Her opponent, Joel Northrup of Linn-Mar of Marion, is considering a forfeit, according to a top school official. Linn-Mar superintendent Katie Mulholland said she was told during a meeting of the school’s athletic council on Monday — a day after the state pairings were finalized — that Northrup might be unwilling to compete against a girl.
“I have not been informed officially what’s going to happen, but I do know that with his family’s faith beliefs, this presents a very challenging dilemma to them,” Mulholland said.
Before this season, no female had qualified for Iowa’s tournament — which dates to the 1920s.
Mulholland said the school would not penalize Northrup if he chooses not compete, and the school has not taken a position on the matter.
“The family and Joel will be making the final decision,” she said.
Calls placed Wednesday to the Northrups and Linn-Mar wrestling coach Doug Streicher were not immediately returned.
Northrup and Herkelman were scheduled to meet in a dual Jan. 13, but Northrup did not participate. Rather than forfeit, Linn-Mar wrestled 103-pounder Alijah Jeffery against Herkelman, according to the National Wrestling Coaches Association database. Jeffery subsequently pinned her.
Herkelman’s father, Bill, said he’d heard rumblings that a state forfeit could be brewing.
“We’ve just heard that it may be 50-50,” Bill Herkelman said. “My understanding is that they’ve got strict convictions (as a family), and I respect them. I don’t have any ill will toward them and I don’t think it’s any kind of boycott about her being a girl.”
Alan Beste of the Iowa High School Athletic Association said that Northrup, who is 35-4 and ranked fifth at 112 pounds in Class 3-A, must report to the scorer’s table when called if he wants to continue to compete in the consolation round.
If Northrup does not report, he will be eliminated from the meet. Though Linn-Mar qualified eight for state, it’s not a favorite for the team title in 3-A.
Herkelman owns a 20-13 record and, along with Megan Black of Ottumwa, made history as the first two females to qualify for the traditional state wrestling meet. Black (25-13) is slated to meet Bettendorf’s Logan Ryan (26-7) — also in Class 3-A at 112 pounds.
Another interesting subplot could develop: If Northrup forfeits and competes in the consolation rounds, it’s possible he could face Black or Herkelman later in the tournament