Iowa Teen Refuses to Wrestle Girl, Citing Faith

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An Iowa high school wrestler forfeited his chance to become a state champion when he refused to compete against a female contender in the state tournament.

Home-schooled sophomore Joel Northrup (35-4) said his decision to default on his match with Cassy Herkelman (20-13) was based on his conscience and his faith. 

"As a matter of conscience and my faith, I do not believe it is appropriate for a boy to engage a girl in this manner," Northrup said in a statement released Thursday by Scott Mahmens, athletics director at Linn-Mar High School in Marion, Iowa.

"It is unfortunate that I have been placed in a situation not seen in most other high school sports in Iowa," the teen added.

Jamie Northrup, the boy's father, is a Pentecostal minister. He said the family knew ahead of time who his son would be wrestling against and left the decision up to him.

"There's certainly no scriptures that address this and nothing doctrinal or church based," the elder Northrup said. "I just believe this is a principled decision."

"Joel believes, based on his conscience and faith, that girls should be treated with dignity and respect--taking nothing away from those two female athletes -- but wrestling is a combat sport," he explained.

Joel Northrup will be allowed to compete in consolation rounds, giving him a chance for a third place win.

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