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February 23rd, 2011
03:45 PM ET

Wrestler who refused to grapple with girl explains decision

The high school wrestler in Iowa who forfeited a match against a girl in a state tournament last week says he objected both to "compromising" positions that such a match could entail and to the idea of inflicting violence on a girl.

“Wrestling is a combat sport, and at times it gets violent, and you get put in moves and holds that are comprising,” said Joel Northrup, a sophomore. “I just don’t believe it's right that a boy and a girl should, in this manner, wrestle.”

Northrup’s dad, Jamie, said that the decision to forfeit was his son’s alone but that it reflected the family’s Christian convictions.

“Even though there’s no specific Scripture that addresses wrestling with girls, there is the biblical Christian principle of treating women with respect and dignity,” Jamie Northrup said, “and not looking at them as objects to be defeated on the wrestling mat to be, in some cases, groped or slammed.”

Joel Northrup, of Linn-Mar, forfeited a match Thursday to Cassy Herkelman, a freshman from Cedar Falls, who then advanced by default.

Both Northrup and Herkelman lost subsequent matches and were eliminated from the tournament before the finals.

But Northrup said Wednesday that he would forfeit a match against a girl even if it meant giving up a state championship.

“I would give up the chance," he said. "I wouldn’t wrestle a girl, whether it’s finals or any other meet or districts.”

Northrup said female wrestlers should face other girls.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Sports • United States

soundoff (1,396 Responses)
  1. Jye75

    Yeah, THIS is worthy of being the TOP STORY. Nothing is more important than THIS.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
    • Hugo

      Why do you think this is the top story? The top story appears to be "Obama calls for international response to Libyan violence"

      February 23, 2011 at 10:36 pm |
    • Jye75

      Is it not in the center of the top of the page? Derp! There can be more than one top story, just so happens this one is more prominent than the Obama story. Get a life, and stop trolling.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
    • Hugo

      Please read your two posts, carefully. Are they consistent with each other? (Perhaps what you have is a typo.)

      February 23, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
  2. XWngLady

    Well, if she's at the state tournament, then she's not some fly-by-night poster girl for equal rights. You have to be good to make it to the state championships.....He just didn't want to get beat by a girl...period.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
    • Andy

      this was an iowa class 3a tournament the champs are still good but most of the wrestlers are average at best...this is a far cry form the iowa class 1a championships which has produced som eof the greatest wrestler ever

      February 23, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
    • Wrestling Official

      He should have been disqualified from the entire tournament. What's next for him? He will not wrestle someone he thinks is gay, because of his Christian upbringing. Maybe he should be home schooled to keep him from compromising positions.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
  3. Lapinski

    This guy has more honor than I did. When I was in high school wrestling I just assumed that they knew what they were getting into when they joined the sport and if they were matched against me, I wrestled them.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
  4. Ed M.

    I commend both.

    She held her own, deserved to be there, but avoided the political fray that too many people might have wanted her or her family to get involved in. .

    He held to his convictions, right or wrong from a civil rights standpoint is moot! Gropping a girl in a hotel iroom s Wrong, But gropping her in front of a crowd on a wrestling mat at a highly attended event in state where wrestling is King! Oh that is Ok! Who is lying to whom!

    Whether she consents to it or not is immaterial. I commend this young man! Making that decision is never wrong! I dare any of those calling him "chicken" to wrestle him on the same State Level Match! My $20 is on him!

    I respect both for how they handled a difficult situation. They stood up for what they believed in, they certainly didn't expect the national attention that it drew.

    I wish them and their families both well!

    February 23, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
  5. Da King

    Joel: You glorify God through Jesus. Keep doing so. You are a blessing to believers and a light to the darkness.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
  6. Bob U

    What would Gaga do?

    February 23, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
  7. Jo

    This article didn't need to be repeated a week later.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
  8. hey joe

    by not doing 'violence against them". LOL! He was afraid he'd lose to a girl. They are in a controlled arena, with referees and she was choses as being his EQUAL!!!! How he flatters himself to say "oh, I might hurt her"> yeah, sure. SHE might hurt YOU! He's a wuss. He's not an athlete. He doesn't belong there. so good riddance.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
    • Spike3g

      You're the wuss!! He would have mangled her in the first minute. Why don't you learn how to keep your mouth shut.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
  9. Bundy

    "biblical Christian principle of treating women with respect and dignity"

    Best laugh I have had all day. Amazing how Christians know so little about their own bible.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
    • Da King

      Bundy, Tell us your favorite scripture, book, chapter and verse.
      .

      February 23, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
    • our opinion

      Bundy believe it or not it is not just the Christians who treat women with respect and dignity. I am sure you are totally unaware of any of this, as what you are typing sounds like it is blowing out of a more southerly region of your body, thus being farther from your brain. I am glad you were able to get your laugh for the day, as many did I am sure when they read your comments about Christians not knowing their own bible. Have another good laugh at yourself in the mirror.

      February 23, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
  10. cwm242

    My husband is a wrestling coach, and he had 3 girls try out. What was he supposed to do? Deny them their right to wrestle? There are no girls' wrestling teams, and the school districts won't fund the girls teams. It isn't a question of feminism or violence. It's athletics.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
    • our opinion

      Yes, I would most definately say no to have my girls wrestle a boy. Did you read what Andy wrote above. When you are sorry that your little girl who you are in charge of keeping safe from harm gets her body broken because you allowed her to wrestle, because she wanted to. Like there is no other sport that she would not have contact sports with boys? Sorry, but I would never indanger my daughers in that way.

      February 23, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
  11. buffoon

    Matt Victor beat Cassy Herkelman fair & square. There were no problems as pontificated by fear mongers.

    Perhaps Joel Northrup has balls not to forfeit next year! Don't be surprised that a fragile-looking girl could pummel you!

    February 23, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
    • our opinion

      Nice name, seems to fit well.

      February 23, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
  12. Andy

    ive been wrestling since i was 9 years old and when i went into high school i had to wrestle a girl...growing up learning to wrestle i had ended up having violent style, i never was dirty or broke rules but i was taught to do anything in your power to win whehter it was to club down the head or grab the throat to gain position etc. unfortunately i was in the postion to wrestle a girl once and at the time i didnt care who you were boy/girl, white/black/purple it didnt matter im was going to go out there bounce your head of the mat and bury you, so i went out there and wreslted the same way i always wrestled, 110% and always to put your oppenents back through the mat i dditn change my style at all bc she was a girl i wrestled the same against everyone but after i pinned her in the first minute i didnt even realize that i broke her ribs when i power doubled through her, now after that for the rest of the tournament i was heckled and berated for forcefully beating a girl ppl were telling my parents "hey, looks like you raised a wife beater" etc. etc....ever since then i refused to wrestle girls and thank go i eventually grew out of the lower weights, moral of the story is that is great and all that girls are wrestling but they shouldnt wrestle boys even if they know what they are getting into because 1. girls are jsut more fragile no matter how you slice it there are physically different 2. the stigma atached, it is always a lose/lose situation for a boy if you lose to a girl expect to be made fun of for the rest of your life (i know i unfortunately was one of those ppl making fun of another for that) and if you win its no big deal you beat a girl and god forbid you win forcefully and hurt a girl your looked at like your some kind animal.

    bottom line is girls need to wrestle girls think of it like this would you let a girl get in a ring and box against a boy" even if they were wearing amatuer style pads...hell no! wrestling is no different

    February 23, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
  13. jj

    Many 15 year old girls would whip this little boys rear. He is a little scared of getting beaten by a girl and is using the bible as an excuse.

    This person is the biggest excuse of a human.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
    • Spike3g

      Your a moron... plain and simple

      February 23, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
    • jj

      Spike, just calling one a moron is the best you can do? look in the mirror. 15 year old girls would shatter you.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
    • our opinion

      First of all jj it is extremely rude and insulting to call the scripture 2000 year old paper. That is just plain ignorance. It doesn't sound like you have a whole lot of honor in fact not much at all. What a young man chooses to do regarding his belief system is not for you to judge. From the sound of your belief systgem you could spend more than a little time on your knees in church......if you have ever spent any.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
  14. Mashhour

    I would not let my daughter wreste a boy, nor would I let my son wrestle a girl.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
  15. Brown Town

    Who cares? Unrest in the middle east, the stock market tanks, gas is up, etc. Why is this front page worthy????

    February 23, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
  16. Marshmelo Anthony

    I think the kid was just in an awkward situation and he didn't know what to do. Most men growing up are taught not to hit or be disrespectful to women. Also, its difficult because when a man actually tries against a women in sports, most people see as harsh and ask the men to take it easy. For example, there was this one time that I played a pickup basketball game at the gym and a girl asked to play. Well being the shortest kid on the court, I was told to guard her. She seemed like she was trying her hardest, and I felt I was put in a position where I didn't know what to do. I could have easily laid her out, blocked all her shot, stolen the ball from her every time, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. I felt if I did those things everyone would think I was psychotic and abusive, acts the were uncalled for. So I kind of have to relate my story to this kids. It was a tough issue and he decided he didn't want to inflict any pain on a women. i do have a question though. If this kid went out, tried his hardest and dominated this girl, do you think anyone would say that he tried to hard and that he should have taken it a little easier?

    February 23, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
    • jj

      Play you loser. If she loses that is her problem.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
  17. Living4Christ

    the bible says:Jhn 8:9 And they which heard [it], being convicted by [their own] conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, [even] unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
    Jhn 8:10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
    Jhn 8:11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more

    Jesus forgave her..I can imagine Jesus Christ talking to her in a gentle way and telling her this things..
    I am with this young man! He went forward with his convictions instead of going by his own flesh! This is what God wants for this humanity..To learn how love and respect each other and also to turn to him! Im not here to judge but is says clear in the bible “Never pay back evil to anyone. Do things in
    such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do your part to live in peace with everyone, as much as possible. Dear friends, never
    avenge yourselves. Leave that to God. For it is
    written, ‘I will take vengeance; I will repay
    those who deserve it,’ says the Lord.”
    Romans 12:17-21

    May the Lord give you all the grace to understand this young mans convictions! Gid will bless him for it!

    February 23, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
    • jj

      Your an idiott, stop posting 2000 year old writings. We live in 2011. Women have earned the right to live equally as men. Take your 2000 year old crap and go home. We dont live 2000 years ago. Women are smarter, stronger, and have evolved. Stop living like moons and stars are gods and magic happens.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
    • comm0nsense

      Moron! The god you cooked up in your infantile brain isn't going to bless anyone with anything. Just keep repeating the same nonsense morons like you have been babbling about for centuries. The inescapable truth about the world is that there has NEVER been any proof of any event that couldn't be explained by the laws of nature (of physics). I would give you all the wealth (and I have plenty of it) I have, dedicate my life to serving you (or your god if you wish) if you can show me any evidence of the work of your god. If you are unable to do this, then how do you go about telling yourself what you say you believe is just some delusion? What an excuse for a supposedly intelligent being.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • Living4Christ

      God was the beginning and He will be the end!
      Our God was, is and WILL be the same till His return!

      February 23, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
  18. do.me.2.times

    afraid of losing, nothing less.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
    • andrew

      which is greater, you ignorance or stupidity?

      February 23, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
    • jj

      Andrew, there are 15 year old girls that can shatter your glass jaw. You little chicken.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
    • our opinion

      With a thought process like this sounds like ignorance is bliss. The stupid part just comes along for the ride

      February 23, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
  19. Michael

    The girl has every right to be there that the girl does, she wants to be there to prove that she can compete with male opponents. It was downright disrespectful for this kid to forefiet, and to hide behind his religion no less. HE WAS SCARED TO LOSE TO A GIRL, end of story.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
    • Spike3g

      Wrong... the kid did what he felt he needed to do. Plain and simple. Your comment is both immature and weak.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
    • jj

      Spike, there are many 15 year old girls that could defeat you in a match and you are scared too. Just like this little toddler.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
    • our opinion

      Do you have any children Michael? And don't say if I did I would let them do this. Way too many answers on this page say he is a wuss, too many immature men on this one. If any father says he wants his daughter to get thrown around by young men is not thinking of his daughter's safety and welfare. Again, that is part is good parenting. He has respect for women and will have much better luck with them then some of you who called him a wuss. Why don't u grow up.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
  20. hey joe

    if he wrestles the girl he may be uncomfortable grabbing her in certain places.
    -–if he's an actual athlete, he'll do what he needs to do to get teh job done. Is he comfortable grabbing boys in their privates? Feeling them up? Please. Think about it. when you're an athlete worth you salt, you have the ability to stay focused on you goal, reqardless of whta is going on. rememer the Uda Pippet running the boston marathon? He %&^*&^& herself about 10 miles in, but stayed focused, and as her bowels continued to empty, she did not break stride and she won the marathon. THAT is an athlete. Some boy whining about his 'discomfort' with having to touch a girl????? wimp. he's not an athlete. You dont get to choose your opponents. You take whomever is given to you, you choose your strategy and you gofor it. period. The most respectful thing to do to a girl athlete is go for it and let it her win or lose on her merit alone. This was both disrespectful and embarressingly babyish on his part. He's a wuss. He doesn't belong at the state champs. She obivously does.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
    • Mark9988

      Haters gonna hate

      February 23, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
    • Anonymous

      Too long; didn't read.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
    • Bob

      The guy is a wuss; a Christian wuss.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:22 pm |
    • our opinion

      Joe you are in idiot......

      February 23, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.