High school wrestler forfeits state tournament matches, saying it’s not ‘appropriate’ to wrestle a young lady
March 4, 2019, LifeSiteNews — A Colorado teen chose to forfeit two state tournament matches because his Christian religious convictions led him to conclude it would not be right to wrestle a girl.
“It’s so physical ... physically close,” 18-year-old Brendan Johnston told Denver’s KDVR. “I don’t think that’s really appropriate with a young lady.”
“It’s also very aggressive and I’m not really, I guess, comfortable with that,” added Johnston, a senior at the Classical Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Johnson had been slated to wrestle Jaslynn Gallegos, a Skyview High senior in the first round of a state tournament in February. Then when he was offered a third-round consolation matchup with a second girl, Valley High junior Angel Rios, Johnson again demurred.
“I don't want to treat a young lady like that on the mat. Or off the mat. And not to disrespect the heart or the effort that she's put in. That's not what I want to do, either,” Johnston told The Denver Post. “Wrestling is something we do, it's not who we are. And there are more important things to me than my wrestling. And I'm willing to have those priorities.”
The principled young wrestler made it clear that he was not disrespecting his female opponents or viewing them as less than equal.
“I think it’s possible to forfeit while still respecting them as athletes and competitors,” said Johnston. “I really don’t want to disrespect the hard work these ladies have put in. They’ve done a lot of that too. Some people think by forfeiting I’m disrespecting them. That’s not my intention at all.”
“My coach always says, 'Wrestling is what we do, not who we are,' and that’s something I’ve taken to heart,” said Johnston. “The decision I made was important to me, enough to know that I’d be done with my career after that – at least for high school. I’m OK with that.”
In the end, Rios and Gallegos climbed the winners’ podium at the conclusion of the state tournament, claiming fourth and fifth place in their weight class.