the way he was to think he had to react the way he did. If he had been raised to see women as equals, instead of inferior specimens in need of protection, he wouldn't have had a problem wrestling Herkelman. So yes, it is a shame that the circumstances in this boy's life have led to this situation. But it's not unfortunate at all that girls are now being successful enough to qualify for the state tournament.

If you want to read more about this, you can read the articles from Fox Sports or Yahoo. The Fox Sports article even had a poll on whether boys should wrestle girls. Around 3/4 of the respondents don't think they should. I wouldn't recommend reading the comments from the articles, though. It's not good for the blood pressure.

So, congratulations to Cassy Herkelman, Megan Black, and all the other wrestlers who have made the tournament. Good luck, and may the best wrestlers win.


* To brag just a little, I wrestled varsity my last year of middle school, once or twice my freshman year of high school when the older boy in my weight class got injured, and then my sophomore, junior, and senior years, lettering those last three years, and placing 3rd place in the county tournament my junior year (plus a few 3rd and 4th place finishes in other tournaments throughout my 'career'). I got injured towards the end of my senior year, so I didn't finish out that season, and didn't get to wrestle in the county tournament that year. So, I was a little better than average, but not near good enough to go on to wrestle in college. All of the wrestlers mentioned in this entry are far better than I ever was.

Comments

He was probably worried that all his repressed pent up sexual frustration would, um, well, pop up. If he liked it he would burn in hell, or something like that. Either that or he was afraid of getting whooped by a girl with better skills.

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